It’s Okay to Love an Alcoholic

Before I found Al‑Anon, I thought there was something wrong with me because I loved an alcoholic. I didn’t understand how I could continue to love someone whose behavior was insane when drinking. I felt alone and isolated with these feelings and felt that, if I could only figure out the right way to behave around the alcoholic, the drinking would stop.

Through Al‑Anon, I have learned that alcoholism is a disease and that I can love the person, but hate the disease. I have also learned that I have been affected by it, too and that I can feel angry about that. But I can be gentle with myself and remember that I am doing the best I can, just like the alcoholic is. I am able to see the alcoholic in my life as more than just an alcoholic. I can see the loving, caring, funny and smart person there too. I can love this person, simply and honestly. And I can love myself, too.

By Hilary S., Wisconsin

The Forum, December 2017

2018-02-02T14:54:24+00:00 December 4, 2017|Categories: Alcoholic Spouse or Partner, The Forum|

36 Comments

  1. Stacy May 2018 at 5:15 pm

    This thread hit home for me. I’ve completely isolated my husbands problems from my friends and family. I’ve become so good at pretending everything is ok and it’s starting to take a real toll on me. The incidents behind my husbands drinking problems are endless; several trips to the ER, missed flights due to being passed out in the airport, taken work calls drunk and most recently got fired from a high level executive job because of drinking. The angry part of me was happy because he needed something major to happen but then my guilt kicks in. He just started seeing a therapist but like a classic alcoholic went to his last appointment wasted. His problem isn’t actually when he starts he can’t stop, it’s when he’s sad he masks it with excessive drinking with the intention to black out. It seems so backwards, his coping skills are just so so bad he cant handle the smallest amount of stress.

    He is the most wonderful man, such a wonderful father and is incredibly generous, hilarious, loving etc. Everyone who meets him instantly loves him. He’s getting meaner to me every time he drinks and he rarely apologizes. He’s never physically mean. When he’s not drinking he is the nicest most loving husband I could ask for. We are actual best friends.

    How do you walk away from someone you love every part of when they aren’t drinking? I cannot fathom thinking about him in a hotel room or empty apartment drinking himself into oblivion. So I’m torn between knowing I’m an enabler or going through the toughness of the trainwreck he will become if I leave him. He’s the most perfect man if he could just overcome this awful problem of his.

  2. Christine B. May 2018 at 7:59 am

    I have been suffering for over 27 years with this problem. It is due to his PTSD. I love my husband, he has cheated on me. Too many details but I love him, although he has over the years mentally abused me and our children. He has admitted he is an alcoholic and I am waiting for the penny to drop that he needs to slow down and stop drinking. He is now smoking which in all of our years together he has never done. He just doesn’t get it at all what he is doing to us and our children plus now our grandchildren. When I am able I will start to go to meetings but we are living in a country overseas so at present I can’t. I have felt suicidal at times. But it has helped reading what has been posted.

  3. Lynn April 2018 at 8:37 pm

    As I read all these comments, they sound like they could have been written by me -and about my relationship with my husband. We have been married for almost 21 years – and I had known him for about 8 years before we got married. I love him deeply – but hate his behavior in the “Jeckle/Hyde” personality. He comes from an “alcoholic family” having lost his father, and brother to suicide while intoxicated – and one sister due to complications of alcoholic liver disease. Like others have stated, he is such a wonderful man when he is sober. Our relationship is wonderful then. We are best friends who laugh, love and genuinely like each other. When he drinks, he’s a foul-mouthed monster who doesn’t care about anything or anybody but himself. Over the years, he’s had serious health problems directly related to his drinking and has been hospitalized on quite a few occasions. He has been on SS Disability for about 6-7 years. I am now retired, so we are together most of the time, which is sometimes good, sometimes bad. His mother & one sister are still living but are also alcoholics. Each time he would get out of the hospital, I would ask for them not to drink around him since he was really trying to stay sober. The last time was 4 months ago and two doctors told him and me that if he picked up an drank again, he would kill himself. That made no impact on them and continue to drink around him and get insulted when I chose not to drink with them. We lived near both of them until about two years ago when we decided to move about 150 miles away. My thinking was that if we got away from the drama and drinking, it would help him to be stronger. That plan is not working and he has started drinking again. He gets in the car and travels back to his mother’s about once a month, stays for long periods and drinks while I’m stuck here. I can no longer drive due to eye problems and feel totally isolated. Everyone in our apartment complex thinks he’s the most wonderful guy in the world. I don’t feel like I can talk to anyone here, because I don’t want to burst their bubble and he’s told me that I am not to tell anyone that he’s an alcoholic! I am at my whit’s end. I can’t take much more of this roller coaster ride.

  4. Mary April 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Reading the comments makes me feel better that I am not alone. Always though there was something wrong with me because my first husband was a weekend warrior. Never had any alcohol in the house but he was verbally abusive and physically abusive. Really loved him tried so hard to make it work but he could not hold a job and got drunk every weekend. Cheated on me more times then I can remember. Finally give up after ten years together…guess he really left me for someone else. Then along came my second husband a very hard worker, loving and supportive. Drank a glass of wine with dinner. Both have children from different marriages. Along the way did not notice his drinking getting worse. Until it’s when he comes home, greets the dogs and kiss me then straight to his whiskey. Two glasses of whisky before dinner. Wine with dinner you can see his mood change to a quiet moody and any time he will become very angry. Walking on egg shells waiting for the fireworks. Anything I say is wrong and the verbal abuse is awful. When he is sober what a huge change the man who save me and show me love. Want to help him though this awful battle.

  5. jasmine April 2018 at 9:51 pm

    I knew he drinks the first time I met him, 4 years and a kid later it has gotten worst. He is in long term disability now and he is in pain and he keeps on insisting it helps a bit but I don’t believe him. I drank and smoked when we were together, but when we had a child I limit my smoking and stopped drinking. Truthfully, I am ashamed of him when he is drunk! I used to work in this very reputable financial institution and he made a scene in our company dinner! I felt so embarrassed. Anywhere I take him he is always drunk and he causes a scene. We always fight and he alwas picks a fight when he’s drunk. I don’t wanna go anywhere if he’s drinking. I feel guilty and I cover up with lies! I feel stupid to putting up with this. Now my mom is with me and she sees everything and I still have to cover for him but I am reaching my limit.

  6. Bob April 2018 at 9:36 am

    wow. The “Jekyll and Hyde’ comment nailed it. That’s exactly what I call my girlfriend. Good vs bad. When she’s sober – it’s great. When she has ONE lime-a-rita, she’s buzzes. TWO -She morphs into attack mode. I’m just tired of it. I know it’s a disease. I know it can be treated. I was looking for an al-anon group to join and came across this site. Figured there had to be other stories. I had know idea there were so many. Many of the same emotions and feelings I have. I don’t know whether to kick her out or crawl under a rock and stay there. #lifesux

  7. Angie S. March 2018 at 11:29 am

    Thank you so very much for this post. I thought there was something wrong with me because I love my alcoholic husband so very much & many people just look at me blankly when I say that. It’s good to know that I’m not alone. I know it’s a disease & I liken it to my cancer. Hate the disease, love the person. Thank you.

  8. D'Anna March 2018 at 8:32 pm

    I hate the Jekyl and Hyde personalities. Sometime he has a “good drunk” and sometimes he has a “bad drunk”. Both are not the person I married. The “bad drunk is selfish, belligerent, mean, hateful and attacks everyone who dares walk in the room. Not physically though. When he is on a “good drunk” all he wants to do is hang all over me and go out of his way to find me in the house and talk to me about work or politics, or anything else that he can think of, and he is so incoherent I can’t make any sense out of him.The man I married is a good provider, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He would do anything for anybody. He carries on intelligent conversations. He only drinks every other night. The nights he doesn’t drink, he sleeps. If he isn’t sleeping it’s because we have things to do or someplace to be, but we don’t stay out late. He goes to work every day and hands his paycheck over every two weeks. He drinks a large bottle of Canadian Mist every 5 days, so by only drinking every other day, he goes through A LOT on drinking days. His liver numbers are so bad we cannot get cheap life insurance. I have put up with this for over 20 years, and I can’t stand it any longer. I can’t leave because we would lose our house without both incomes, and I don’t have any relatives close by to crash with. I just don’t know what to do anymore. Why won’t he quit? Does he hate himself more than he loves me?

  9. K February 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Love the person but hate the disease.
    That is freeing for me to hear. I often confuse who (or what) the hatred is for.
    Thank you for sharing

  10. KZ February 2018 at 12:18 pm

    I’ve been in a relationship with a man for 9mo who is about 16mo out of AA-rehab. The relationship is great but I want to understand more about the disease so that I don’t trigger any relapse.

    I am a social drinker and don’t really want to give up that social part of me to accommodate another. However, I am concerned because the relationship is becoming stronger and more serious. He even wants us to consider living together in a few months but I’m still on the fence about it and I don’t know if it’s too soon or not.

  11. Sal February 2018 at 4:14 am

    I read all these comments and relate. They are all so similar. I am a hamster on a wheel. Busy getting nowhere. At least I know I am not alone. This must be so common because drinking to excess seems to be a national pastime. How did this dangerous drug become so mainstream and acceptable when it is so harmful? I hate how it ruins people’s lives. But if alcohol did not exist then it would only be something else taking its place. Sometimes emotional pain is too hard to face and we need to mask the misery. Unfortunately alcohol is so perfect for this. I’m so sad for the extent of the suffering this pernicious condition causes. Too much pain. I am still shouting and screaming, shaming and judging my partner in the hope this will control his drinking, although in reality it appears to be increasingly having the opposite effect. Which of course it will. I know that. I helplessly continue nonetheless. Just as he does with his drinking. 2 rats in a trap. His drinking / my co-dependence / our relationship have shown me that I am on a journey of self-discovery. He is not the only one with ‘issues’. I am trying to work myself up to going to a meeting for families of those affected. I salute you all in your struggles and your courage and take hope! 😊

  12. Suz February 2018 at 12:27 am

    37 years and he’s driving me crazy. Memory probs. Talks thru tv programs. Just can’t deal with this one more minute.

  13. Kristal February 2018 at 7:02 pm

    I love my boyfriend, we have been together for over 6 years but I just can’t do it anymore. The alcohol causes him to be a different person. A lying, cheating, manipulative, mean man. I have never been to an Al-Anon meeting but I think I should go. I told him yesterday that I am no longer going to put up with this anymore. I am tired of him choosing the alcohol over me and our future together. I am wasting my life being stressed out over him and his behaviors. I know I can do better, everyone tells me so too. I don’t want to live like this, I am actually kinda happy he never proposed. I just can’t anymore.

  14. Natalie February 2018 at 12:04 am

    I know that being a alcoholic is difficult but how much more can one take. Watching someone you love destroy themself is mere torture and here I am doing that. I am at the end of my rope. I have been in this relationship for 14 yrs. He tried once and then started again. I’m not asking for a perfect life but why should I continue with him. I love him and I have stayed why can’t he love me enough to stop or at least try again! Angry,sad,and just regretting so much. How do I let go?

  15. Patricia February 2018 at 11:35 pm

    How is this a disease, I just don’t get it. Yes I think that there is something in them that’s so broken that they think a drink will fix the problem but it’s also a choice. My boyfriend is in rehab right now and I told him he could drink but not living with me. I can’t do this any more. I do miss him and love him but I feel so relaxed. I’m done. He doesn’t have any friends left and is chasing away all of mine.

  16. Kristen February 2018 at 11:41 pm

    I have dealt with alcoholism before professionally but never in my own life. I met this wonderful guy who had been recently divorced. He was kind, had a great career and seemed self-sufficient. We have now been dating for almost 5 years and we talk about getting married. I don’t think he ever really dealt with his divorce though. For the past couple of years he gets depressed, especially during the winter months. I tried to get him to seek help but he wouldn’t. For the first year I think he may have been on his best behavior and the second year was long distance. The 3rd and 4th year we have been living together and he has been drinking more and more. He blacks out and while never abusive, can be very mean when drunk. He always apologizes the next morning but never has any hang overs or consequences. Recently he got his first DUI and said he was going to cut back but went right back to heavy drinking just using an Uber instead. He finally started seeing a therapist when he started having trouble at work, and his new boss, who noticed the alcohol smell on him in the morning sent him to his first AA meeting. Now he is just angry and won’t talk to me and won’t talk to anyone else and says he is too busy to go back to AA. Not sure how I am supposed to plan my life with someone not willing to help themselves or let anyone else help them. Not sure what to do.

  17. Jenna January 2018 at 2:03 pm

    My boyfriend is a great man and he gave up drinking but he relapses and has one or two drinks a week and exhibits dry drunk behavior. Then he takes out his anger on me and tries to start fights it’s so hard because I know he loves me but when he gets like this he says such mean things. I know it’s the disease but It’s still so hard and I get so resentful and frustrated.

  18. Joanne S. January 2018 at 1:38 pm

    I live with a very loving guy. He has a big problem but gets very upset if you talk about it.
    Every night at 4 PM he starts his drinking. He drinks 12 to 20 cans every night. If he has to work the next day it is 12. We can’t go any place after 4, so evening is sitting here watching him get stupidly drunk. I love him but I like to go places sometimes and I’m not one to go alone.

  19. Karen January 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I am going to my second meeting tomorrow morning. Today is our 20th anniversary. I need coping skills to deal with all the emotions. My heart has been broken by years of his alcohol addiction, the cycle and all of the broken promises. What I have to say to unmarried people…do not fall in love with or marry an alcoholic or an addict. Run.

  20. Nancy January 2018 at 11:19 am

    I’ve been married for almost 46 years. My husband was a good man, he worked hard and very rarely missed a day of work. He loved me and was good to me. He was always impatient with our kids though. He smoked Pot when we were first married. It got worse until he was almost always high. I threatened to leave and he got better. I’m not sure when it started, but he switched to alcohol. He has progressively drank more over the years. Since he’s retired he’s also smoking Pot again and drinking. He is almost always high or drunk. I hate it so bad! I’m really beginning to resent him. I feel like he’s never really there for me. I can’t live like this much longer. I’m not a young woman and I live on SS. I don’t know how I would survive financially without his income.

  21. AW January 2018 at 1:49 pm

    My boyfriend is an alcoholic. He doesn’t like to admit it (but he has) and he tries to hide it. He doesn’t do a very good job. I drink some as well, but he just doesn’t know when to quit! We have had a few instances in the last several months that really make me question whether or not I should stay with him. We took our kids, his 2, my 2, his mom and dad and his grandma to an amusement park and I had to leave with him after about 30 mins because he was so drunk he couldn’t stand and tried to fight his dad. He was pretty hateful until he sobered up. Then last night he got mad and told me, “don’t (expletive) come back then!” All because I wouldn’t let him give me gas money. I have been a single mom for years and I don’t like taking his money. I text him later after I left and he didn’t remember….I love him and he is an amazing father to his kids and mine, when he is sober. But is it enough or should I leave now? I hate this!

  22. Krystyna January 2018 at 1:40 pm

    I’m considering going to my first Al-Anon meeting. For 4 years I was on and off with an abusive alcoholic before I ended it for good. I wasn’t looking for anything else, especially since I knew I had leftover issues from my last relationship. But I met someone, and before I knew it, we were together. I told him everything about my ex, and he was nothing but supportive and encouraging. However, as time goes on I’m worried he has a drinking problem as well. He isn’t wasted 24/7 like my ex was, has an incredible job, and treats me the way I’ve been hoping to be treated for a long time. But lately, he’s been blacking out more and more often. I drink as well and have no problem with it, but I also think there’s a time and a place. Two weekends we have gone away together, and he’s chosen to black out both weekends. Once he blackouts, he sees that I’m upset and picks arguments with me saying “no matter what he does, he can never make me happy”. Which isn’t true at all, I just wish he wouldn’t put drinking ahead of me. Likewise, him getting kicked out of bars for becoming too sloppy is happening more and more frequently, and it’s embarrassing. It hurts my feelings and is putting a strain on the relationship because it isn’t something I want to go through again. I can’t tell if a serious relationship is too much for him. He was single for 5 years before me. Am I being too hard on him and holding on to residual feelings? Or do I have a reason to be concerned?

  23. Sue January 2018 at 11:20 am

    Why won’t I leave? Financial security, I love so much about him when he is sober, we are “soul mates” but are we anymore? He can’t do outings without alcohol? He wants to watch sports, ride his Harley and drink and smoke. I want to do yoga, catch films and walk the beach. He changes when he drinks and he’s zoned out by 7pm cause he eats edibles too. He says he needs it to numb the pain of growing up with an alcoholic father and divorced household and the stress of work and bills…blah blah. Twenty years of marriage first 10 perfect, he drank then too but he metabolized it differently. He went to fat or angry. Am I shallow to call him fat. I am mad, I am angry we don’t ever talk about his alcohol and pot addiction cause he told me that is who he is plans on continuing. Should I leave my comfy life of ocean view home, awesome neighbors, great yoga,…and the man I love. Do I mess up the family I committed to? I don’t care what anyone says marriage has its own set of problems and divorce just adds another set of problems.

  24. Renee January 2018 at 5:48 pm

    I’m a newbie. I haven’t been to a meeting yet, but considering going. I grew up in an alcoholic family. I do enjoy a drink or two, beer, a glass of wine even a bourbon on ice. But when I met my ABF, I didn’t really know to what extent alcoholism would be so hard to deal with. My ABF and I went to the same high school, I had a crush on him but he was in football, a popular guy. We did hook up once at a skating rink but that was it. We went our ways and 40 years later, at a high school reunion we hooked up again and it’s been the two of us in love from that time. I knew he drank a lot, I drank too. But it wasn’t until later, after he moved in with me that I realized it just wasn’t social drinking but he had a real problem. After several incidents where I’ve been drinking so much that I’ve blacked out, I decided to cut back and have so far successfully been able to only have a drink on weekends with friends and know where my limit is. I’m very proud of my strength and willpower, I’ve always been a strong person and when I set my mind to do something I do it. But my ABF is not so strong. We’ve talked about cutting back and he agrees, but I now realize that he’s just agreeing to make me happy. I’ve lived with him long enough to know when he’s sober, when he’s just had a couple of beers, and when he’s had hard liquor and a couple of beers and is drunk. The other night, after he passed out, I went searching and found his hidden bottle. It devastated me to know he lies to me. It’s almost or even equal to if he was having an affair and lied about it. The next morning I went to look to see if he’d snuck a shot with his coffee and to my shock, it was gone. He had taken it to work. If he gets caught drinking on the job he will be fired on the spot. For him to take such a chance not only hurts so deep inside me, but makes me so angry I just want to kick him out and be done with it all. But I love him.

  25. John January 2018 at 3:23 pm

    My wife is an alcoholic and won’t admit it and refuses to get help. She has driven most of her family away. I can’t stand being around her. She’s nuts. The people I confide in ( not many ), call me an enabler. I’m afraid to confront her most of the time. I am at wit’s end and don’t know what to do.

  26. Eric January 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Aren’t there any men affected by this? Am I an idiot?

  27. Joan January 2018 at 10:22 am

    I am going to go to my first Al-Anon meeting. Alcohol is all around me, and I hate it. This New Year’s was an absolute disaster because my husband got so drunk. It was so awful. I could not look anyone in the eyes. I have not stopped crying. I have said maybe 5 words to my husband in 2 days. I love him so much, but hate how alcohol takes over him and he cannot stop or turn back. I do not know what to do. I am hoping Al-Anon will help.

  28. Alice January 2018 at 10:23 pm

    My husband is the most wonderful man who loves me, is good to me & a great father to our daughter but he has a terrible problem, & I fear it will kill him. He will quit drinking for months while trying to lose weight, succeed in losing the weight & then go back to drinking. I also have a hatred of alcohol – drinking has never done anything for me except make me sad & anxious. & it’s ruining our lives

  29. Alice January 2018 at 5:31 pm

    I love that you said that you hate alcohol, because that is how I feel a lot of the time. I very often think that Prohibition was a not half bad idea, and feel like I could be Carrie Nation throwing an ax into a barroom mirror to shake up all the people getting drunk in there! I’m not a drinker, never have been really but married to an alcoholic whom I love dearly but I see his problem drinking ruining his health, and my heart is breaking.

  30. Taleen B. December 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I know exactly how you all feel. I thought I was insane and alone…..How could I love my sober fiancé and hate the alcoholic in him?
    I hate the disease and the fact that they still keep going back and destroying themselves and everyone around them. However I see my fiancé for the loving, caring, kindhearted, generous man that he is when he is sober. He is mentally and emotionally suffering, and it breaks my heart.

  31. Carol December 2017 at 9:31 am

    Al-Anon helped me find myself again. It was only through the ongoing weekly meetings and listening again and again to the ways other people had solved their problems with alcoholism and letting go of so much ‘stuff’ that stopped me being who I really was that I started to recover. It was a slow process and it wasn’t until I really worked the Al-Anon program that I started to get better. It’s true what they say. “It works if you work it”. I see my husband now as the person I first met. He has mellowed as I have mellowed. I can see the benefits of truly and deeply following the Al-Anon program in my own recovery. It’s amazing how that seems to also have affected those around me in such a positive way. Thank you Al-Anon and my dear friends in my home group who helped me work those magic steps.

  32. Ines December 2017 at 1:23 am

    My husband is the same way. He promises too many things but can’t keep it.

  33. Deb December 2017 at 7:22 am

    I understand, it seems like all is going well and then my alcoholic husband drinks again. I used to go to Al-Anon; continue to use the slogans & materials. I will continue to live and love, all I can do with God’s help.

  34. Alyssa December 2017 at 10:22 pm

    This is exactly how I feel. I love my fiancé and the man that he truly is. I genuinely have a hatred for alcohol. I no longer have the desire to go out with friend and “have a drink” because the thought genuinely makes me sick. Alcohol has taken everything from me. My car has been crashed, constantly going broke, mine and my daughters happiness (most days), my emotional and mental well-being, the list goes on and on. I don’t hate my fiancé, although I do have resentment. I really don’t know what to do anymore. It’s so much more than I can handle and if I can turn back time, I think my life would’ve been totally different.

  35. Jane Paula L. December 2017 at 2:59 am

    This is how exactly I feel.

  36. Krissy December 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I totally get that. It is how I feel. I love my husband hate the disease. When he hit rock bottom, he apologized. But I still saw the man I deeply care for and love.

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