For the past four days I have been sharing with you my testimony of how God got me through the darkest days of my life. The links are above. There were many lessons to be learned during those darkest of days. Here are some things I learned from my experience that I want to share with you.
Know that God is not surprised by this and is in total control of the situation. That was what kept me going. during the darkest, scariest days. Knowing that God was there with me gave me the hope and courage to keep going. He will not leave you nor forsake you. You will question Him from time to time, but He doesn’t mind. Jeremiah 29:11.
Know that it is not your fault. It is so easy to blame yourself for so many reasons, but it is not your fault. It’s not anyone else’s fault either. As much as you may want to blame your in-laws or his friends or whoever, it’s not their fault. He made the choice to drink. Other’s may blame you. My mother in-law blamed me. She thought I was the one who introduce him to alcohol when in fact it was the other way around. That was a hard lesson for her to learn, not blaming others.
Forgiveness is key. Jesus died for your husband’s alcoholism, just as he died for your sins. Learn to forgive. Forgive him every single day, before you go to bed. Don’t get into the habit of holding a grudge. Forget what is behind and press on for the goal. Your aren’t doing this for him but for you. This does not mean that your husband doesn’t deal with the consequences of his drinking. It frees you to grow closer to the Lord during this time.
It is nothing to be ashamed of. You may be embarrassed but do not be ashamed. There is a huge difference. Do not deny there is a problem because you are embarrassed.
As soon as you suspect the alcoholism, begin to pray. Pray for wisdom and grace to handle this. Pray for your spouse to realize there is a problem and will seek help. Pray for your kids to be protected spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. (If you are in an abusive situation, please get out and seek help right away.) Pray for the extended family to have wisdom and grace to deal with this. MM’s mother had a hard time accepting the fact that her son was an alcoholic and wanted to enable him. She also thought she could “reason with him” and talked him to death about drinking. I had to pray for patience with her and for her to accept the truth about alcoholism.
Do not nag your husband about his drinking. It does no good to nag. Face it, the real reason you are nagging is to help yourself feel better. It only makes him feel worse and drink more.
Do not, under any circumstances, take your anger out on your kids. I can not tell you how many times I was angry with my husband, but trying on my own to be gracious towards him, lost my temper with my children. It not fair to them and will damage your relationship with them more than you can realize. Even after the apologies, the damage is done and healing takes time.
Find someone you can vent to. I had one really good friend who would listen to me vent, never judge me and never, ever repeated what I said. I tried Al-Anon, but for me, my friend was better. If Al-Anon works for you, great. Just find someone you can talk to.
Realize that you are in this for the long haul. You made a vow to love your husband for better or worse, sickness and in health, richer or poorer. It may take months, even years before your husband decides to seek help. It was 9 years for us. I know I said above that he struggled with it for over 15 years and he did. For the first 6 years, it didn’t seem to be a problem because he didn’t drink “all the time.” Hang in there. The blessings you receive are well worth it!
You may need to take on more responsibility. I had to begin doing the bills by myself. Driving the kids around became an all the time thing for me. (I was thankful when my twins could drive.) Some days you will feel like the only grow-up in the family.
Get on a budget if you are not already. You need to have some money put away for when your husband loses his job. Not “if”–“when.” Even if your husband owns his own business, like mine did, he will lose his job. His employer will fire him because of his drinking and job performance, or if he owns his own business, word will get out that he has a drinking problem and will lose clients, which will put him out of business. Be prepared.
Do what you can. Do what you can to try to help your husband, but realize he has to want the help before he will accept it.
Learn all you can about alcoholism. Learn how it affects him, how it affects you, how it affects your children. Learn about enabling and what to do about it. Learning helps you to better understand about alcoholism and why he drinks and give you a little more compassion and understanding.
There is so much more I could say about this. If you have questions or would just like to vent, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know that I am praying for you!