It took nearly 18 years together to learn to be truly happy. Perhaps we are slow learners; I’m pretty sure I am. For one thing, I had to learn to choose recovery instead of addiction. That was 13 years ago. I don’t think a truly happy marriage can exist if one partner is pursuing an active addiction. Even being an intermittent, functional alcoholic–as I once was–is a barrier to the kind of relationship which is authentic and includes profound bonding and deep communication.
Saying goodbye to addiction:
Perhaps I should define my terms. “Intermittent” alcoholics have periods of time when they drink normally or not at all. In my case, when I went on diets several times a year, I would not drink at all for weeks or months. “Obviously, I don’t have an alcohol problem,” I’d say to myself, because denial is not just a river in Egypt. When the diet was over though, I’d have one glass of wine at dinner, and within a few weeks I’d be drinking every day and too much. “Functional alcoholic” means I had a job, I never drank while working, and very few people knew that I had a drinking problem–only those who had seen me ruin a special occasion because sometimes I could not control how much I drank or my behavior after the first glass of wine. Sadly, it was primarily those who were nearest and dearest to me who witnessed or were hurt by those occasions; recalling this brings back the regrets I will always have.
By grace, the day my younger son’s first child was born, everything changed. Holding that precious baby, and overcome with love for him and for my children and their children, I knew that continuing to drink would fatally compromise those relationships. I stopped drinking that day, and never looked back. 90 AA meetings in 90 days, working the steps, making amends–through grace I did it all. The results have been profoundly positive. The classic alcoholic’s fear that I would never again have fun was the opposite of the facts.
“I love you just as you are.”
Just as important, on the road to a truly happy marriage, I had to become totally willing to accept and affirm my husband just as he is. I think it was a turning point when I began to feel and say, “Not only do I love you, but I am 100% satisfied with you.”
Having a deeply joyful and committed marriage is grace, it’s joy, it’s one of the greatest sources of gratitude in my life. In future posts, I will have more to say about this path and how it can be your path as well.
Blessings to you and yours, dear reader! Please visit me at http://www.coupleswisdom.com.