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Living with a newly recovering alcoholic.

Living with a newly recovering alcoholic.

Alcoholism in women has a disastrous effect on family life. Most men will leave a woman who is alcoholic, when the man has alcoholism most women chose to stay.

Many of our anger management clients complain that their fights originated from her drinking, which may be true. However if she is in recovery a new order will emerge. Men probably don’t realize where their spouse is coming from, have little sense of her low self esteem, isolation and shame. So where as the fights occurred as semi drunken slanging matches in sobriety new tensions emerge as she gets in touch with her own anger and vulnerability. The man may assume because she is no longer drinking all is OK but underneath the surface may be very different.

Often he thinks because she is no longer drinking she should now be totally healthy which can lead to a further build up of tensions, if he is unprepared for her reality then matters can go awry or she could easily relapse and the man will believe he had nothing to do with it.

Both sides in an alcoholic relationship are needy, so both have limited skills in dealing with tensions. The responses have t be more subtle in recovery. She may still be very depressed and him saying she shouldn’t be depressed doesn’t help. It is a challenge to see that being attuned to where she is at is more compelling not less so. Reactions must be less reactive and more responsive. It requires compassion which is new territory for him.

Nigel Turner

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