I’ve found statistics that indicate a 20% increase in divorce rate for couples dealing with alcoholism in the marriage. That number is not surprising to me. The overall divorce rate in the United States is roughly 50%, and it makes sense that addiction to alcohol adds significant challenges for couples to overcome in order to stay together.
But those aren’t the important numbers – not to me, anyway. The statistic I’m interested in doesn’t exist. At least I can’t find where this subset has ever been studied. I’m curious about the rate of divorce in marriages where the alcoholic gets sober. Based on the stories I know, and our personal experience, I’ll bet that divorce rate is over 80%. I thought getting sober was the hardest thing I’d ever do until I experienced the damage recovery did to my relationship. Recovering our marriage from alcoholism is the challenge of our lives.
Sobriety doesn’t fix anything. When I quit drinking, our relationship got much worse before it could begin to get better and recover.
Social media is full of what I refer to as rainbows and cotton candy posts about sobriety from addiction. I don’t get much out of the unicorns and bubblegum inspiration about how everyday is perfect in sobriety. And I imagine those posts are insulting to the spouse of an alcoholic in recovery who is dealing with the reality of resentment and distrust. Recovery is so hard. A picture of a sunrise with a snappy caption is an indignity to the couples trying to hold their families together in sobriety.
My wife, Sheri, and I, have recorded Untoxicated Podcast episodes about our relationship struggles, and they have both been downloaded over 400% more than our third top rated episode. Couples are hurting, and marriages are dying at the hands of this ferocious disease. Al-Anon is a great resource, but just like AA is not a good fit for everyone, couples need options in the ways they find help recovering their marriages from alcoholism.
That’s why we wrote a new ebook that we are announcing today. It’s about our struggles to survive alcoholism recovery and hold our marriage together. Titled, He’s Sober. Now What? A Spouse’s Guide to Alcoholism Recovery, Sheri and I worked together to write our new ebook from her perspective. It is her story of learning to love me again, and it covers topics we never imagined we would face when I got sober and started on the path to beating my disease.
Alcoholism destroys trust, intimacy and our ability to forgive. It leaves the collateral damage of resentment and the spouse’s defence mechanisms in its wake, and enough pain to last a lifetime. When I stopped drinking, I told Sheri I got sober for her. I thought she was selfish because she wasn’t instantly grateful and loving. I didn’t know what more she wanted from me. I didn’t understand the devastating amount of damage my 25 years of heavy drinking had done to our marriage. I just could not comprehend.
When I most needed my wife’s love and support, it was most unavailable. It was all my fault, and I didn’t have the capacity to understand. Now I know.
Getting sober after years or decades of alcoholism was like promising not to pour gasoline on the charred remains of our house after I burned it to the ground. After I crushed my spouse’s soul, I asked for loving support in exchange for promising to not crush it again.
We learned so many unexpected lessons in sobriety, and our marriage is surviving. After years of going backwards once I stopped drinking, we are making progress and recovering our marriage. We want to share what we’ve learned for free. We encourage you to download He’s Sober. Now What? A Spouse’s Guide to Alcoholism Recovery. Don’t let the title fool you. The lessons we learned are not gender specific, and the ebook is applicable for husbands of alcoholic wives in recovery, and same sex marriages as well.
Just as connection is required for successful recovery from addiction, connection is vital for the spouse of an alcoholic to recover as well. We hope you’ll share your experience in your alcoholic relationship in the comments, or by email directly to Sheri or me. You are not alone. The stigma associated with alcoholism envelopes marriages and families, and we must connect in order to survive. We are all in this together. Let’s replace shame with hope.