in Rehab? Divorce or Stay the Course?
by DR. UHR on JANUARY 29, 2011
Is your alcoholic spouse in rehab? It has probably been a very long, painful road for you and your family.
Now your spouse has finally agreed to get help. Several times in my practice,
I have seen several people serve divorce papers to their alcoholic wife or alcoholic husband when they are in rehab.
They choose to start divorce proceedings in rehab where their alcoholic spouse has support since the stress of a pending divorce may trigger an alcoholic relapse.
The spouse of an alcoholic often wonders if they should divorce or stay the course (stay married).
Here are 4 common reasons people “leave” their alcoholic spouse:
1. Their alcoholic husband or alcoholic wife has had an affair and this betrayal crossed a line that they feel unable to forgive even though their spouse is finally ready and willing to quit drinking.
2. Their alcoholic spouse has been in rehab several times and their partner has lost hope that another stint in rehab will lead to true recovery.
3. Their alcoholic spouse has hurt them and their children so deeply that their partner can’t let go of the anger and resentment that has built up.
4. They are tired of living the life of waiting for the “other shoe to drop”. They want off the roller coaster ride. In other words, periods of sobriety for their spouse are always followed by relapse.
Here are 4 reasons people stay with their alcoholic spouse:
1. They feel hopeful their alcoholic husband or alcoholic wife will quit drinking.
2. They are codependent and are not able to face their fear of being on their own.
3. They feel they have invested so many years already dealing with their alcoholic spouse’s addiction that leaving their spouse feels like they have failed or that they feel they are punishing their spouse for having a disease.
4. For women with children who are financially dependent on an alcoholic spouse, they may be unwilling to change their lifestyle or unwilling to risk trusting their alcoholic spouse to be alone with their children in a divorce situation.
Getting divorced is as big decision as is staying with an alcoholic spouse. Basically, either choice is a risk.
I think when someone goes to rehab that is important to give that person a chance to do better after they have learned some skills to live a sober life.
Usually, the spouse of an alcoholic has codependent tendencies which need to be addressed or their marriage will not change and they will end up in a similar situation down the road.