A 12-Steps Marriage

After 10 years of life with an alcoholic, I finally learned that I was part of the problem in our marriage.
A 12-Steps Marriage
Image: PAUL / LIGHTSTOCK

Hi, my name is Taylor* and I'm a grateful member of Al-Anon."

Once a week, I say those words. And after two years, I am still floored by that statement and by the truth behind it.

I dragged myself into Al-Anon after 10 years of trying to figure out my husband's drinking, after 13 years of a difficult marriage. A couples' counselor recommended Al-Anon moments after I almost hyperventilated from a temper tantrum. "You might benefit from Al-Anon," he said gently, the understatement of the century. I did not want to go. I did not think I needed to go. I'm not the one with the problem, I told myself, and my husband, and our counselor. He needs to go AA, I thought. I do not need to go to Al-Anon. But I went. And it changed my life.

Some things I absolutely must stress. I am a Christ-follower. So is my husband. We already were Christians when we got married. And we've been attending a great church for years, both of us very involved.

I came to realize that I obsessed about my husband and our difficult marriage in much the same way he would obsess about his next drink.

At the same time, my husband is a functioning alcoholic. And until about a year ago, I was a non-functioning co-dependent. I wouldn't have admitted it before Al-Anon. I wouldn't have seen it in myself. But I was doing many things to encourage this addiction and to break my husband's spirit, completely unaware and feeling completely justified. Co-dependency defined as simply as possible is this: addiction to a person and/or that other person's problem. A co-dependent is someone who thrives unhealthily, even unknowingly, on helping others and on being needed. I came to realize that I obsessed about my husband and our difficult marriage in much the same way he would obsess about his next drink. And it finally dawned on me that if anything were taking over God's rightful place in my mind and heart, I needed to look into my part in our dysfunctional dance.

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May 25

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