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Alcoholism and Divorce

"Alcoholism and Divorce, They Are Often Present "
copyright 2011, all rights reserved

by Toby Rice Drews
author of the "Getting Them Sober" books

What about when we see couples getting divorced and there is no alcoholism? We often think, "there's no drinking there" and wonder why in the world they think they have problems.

When I receive calls for telephone counseling from such persons, and take a family history, often it is revealed that there is indeed alcohol-ism------ maybe not active drinking------ but certainly the "ism" is there. What's a "typical scenario"?

She is the adult child of a minister........ the minister is a teetotaler and an adult child of an abusing alcoholic---- so she is the grandchild of an alcoholic.

Her husband is an adult child of an alcoholic father.

Neither of them drinks.

Both of them have "inherited" the patterns of behavior in generational alcoholic families and haven't a clue as to why they are having tremendous difficulties with----

a. chronic low-level depression
b. burnout from a lifestyle of excessive caretaking
c. huge guilt about saying no to anything
d. much shame about presenting anything less than a perfect "front" to the public about their family histories

How does this couple differ from other divorcing couples who do not come from alcoholic families?

When there is no history of alcoholism or major mental illness in those couples (and that is about half of American families)-----then there are spiritual maladies of course------- and immaturity and selfishness and shame ------ but these issues do not exist to the EXTENT that they exist in alcoholic families.

We who "come from" alcohol-ism have huge dollops of --------

a. more shame/ simmering resentment/ touchiness
b. more irrational guilt about lessening any caretaking
c. more need to present the perfect "front" about who we are and where we come from.

When I meet an over-working, over-achieving, 'perfect' person------- I'm willing to lay odds on the fact that I've just met an adult child of an alcoholic.

And when I meet a couple and the wife is frustrated because she feels this bottomless pit about the need to connect--------and her husband buries himself in work and cannot emotionally connect----------- and he feels 'pushed' by her.......and she feels walls around him----------- I'm willing to lay odds on the fact that they are both from alcoholic families. WE FIND EACH OTHER------- WE HAVE ALCOHOLIC-FAMILY RADAR.....AND WE MARRY EACH OTHER..... best to all in recovery, Toby

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