Why I Love Having a Sober Spouse

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“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.” ~ Barbara De Angelis Since my husband was an alcoholic for more than nine years, and for seven years of our marriage, I am beyond thankful for a sober spouse today. As many of you know, it is beyond difficult to be married to an addict. But I am here to tell you that hope is not out of reach. It wasn’t just once, but several times that I considered walking away from the relationship because of my husband’s alcoholism. But I held on, arguably more out of a selfish desire to see some semblance of a successful relationship than out of unconditional love for my husband. It is not easy to admit it, but it’s true. Thankfully, I continued to work on getting my husband the help that he needed for recovery. Eventually, he went through alcohol detox, which proved to be the most instrumental part of his treatment. While he had tried attending support groups before (most notably Alcoholics Anonymous), he never made it to more than a few meetings, and always ended up drinking again shortly after. The detox program gave him the accountability and the safe environment he needed to completely withdraw and lose his dependence on alcohol. I am happy to report that my husband has been sober for ten years now. For the first year or two of sobriety, we continued to deal with its aftermath. It was not an easy process, but it was his sobriety that allowed us to work through the issues that had arisen through the first seven years of our marriage. We now again have a healthy marriage and look forward to many years together with our children. Clearly, there is no question that I love having a sober spouse. Having an addicted husband was one of the most difficult aspects of life I have ever had to deal with. The alternative is much better. But lately I have been thinking about the specific reasons I am thankful for my sober spouse, and it is not simply about the fact that it is better than having an addicted spouse. There is so much more to the equation. Without further ado, here are some of the major reasons I love having a sober spouse.

Reason #1: I know what it’s like to have an addicted spouse

I know what it’s like to have an addicted spouse This may seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but I love that having a sober husband means that I know what it’s like to have an alcoholic spouse. Why? It gives me a better understanding of what others in similar circumstances are going through, what their needs are, and how real their struggles are. Alcoholism and addiction are often accompanied by guilt and shame. Since I know, from personal experience, that alcoholism and addiction are not a result of a character flaw but a very real mental disorder, I am able to move past these social taboos and encourage others. This is only possible because of what my husband and I have been through.

Reason #2: I am able to draw the line with unacceptable behavior

I am able to draw the line with unacceptable behavior Because my husband was a functioning alcoholic for seven years of our marriage, I know what unacceptable behavior looks like in alcoholics. While he hasn’t touched a drink in over ten years, anyone who is an alcoholic or is married to one knows that this does not diminish the intrinsic desire for the relief that a drink brings. Before he was sober, the struggle with my husband was to get him the help that he needed to recover. Now that I know what recovery looks like, I can help keep him accountable to his own commitments. This does not mean controlling his behaviors or his decisions, but instead partnering with him in his commitment to sobriety, and acting as his first line of defense against the possibility of relapse. This was something I was unable to do when he hadn’t actually gone through the early stages of recovery.

Reason #3: We are able to enjoy our time together

We Enjoy Time Together Anyone who has been married to – or even dated – an alcoholic can tell you that the stress of the addiction often far outweighs the fun, excitement, and romance of the relationship. My husband was a functioning alcoholic, but the addiction snuck through the cracks in our relationship. It got to the point where he would drink before we even went out on a date, and I couldn’t stand to kiss him because of his boozy breath. Hours of every week were filled with fights about his drinking, and we spent good portions of our day alone in our own thoughts and activities. Now that my spouse is sober, we are able to spend much more time together without the distraction and added stress of his drinking habit. Dates are more enjoyable, we fight much less, and even our respective routines in the morning are now in sync. This is the most obvious benefit of having a sober spouse, and one I do not want to take for granted.

Reason #4: I can trust him with our family

I can trust him with our family The fact that we both wanted children was a major factor in our decision to get married. But when our first child came along, it was hard for me to picture my husband actually taking care of them. He was too undependable, and I certainly did not want him drinking in front of them. For several years, I didn’t know what the future of our little family would be. Now that I have a sober spouse instead of an addict for a husband, the future looks much more certain. I know that our children have given him an additional reason to stay sober, and I’m confident that he wants the best for them just like I do.

Reason #5: His recovery from alcoholism has given hope a new meaning

His recovery from alcoholism has given hope a new meaning Let’s be honest: the word hope has turned into somewhat of a cliché and has lost its meaning in the process. While my husband struggled with his alcoholism, I didn’t even know what hope meant. I would even get frustrated when others used the word, even with the best of intentions. But hope is real, and there is a great deal of it when it comes to recovering from an addiction. My experience with both addiction and recovery has shown me that. There is no question that living with an addict or alcoholic is frustrating and can seem hopeless. But feeling hopeless is not necessarily the same thing as having no hope. If your spouse or significant other continues to struggle with addiction or alcoholism, it is never too late to encourage them to seek out the help that they need for recovery. Sometimes this can take several attempts before recovery is successful. The important thing to remember is that there is always hope in addiction. That is why I am so thankful for my sober spouse. If any of this resounds with you, or if you have been through a similar experience, feel free to share your story and your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Why I Love Having A Sober Spouse