Wives of Alcoholics Community Group

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husband coming home from rehab - need advice

hi all. I'm new to this site and am hoping someone can share their experiences. my husband is coming home from rehab for the first time and while I love and adore my husband I am so completely anxious, upset, nervous, worried about his return. did anyone else feel this way? I'm afraid to hope that this will work (yes, I know it's not an immediate fix to all his problems, nor mine). is this really a positive step? can I really believe that things will start to get better?

For 26 days now I've been a single mom of 4 kids (oh, and btw, we just found out we're expecting a surprise 5th child - this is actually happy news for us) and I haven't been nearly as stressed as I was for the past 3 years when he was home. I should probably explain he wasn't a steady drinker like many of the men described in the posts I've read. he's a cyclical drinker - it comes in waves. he would go long periods of time w/o drinking, then begin w/ 1 a day and progress from there. not defending, just explaining that it wasn't a constant thing in our daily lives. but there was always the stress of dealing with his roller coaster emotions and what might possibly set him off. That hasn't been there for these past 4 weeks and now I'm scared it will come back and I won't be able to handle it.

what can I do to stop this insanity of worrying about what could be and instead focus on the here and now??

thanks in advance for your advice.



I would say - play it low-key.

I know that's hard to do, given the way you feel now. But trying to play things low-key is not only important for him - it's important for you, too.

When he comes home, he is just getting out of the so-called "cheese bell syndrome". That means all the "bad" elements have been held at bay from him the whole time he was in rehab. He was able to detox, recover and rehab in a sort of "vacuum" world which is de-void of real problems and stress.

Most of the relapse problems come from the re-introduction of stress that was missing in rehab. Things like whiney kids, household noise and accidents, petty arguments and unpaid bills - that was there where he was in rehab.

The other problem is finding out what kind of relationship you two are going to have AFTER rehab. Will he be resentful that you might treat him like an invalid? Or will he bathe in demands that you have to "support" him because he feels helpless against everyday life, and the least bit of stress will allow him to threaten you with a relapse?

My suggestion is that you avoid talking about his rehab unless he wants to talk about it.

Don't hold sermons or lectures, or talk about how crappy his life was BEFORE rehab. It only emphasises his guilt he doesn't want to talk about.

Don't expect him to be repentive about past abusive behaviour. If you are expecting him to crawl on his knees over broken glass, you will have to wait a little longer.

Don't patronize or mother him - it will only re-initiate that vicious cycle of arguing again.

When you have to talk about important family issues, such as big price tag purchases, over-due bills, work, problems with the children, etc., make an "appointment" with him as if he were "a client" of yours, and try to talk in a non-emotional way. Make sure that things that cause stress, like the kids, and other family are not around when you try to discuss it. Make an agreement that if one of you starts to find the conversation upsetting, the person can get up and go in the kitchen to get a glass of water.

Urge him to attend a stress management course with you together, or maybe see a pair therapist to learn how to cope with day-to-day marital stress. In most cases it is the inability to deal with what often seems as the most harmless stress factors that will trigger a relapse. Managing personal stress (no matter how petty it seems) is the key towards making it easier to avoid the urge to drink alcohol, since the body has learned that alcohol is a mild relaxant for vague "uptightness".


Then I have done everything wrong, and I mean everything.

Which i suppose would explain in part why he's not any better than before he went in.

But dammit, when does HE have to take responsibility for his stress?

My opinion??? he does need to take responsibility for his stress!!! If you keep taking on his problems you will go crazy. Take if from the voice of experience. I did all the stuff above and all it did was make me CRAZY. I had to get to the point that I felt as though I would explode holding everything in for me to reach out for help.

You need support too. I hate it when people say, "oh he is just an alcoholicâ. I hate it when people say âyou wouldnât think the way you think if he had cancerâ. Yes I would if he acted the way he does when he is drunk. Also, if he had cancer and didnât so what needed to be done to get better the same way I am angry that he isnât trying to quit drinking. It seems to me that alcoholicâs get a free pass all the time because âthey are sickâ. What about the wives that have to go around cleaning up messes? I think we need a free pass for feeling angry!

I will get off my high horse now and tell you what I think.

While you donât need to remind him of everything, donât just let him use his illness as an excuse to not do what he needs to do. You donât need to nag but donât let him treat you poorly either. Stand up for yourself. In rehab they have given him all the information he needs to recover if he wants to recover. I know because my husband has been there on more than one occasion and I have went to classes with him to give him my support. I have all the information they gave him in rehab and I have read it. The problem is that they donât give the families support. If you donât have support how can you support him? You canât clear and simple.

My advice⦠Keep venting here. A lot of us have been in the same place or are in the same place as you are right now. It helps to vent. Get a good therapist that is specialized in addiction and the affect it has on families. I found one that is very good and that knows exactly what I need. She doesnât let him off the hook and she donât let me off the hook either but has been able to give me advice on how to handle my situation. I go to al-anon. Some like it some donât but I think it depends on the group if it is right for you. I lucked out and found one that was supportive and not overbearing. They are not there to give advice but they are there for support. While they stress not being angry they also understand that letting go of the anger is a process. They have all been there too and they understand that it takes time. Often people have to leave the situation to not feel angry but everyone is different. They say âtake what you want and leave the restâ.

Oh, I just want to add. It is normal to feel what you are feeling. You do have rights just like he has.

Good luck. I hope he improves.

I found out that the biggest fear alcoholic husbands have when they go back home after rehab was the fear of "paying the devil" or having to grovel before their wives and crawl over cut glass chanting "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa".

Yes, they are sorry. They really are. But they just cant tell you, because it is so embarrassing and shameful that they dont even know where to start apologising. On top of that they fear that no matter what they say they will wind up still feeling like the smallest piece of shit in the universe. So they think, "Whats the point of even apologising? She will just get upset and start accusing me of how everything in our relationship is all my fault and I wont be able to face that. The only way I can face that is if I have a drink, because that is the only way I know how to cope in a stress situation."

Of course they dont say that. They just say "Fxxx it!" and go to the next bar.

So the key here is try to eliminate stress at home as much as possible. If you arent causing a scene (even though he deserves one) then it will be one less factor for thinking "I could sure use a drink about now".

That doesnt mean you cannot be unbending about what you have decided you want. That doesnt mean you have to walk on eggshells because you fear he will blackmail you into having everything his way or else he will drink again.

It means just that. Deflate and de-escalate the emotional confrontation. Talk to him as if you were in group therapy, but only if he wants to talk. If he doesnt want to talk, wait a while. And if he still doesnt want to talk and you do, its time to consider alternatives. But it doesnt have to be with screaming and yelling and drama. Low-key is the way you might be able to get him information about how you feel about this situation without you breaking down in tears or having a screaming match.

Like BecLB said, if you become upset and pissed-off come here and tell us - just dont let it out on him, until he starts to re-adjust to living at home.

Thank you all for your wisdom. It is greatly appreciated. I think I'm fortunate in that I already do really know that none of this is my fault and I can't fix him - therapy is wonderful. =)

I'm actually not angry with him about being an alcoholic or even about the things he said to me when he was drunk. I truly believe alcohol for some people is a disease which causes them to lose control or do things they otherwise would do. I don't hold him blameless, but I also don't hold onto my anger from it and I don't expect an apology. What I do expect is that it will slowly get better.

We had a bit of a rough week, but it finally turned a corner last night. I think he came home expecting everything to be better/different (which was unrealistic) and he was thrown when it wasn't different/better. Put him in a bad funk, but to his credit, he didn't drink and he did go to meetings (after skipping a few days). Yesterday was the first relatively normal/positive day. I did vent my frustration with him, but in a manner that was firm but understanding. We were able to work through everything and I just give him his space when he needs it.

I'm sure there are going to be downs along with the ups and I'm grateful that all of you are here as support when I need it. I'll try to return the favor when I can.

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