Why I Stayed Married To My Alcoholic Husband
Why I Stayed Married To My Alcoholic Husband
When I was married to a good man that suffered from addiction, I had my reasons to stay married. And a popular expression got me started down this path in the first place: There are two sides to every story.
Listen to the podcast episode here:
Read the transcript (and find more details) here:
The reason it’s popular is because it’s true. Usually, during conflict in a relationship (marriage or not), there is a responsibility that needs to be owned by both people involved.
And as some of you know, I was once married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, drugs, and porn. We were together for over 10 years. I’m now remarried and have six beautiful children.
So, I started to wonder if that statement above (two sides to every story) was true with addiction.
Did I have any responsibility for my now ex-husband’s addiction? Did I somehow cause his bad habits? Was it really my fault he made such hurtful choices? Should I carry this guilt around that weighs a ton? When he cut me with his words, had I done something to deserve that?
After a deep and long search of my heart, I decided to give back the responsibility of his life to him. That’s exactly where it belongs. I refused to own someone else’s choices.
But my healing doesn’t end there.
I went deeper… because not owning my now ex-husband’s addiction wasn’t enough. I knew I had to take responsibility for my own choices. The yelling, blaming, threatening to leave but always returning… all those things were on me.
Why was I so afraid to leave?
Why did I decide to stay married? I’m going to be really honest with you here. There were four very ugly reasons I continued to put up with his verbal abuse, lies, and constant rejection.
And before I tell you, I have to say I do feel a little vulnerable. They are not pretty reasons.
Owning them shows off my darker side.
So, I’m holding onto hope that you will remember that we don’t do judgment in our community. Or if you do judge me, don’t tell me about it.
Now, I want to tell you one more thing before I get into the reasons why I stayed for over ten years in a very destructive marriage filled with addiction.
The main reason I stayed married was because I loved him.
I really loved him. And I loved his potential. And even though I left, I still do believe in his potential.
When I took a self-inventory of why I was continuing to tolerate his behavior in my life, I identified my top four reasons:
Reason #1: I was scared to upset anyone and say no.
I wanted to please everyone. I was scared of upsetting my in-laws, my parents, my friends, my children’s teachers, and my children if I didn’t stay married. When it came to my future, I was considerate of everyone’s feelings about my future except my own. So, I stayed married because I didn’t want to ruffle feathers.
Reason #2 His disease made me feel important and needed.
I felt wanted when he needed help. It felt good when he apologized. It gave me a sense of purpose to run in and try to save the day. I liked being the rescuer. So, I stayed married because this situation helped me feel important and needed.
Reason #3: Most of the time I could always compare myself to him and feel superior.
It was so much easier to get on my high horse and guilt him, blame him, or lecture him about his actions and choices. Never mind the fact that I was blaming, lecturing, or yelling. I didn’t have to look at my poor choices because his were so much worse. So, I stayed married because I could easily feel superior.
Reason #4: Lastly, it was very convenient to be in love with someone with a disease so the blame and focus were always on him.
I could ignore all my issues, because his were so bad. Hiding behind this disease can be a convenient place to live. All the blame for our bad habits, our unhappiness, and our problems become about our partner’s addiction. And I’m not saying that it isn’t a reason to be unhappy. I promise. So, I stayed married because it was convenient.
And let’s state the obvious truth here: it is so hard loving someone who has a problem with addiction of any kind.
And we need to take a look at the baggage we brought into this relationship. We need to look at our own issues.
Not very pretty, right? But telling the truth can set you free.
Maybe you can relate to some of my reasons, or maybe you have your own. I encourage you to take some time and really think about your reasoning. It’s okay if they’re ‘ugly’, trust me, mine were too.
You’re in a safe, judgment-free space. It’s okay to be ‘ugly’ here, because it truly is all part of the healing process.
Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.
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