Husband drinks, alcohol treatment does not help. Why the wife does not file for divorce?
When a girl is going to marry an alcoholic, well, if there are people who can dissuade her. If not, life with an alcoholic husband can be long, because divorce in the family of an alcoholic is not such a frequent thing. What holds together a person with alcohol dependence and a woman who once wanted to "save" him? And what will she have to do to get away from her alcoholic husband?
How do alcoholics and their wives find each other?
“Before marriage, I was sure that I would never be a drunkard’s wife.” And now, please, I am in front of you: the wife of an alcoholic, - says a beautiful 32-year-old woman, let's call her Sveta.
“Why did you so ardently promise not to marry an alcoholic?” - I ask.
- Yes, because my father is an alcoholic. I have seen enough of my dad. I did not want such happiness for myself.
- How did you meet your future husband?
- I was at a party. By the end of the evening I look - sitting "it" in the corner, drunk and unhappy. I immediately wanted to save him.
The word "it" in relation to her husband, I repeatedly heard from the wives of patients with alcoholism. Why they love this word, I do not know. Whether they deny her husband recognition as a man, or in the depths of consciousness, he is not a marriage partner at all, but a “object of salvation”.
- And what did you do then, on a visit? - I continue the conversation.
- I called a taxi, literally loaded it into the car and sent it home.
- Do you think that thereby saved him?
- In any case, I was calm and confident that "it" this evening will not fall into history.
I ponder over the words of Sveta "calm and confident." Perhaps they contain the solution of her marriage. Perhaps Sveta is easily anxious about any reason, and in order to cope with it, something must be done immediately. In addition, Sveta is not very sure of her own significance, and for her support we need actions that other people will praise and appreciate. So she saves a man whom she sees for the first time. Reward - more confidence in their own importance. Perhaps, an unspoken thought flashed through her: "Here I am what a good fellow! Others will pass by, and I will save."
Meanwhile, our conversation continues.
- How many men were at that party?
- Man ten.
- Has anyone tried to look after you?
- Yes, but they seemed to me bland, uninteresting.
Then Sveta tells how the bright sides of her personality were attracted by her future husband while he was sober. I'm thinking about something else. If a woman is destined to marry an alcoholic, then out of ten, even out of twenty men, she will choose him.
Actually, what happened at the party then? He allowed himself to be weak, helpless, even immobilized, he was "plunged." She showed herself from the best side - rescued, empathized, acted decisively. Opposites met.
From an early age, Sveta saw what mother did in such cases. At the party she did the same. Lessons learned in childhood turn into automatic reactions. A man cannot take care of himself - this is a signal to ensure that women like Sveta and her mother take care of him and ensure his safety.
It has been established that about 60 percent of the daughters of alcoholics marry men who are either already sick with alcoholism, or fall ill soon. The trend is not disturbed, even if the mother divorced her daughter's father. According to psychologists, the life scenario is recorded in the girl’s subconscious very early - at the age of 6 years.
Sveta acted in accordance with the scenario of life. The picture, which she saw at a party, was painfully familiar to her from childhood: a drunk, helpless man. All her life, her mother has been busy with her father, nursed, rescued, passing a hidden message to her daughter that this is precisely the purpose of the woman. It is very difficult to rewrite such a scenario, although in principle it is possible.
The secret of a strong marriage with an alcoholic
Psychologists believe that there is no stronger marriage than alcohol. What is the matter?
Scientists explain this phenomenon as follows. Human behavior is governed not only by the consciousness, but even more by the subconscious, which reinforces some reactions with pleasure and punishes with pain for others.
Behavior motivation is associated with a psychological reward — pleasure and avoidance of pain. In patients with alcoholism, there are violations in the work of the award system. At their wives, probably, too. They derive pleasure from sources that healthy people can reject. How does this principle work in life?
Let's look at the matrimonial life of Nicholas and Olga. Nikolay is 50 years old. For the past 25 years, all the time that their marriage lasts, he drinks. He does not drink every day, for 3-5 days in a row, then for two weeks it is sober.
He has already been treated for alcoholism three times. Sobriety lasted no more than six months after each treatment - and again the hard drinking came, now eight days already. Crisis in the family and at work. Therefore, they, Kohl and Olya, are here at the doctor. Here is a part of our conversation.
- I have reached the limit. Enough. I want to stop drinking. So much trouble I've done!
- To whom?
- Wife, children. Olya I have a golden man, she suffered so much. She is just holy. How she took care of me after binge! Without it, I simply would not have survived.
“No, I'm not holy.” (In the subconscious, she nods in the affirmative: "Yes, yes, that is all. Without me, he would have disappeared." She often speaks out loud at home.)
Now, in the doctor's office, Olya makes a serious statement: "Either he stops drinking, or I divorce."
Kohl did not agree to hospital treatment, it was decided to be treated on an outpatient basis. Kohl and Olya leave.
What happened next? What changes have occurred in their lives? The previous story was repeated: Kolya tried to live soberly, but then he broke down, did not work. And what about Olya? Have you divorced? Of course not. Olya said to herself: "How can I leave him now, when he tries so hard to get out of alcoholism?". She repeatedly repeated: "Without me, he will disappear."
So, Kohl and Olya continue to live in their usual nightmare. And their greatest misfortune lies in the fact that none of them can change. Why does this story last so long, for 25 years now?
And because for each spouse this situation is psychologically beneficial, it rewards each of them with something extremely necessary.
Why is my husband drinking?
What kind of awards does Kolya get? What is its benefit? He likes to drink. Lifting the mood that he feels intoxicated, in sober life is unattainable for him (experts call this phenomenon an euphoric effect). He likes alcohol to relieve his anxiety and reduces self-doubt (anesthetic effect, pain avoidance). He likes the atmosphere of drama, unrest, which usually accompanies alcoholism (the so-called illusion of the intensity of emotional life).
Sobriety seems to him empty and boring. However, from time to time he still lives such a life, which allows him to reduce his feelings of guilt, score points in his favor, feel like a good person: "I was able to hold out without alcohol for half a year!
During all these falls in the pit and out of it, when he was in a miserable position, a lot of sympathy and love from his wife fell to his lot: “Dear, well, you just try not to drink, I beg you. I'll do whatever you want for you. " While working at the clinic where alcoholics are treated, I watched their wives carry heavy bags with something tasty and sweet. Nice, isn't it?
The man declined responsibility for himself, for his wife, for children, for establishing intimacy with them. He is afraid of being in a close relationship, he postpones them for later, for a sober period. Alcohol also allows you to avoid close and responsible relationships with yourself. There are problems, but it's scary to solve them.
In general, alcohol allows Kolya to avoid everything that requires him to stop being a child and become an adult. Alcohol interferes with professional and spiritual growth, which requires effort on himself, and they are associated with pain for Kolya, and he avoids it.
For the same reason, he avoids responsibility and obligations - no wonder alcoholism is called a disease of irresponsibility.
Why women live with alcohol husbands
And what benefits does Olya get? Let it not be obvious, but from the relationship with her husband she extracts no less psychological rewards for herself than he does. We list the benefits of a sober living Oli.
It's nice to feel that for as long as 25 years, you have endured a nightmare in which another woman would not have lived a week. Kohl himself said that she was "holy." Suffering brings closer to "holiness", to the position of "heroine." One woman in a similar situation exclaimed: "I deserve to be put on a pedestal, because I have lived with an alcoholic for 30 years!"
She feels like a strong partner. She is a helping, caring wife, she makes the right decisions, she always knows how to act, therefore she dictates: “Do not drink! Take care!”. It is very sweet for her to repeat: "He will disappear without me." It is joyful to know that you are better, stronger, more competent than he. From here she draws her nourishment for her critically low self-esteem and self-esteem.
In fact, the situation looks somewhat different than Olya represents. She needs to feel better than he, because in fact she is very bad with herself. She leads a constant battle for first place, and her husband’s alcoholism helps her to win the championship.
As long as she is fully involved in his problems, she has a great reason to avoid her own. She, too, is afraid of intimate relationships with herself. A convenient construction is built in the mind: Kolya has a problem — alcohol, my problem is Kohl, otherwise I’m fine.
Experiencing drama, ups, downs: "He is sober today. What happiness!". All this gives her, like him, a feeling of intensity of emotions and fullness of life. Olya has a deep problem in that she has long abandoned her real feelings, this is her method of pain relief. She has long been living inactively, only reacting to the events of her husband's life. The truth is that the problem of Oli is Olya herself, not Kohl. But she, like him, prefers to live in a world of illusions, because the truth about herself frightens her.
Why aren't they getting divorced
Oli's protests, threats to divorce - all this is just a "smoke screen". In fact, Olya, like her husband, does exactly what she wants to do, and she lives the way she wants to live. She has a husband she wants to have. Moreover, only a husband like Kolya needs her.
In her life together with him, she has the opportunity to satisfy her deep, vital needs: daily feed her low self-esteem. She "earns" self-esteem by suffering, covers up her weakness, powerless attempts to direct the flow of life along the laid channel. Life does not obey her will, and to admit it is for her tantamount to defeat.
At first glance, Olya is a strong, self-confident woman, sharp, able to do everything, not afraid of difficulties. And under this shell is a fragile, weak creature, forever a frightened girl. She is afraid that they can leave her, that she is not loved. Replacing love - the desire to be necessary to someone.
The fear of being rejected and unloved is driven by her when she helps her husband. She goes too far, because he did not ask her to take over everything. And who among us does not do too much with fear?
A person has a need to belong to someone, to feel worthy, meaningful, talented and capable, there is a need for self-realization. Olya meets these needs in marriage with Kolya. She feels a sense of belonging to Kolya, and then she feels stronger, more comfortable, more significant, more talented. All this is because she does not put herself as a person, separate from Kolya.
They are never divorced, the scales are balanced. They formed an unhealthy system in which one part without the other does not work. His alcoholism will never end, because no one risks starting a change from himself.
How to get away from an alcoholic husband?
I tell you that the hidden benefits of a difficult life exist, not for someone to be ashamed of. These benefits are a natural element of codependency. And codependency is not a reason to be ashamed of yourself, but a problem to work on.
When a person is able to look at his benefits honestly and without fear, he can afford not to hold on to them anymore and stops using them. They will be replaced by valuable acquisitions from healthier relationships. We can share our life with someone, but we cannot throw it under the feet of another person.
What steps to change will have to be done?
- Awareness of their own problems. The first step is the most difficult. No wife of an alcoholic, and I advised hundreds of people, did not ask: "What is my problem? Help me understand." Almost everyone asks: "How should I behave so that he does not drink?" And they are disappointed to learn that if the purpose of the wife’s behavior is to change the husband, she will not reach this goal. You can only change your own behavior to solve your own problems.
- Before changing his behavior, the wife of an alcoholic patient may ask himself the question: "What am I getting by doing what I have been doing for many years?" The first answer will be: "I do not get anything good." It is not true. As already mentioned, we all derive a variety of psychological benefits from self-destructive behavior, no matter how bitterly these words sound.
- The desire to change. Who of us would like to start repairs in the apartment? We do it in the end, but when circumstances force us.
- Work on yourself. It is a long journey, maybe a lifetime. When I came to the family program for relatives of patients with alcoholism, I asked the director: "Is it enough of those eight days that are set aside for work?". He replied: "This is a good start." If I had not completed this course, I would hardly have understood that I need to change myself.
- It is better to start work on yourself in a psychotherapeutic group or a self-help group. And yet - consult with a knowledgeable specialist.