Alcoholism and Marriage


Alcoholism and Marriage

Alcoholism and Marriage; Underlying Issues

By Ned Wicker

There’s one thing for sure that you can say about Gloria and her ex-husband Chuck, they both know how to keep the fight going long after the initial disagreement has been forgotten. The divorce isn’t final yet, mainly because there are more punches to be thrown and more hurt to inflict.

The kids, well, they really don’t count anyway, except that both parents believe firmly that the other isn’t fit t be a parent. Solomon will have to get out his sword and cut them all in two.

It wasn’t always like this and there’s certainly enough blame to go around. In their heart of hearts they might be able to face the truth of the situation, but denial is a strong habit and so when faced with the prospect of having to take personal responsibility, it is an easier path to blame the other. There were the good days, but those are a distant memory. The good days were before the alcohol took over.

It’s not like the two of them became raging alcoholics over night. They had common interests, common friends and that was enough for a while. Gloria realized that she couldn’t really handle drinking, mainly because she said if you put one beer in front of her the case would disappear.

She’ll tell you that now, even though she says she hasn’t been drinking. She’ll even admit to being an alcoholic, because she believes she has all of the symptoms of alcoholism. However, she has never received treatment and she doesn’t go to meetings. Chuck, on the other hand, is the opposite. He doesn’t have a problem.

Things started falling apart when Gloria stopped her drinking habits entirely. She said that she couldn’t have any alcohol, so she said she stopped. Chuck, however, continued his drinking, every day. Gloria could live with it, for a while, that is until she determined that Chuck’s drinking became more important than the kids, or their marriage, or going to work in the morning.

That led to arguments, bitter feelings and resentment. Chuck felt he was being unfairly target by his wife, and Gloria thought Chuck was a drunk who needed treatment. The kids, of course, got to watch all 15 rounds.

Finally Gloria decided she had gone far enough. The ultimatum got handed down—either he quit drinking, or he would have to leave. Chuck insisted the house was his, so she would have to leave. She did, with the kids, and so the legal fighting began. The pawns in the deal were the kids, who are the stakes in the divorce proceedings.

Everything is an issue, as the two parents fight. It’s not a matter of doing the right thing; it’s a zero sum game of darts. He wants 50 percent custody and she wants full custody. The finger pointing and verbal barrage carries over into every conversation Gloria has. She is willing to fight to the finish, even though she complains that she doesn’t have the money to keep the attorney on the attack.

Chuck isn’t going to stop drinking, because he doesn’t have a problem. Gloria may not be drinking, but she holds firmly to a perceived moral high ground. They feed off of each other’s anger.

Is alcohol the sole reason why this family has been shattered? There are other factors, but alcohol certainly brought all of the problems to the surface. If one of the parties is a slave to alcohol, alcohol will do the reasoning. Alcohol will win this divorce proceeding. All other parties involved in this divorce are going to lose.

Ned Wicker is the Addictions Chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital Lawrence Center

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