An update and a prayer request
Thank you all so much for your kind and helpful words in my post from last week. I was on a camping trip with our son this weekend, and therefore wasn’t able to talk with Dh until Sunday. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it gave me time away from the situation in which to think, read, and pray. And I needed that.
Now that I’m reading more into what it means to be an adult child of an alcoholic, I see how my husband fits so many of the tendencies. It explains everything – his need to be in control, his need to not be at fault for anything, his fear of conflict, his difficulty relaxing and having fun, his need to protect and favor his mother over me, his fear of sharing emotions or needs. His personality changes so much when he’s around his father. None of this is new, but I finally have a label to put on it, a starting point from which I can help him. It helps to finally have a reason for his behaviors, even though he denies his father’s issues have affected him. I can be more empathetic and understanding of his behavior.
It’s been 20 years of confusion as to why the man I fell in love with so drastically changed after we married and moved to his home town. I have loved him this whole time, and my own mental breakdown ten years ago certainly put a wrench in my ability to help him. Blessedly, I feel as though the soul searching of the last few days has given me a more define purpose in our marriage.
As I continue to research what it means to be married to an ACoA, I humbly ask for your prayers. My own mental illness and intensive therapy a decade ago puts me in a good position from which to understand him and the best way to help him grow. However, it also means that my own self care is important. I need to strike a healthy balance. I need strength as I embark on this journey.
All that being said, I am optimistic. There is much that is written on how to help someone in this situation, and I’m reading everything that I can. My current goal is to be a better listener, and better at validating his emotions. He is currently uncomfortable when his emotions are defined through a statement such as, “Gosh, I can see why that’s frustrating for you.” It completely unnerves him, and that’s a classic ACoA trait. He learned for so many years that he didn’t have the right to have emotions – and he relearns this every week when he sees his father. It’s so terribly sad.
I’d ultimately like to get him into therapy, but that’s a long way off and I can’t even suggest it right now. I absolutely cannot do this without God beside me every step of the way. And so, I humbly ask for prayers. Thank you all for your amazing support. I was blessed when God put you into my life.
Thanks for sharing. Prayers are going up for you and your DH. I believe your sincerity , diligence in learning about his condition, and your commitment to your marriage and MB will produce wonderful fruit! You are heading in the right direction!
I will pray for you. I want to encourage you to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and to believe God is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do. Only Christ in you, can do what He’s calling you to do. There is true change and redemption in Him. There is full healing and wholeness available in Him…not that there isn’t a process to it much of the time. And we can be set free from the bondages of our pasts. In Luke 4:17-21 we are remind Jesus is the fulfillment of,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
Our hope is Christ alone.
In my prayers, I will be praying that your husband sees Jesus in you and is drawn to Him and all that He is.
Praise God for being able to see the situation more clearly after that chance to step away. It sounds like you are taking the right approach, and while I don’t envy the place you’re in, I empathize with the challenge of loving a spouse who has lots of childhood trauma. I join you in continuing to lift up prayers and let Jesus be the Healer for you husband!
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
You are amazing DoveGrey; your heart is after His. I pray that God gives you both strength and wisdom, and that He blesses you and your husband.
his need to not be at fault for anything, his fear of conflict, his difficulty relaxing and having fun, his need to protect and favor his mother over me, his fear of sharing emotions or needs. His personality changes so much when he’s around his father.
I do want to add that these are not right behaviors, and while it isn’t your place to change him, you want to be mindful of not enabling the wrong behaviors thus allowing him to stagnate. What I am essentially saying is don’t feel the need to validate something that is wrong, it is better to be silent in that case. Your first weapon in this is prayer – pray for your husband every day that God will heal and grow him and pray for wisdom and strength for yourself. Be able to stand back and allow your husband to feel his failures when it can help him grow. Do all that you can to encourage places and situations that would foster growth. Another idea is, are there any men’s groups or bible study where he can be around other men who are in a place to lead and grow him through some of the hardships he has. My mother was an alcoholic for many of my teen years while growing up, so I know that family situations can be very difficult, unhealthy, and sometimes even toxic – they can affect the person and also the relationships a person has.
Thanks for the update/follow-up. Your faithfulness, willingness to share, and outstanding advice stemming from real-life experience have blessed this community greatly. You have my complete respect!
It’s great to hear that you’ve sourced many of your DH’s behaviors to his family’s history of alcohol. I’m a second-generation descendent of an alcoholic father. My grandfather was verbally abusive when drinking, and I suspect physically abusive at times. Being a grandson, I can look at the whole family of kids (over a half dozen, though will not state the exact number to protect my anonymity) and see all sorts of problems even though they’re all in their late 50’s to early 70’s. There was some serious damage there that was never addressed.
I suggest looking into second-generation effects to see if there are any concerns for your kids or recommendations for helping them (if any help is needed). I haven’t looked into this myself, but anecdotally I see several traits standing out in myself, siblings, and cousins. For me, I have been uncomfortable and overly legalistic about alcohol for as long as I can remember. It was kind of instilled into me by my mother.
Not much to add, DoveGrey, other than an offering of prayers and warm wishes. Both my wife and I are ACoC, and I have to say it has taken me much longer than you to figure out the different ways that changes someone. The best I can do is to watch for it impacting my behavior negatively, and be aware of when that is going on with my wife as well.
I saw an interesting meme on Facebook just yesterday, and I think it will speak volumes to you.
“KNOWING YOUR PARTNERS TRAUMA IS A LOVE LANGUAGE”
Thank you, all. Your support means more than I can say.
Scott, I appreciate your perspective. I have focused so much on keeping my children’s sights on what is good. My son pulled away from a relationship with his grandfather when he was six because he didn’t like his brusque nature. My daughter took longer, but as she’s hit her late teen years, she sees that something’s not normal over there. She keeps herself away.
A large part of the problem is that we’re “required” to go to family dinner there every week, at the expense of anything else. This comes from my mother-in-law, who is a classic abused wife. She controls through guilt and manipulation. I was actually banned from going over there when I was in my outpatient mental health program. So now I only go when I feel I can handle it, and my kids are now starting to pull back, as well. But I’m mindful that they could be affected by this.
@SD595, I agree with you. For the longest time, I just tolerated these behaviors because of issues that I had. But I see now how enabling that was.
I think the worst part is how much in denial he is. I know what happened in his childhood because I hear it from his older brother. My husband either denies it or he has repressed the memories. Either way is problematic. It will be a long journey, but I stand firm in my faith that God can heal this.