Wives Want to Know:
Can I still drink even though my husband is addicted to alcohol?
The short answer: yes. Of course you can. You get to choose what you consume, right? A better question to ask yourself is "should I drink?"
The longer answer: It depends
Everyone's situation is different. Everyone's spouse is different. There are things to consider when you ponder your specific circumstances and whether or not you choose to drink.
1. Are we talking about drinking in front of or even with our addicted husband?
If your husband is addicted to alcohol and not pursuing recovery, is it okay to drink around him? Let's set up a scenario that gets presented to me often. "You're at a wedding, a BBQ, a celebration of some sort... Your husband is drinking, per usual. You would also like to have a drink or two. Should you?" I've been there. For me, the answer was no. I wanted to be a good example that you can have fun and enjoy any activity just as much, if not more while sober! I also had no desire to drink around my loved one, because the reality of what that substance was doing to them and my family was right there in my face. It made me want nothing to do with it.
What if they're not present?
Scenario number two. "You're out to dinner with your girlfriends. Your husband isn't around. Can you have a drink then?" I think the answer depends on whether or not your husband knows you drink. Hiding drinking isn't okay for either spouse. I will say this, though, if he is in active addiction and is aware you drink (even occasionally) to a person with an addiction that is often confirmation that they can continue drinking. It goes something like this, "You drink, so you can't tell me not to."
We know that's justification, but it is reality to them.
Therefore, it comes down to whether or not you want to be transparent in your marriage and what may result from that transparency. I know this sounds like you must abstain because you are married to someone with an addiction, but that's not true. You can have a drink, however I'd just advise you to think about how your actions impact your spouse, even if they aren't doing the same for you. You are likely praying that God will deliver them from this addiction, right? So try to think in terms of what is helpful to my husband and his recovery and what is unhelpful. Then make your decision.
Besides, what are you really missing by not drinking?
It's okay to want to enjoy an adult beverage, however evaluate your feelings about it and if you truly feel like you just could not, would not go to dinner with friends without partaking then explore that. Gain some insight into your own relationship with alcohol. Is drinking a personal decision or is it expected of you by the people in your circle? Alcohol is the one drug that society makes you feel super outcasted about if you don't indulge when others are. Being in the recovery world I see a lot of posts promoting sobriety, but I'm not naive enough to believe that the rest of the world is as passive about not pushing it. So, if you find yourself unable to attend dinner with friends without drinking - ask yourself why. Is it peer pressure? Is it an escape? Or is it just a simple drink that you enjoy on occasion that you could take or leave?
2. Is your husband in recovery?
This can make all the difference. Scenario number 1. "He's in early addiction recovery (a year or less sober)." I would strongly encourage you to abstain with him. Even if he says you can drink. Even if he says it doesn't bother him. Even if you only do it when he's not present. Early addiction recovery is a fragile place to be. Doing it with him could definitely be motivating and guess what - healthy for the both of you! Again, if this sounds extremely difficult or even impossible I would encourage you to explore why that is. I'm not insinuating that you have a problem or anything even close to that. I am only saying to look at the bigger picture. Alcohol has caused so much harm in your husband's life and likely in your marriage.
If he's working to overcome it and you can help - then help!
Scenario number 2. "He has achieved long term recovery. After a year of sobriety, you two have attended a gathering where alcohol is present, you two have been around other people while they are drinking, you both share honestly your thoughts about alcohol, etc." Given that scenario and his comfort level with being around alcohol I hesitantly say that if he is okay with it then it could be okay. The fact of the matter is everything is okay until it's not. So it comes down to really and truly knowing his honest feelings about it. I've witnessed some people in long term recovery describe alcohol simply turning into "liquid in a glass." It no longer had any power or attraction to them. I've also heard of people having 10 years sober and relapsing, but ultimately your husband's drinking is HIS choice.
Your drinking is your choice.
Whether you decide to drink or not is completely up to you. Even if you do decide to drink in front of him while he is in active addiction - his addiction is still his responsibility. For me, the best questions to ask myself are
Does my decision help or hurt his chances at recovery and am I content with that?
If my answer is: My decision helps his recovery, but I'm resentful, well... then that's something to explore. If my answer is: My decision hurts his recovery and I feel guilty about that, well... that's something to explore. Getting to a place where you are comfortable with your decision and feel at peace that God is pleased with how you are handling the situation - that should be the goal. The absolute best question to ask:
God, should I or should I not drink?
When we pursue God's will it is no longer about me and what I want. God, what do You want? Help my heart's desires to align with Yours. Amen.
It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
If you enjoyed today's message please tell someone about Your Praying Friend, but more importantly - tell everyone about Jesus!
Substance Abuse Counselor