AA / Alon / Emotional Abandonment - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-21-2015, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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AA / Alon / Emotional Abandonment

I've been married for 13 years, and found out a few days ago that my wife had 2 emotional affairs. They started when she began treatment for alcoholism and went to AA several years ago, and lasted until recently.

During MC, the therapist took a lot of time to educate me on how this was common during the recovery process. I understand about as well as I think I can, and while I'm angry it's not something I'm holding onto.

What is bothering me, and which I'm looking for some insight or advice on, is the concept of detachment and co-dependency which they teach at AA meetings. It seems to me that these are meant to protect the non-addicted spouse from continual abuse in a scenario where they continue to try to help their spouse but due to the addiction it's just not going to work out well for them.

In my case, my wife has adopted these as a means of emotionally detaching to the point of emotional abandonment. I don't know how much having these emotional attachments to other men have contributed to this, but she tosses out "co-dependency" and "loving-detachment" from her recovery process (I don't believe she understands them or how they should be used, but I'm no expert either).

I'm working with the therapist on this, but I'm finding it difficult to figure out how to handle my own needs. If my wife is crying, she doesn't want me to comfort her. There is no physical contact between us at all - no hugs, no kissing, etc. I'm basically in a waiting stage as she has to decide if she wants to participate in the marriage or if we should just end it. I don't know how long I'm willing to wait yet, but I've made it clear what I need and expect from the marriage.

There is still a very large hole in my life - I've been deprived of any sort of emotional or physical affection for years. I'm going out, having fun, making new friends, but I still have this hole in my life where affection and love are missing. I still find myself wanting this from my wife when she is unable or unwilling to provide it. My wife is scared I will have an affair - she's not providing for my needs, I'm certainly vulnerable having been deprived for so long, and she's had affairs. It's not stopping me from taking care of myself, but it does strain the relationship.

Any tips or advice on how to continue?
  • How to stop looking for love from a spouse that isn't willing to give it (yet)?
  • How to lesson the need or find ways of addressing the need for affection without having an affair?

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 01:51 AM
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Re: AA / Alon / Emotional Abandonment

I'm not all that familiar with the AA/Al-Anon stuff. But from what you describe and what is going on it sounds like you would benefit from interacting with her according to the 180. See the link in my signature block below.

This will help you pull away emotionally and protect you until either she decides that she wants to work on your marriage or you fall out of love with her and decide to divorce her.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 06:57 AM
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Re: AA / Alon / Emotional Abandonment

Well, do not martyr your well-being for her's. Unless she gives you a hall pass until she is ready, your best option is to find another after separation.

You should be honest with yourself, your love for her is fading fast. Love is a drive that needs reinforcement. Words can only go so far, and love is mostly felt through action.

If she cannot provide you with the needs you need to be in a relationship, then your attachment to her will just go extinct over time.

A love neglected is a love destroyed. So do not feel guilty if you want to leave her. Learn to prioritize yourself.

If you both are not open to an open marriage, your options are to leave, or suffer and resent. And if you detach emotionally to protect yourself, your love for her will die as well over time. Detachment is the art of becoming indifferent.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Re: AA / Alon / Emotional Abandonment

Re: 180

Yes, that's basically what I'm doing. Having my own life that doesn't revolve around her recovery has given me some measure of separation and distance. And it has lessened the emotional impact I feel at being rejected. Living with a recovering alcoholic is sometimes like living with a child.

MC is involved and the big thing being worked on is my spouse deciding to participate in the marriage. He has said it might take a few more sessions. If it doesn't work, then I'll end the marriage. In the meantime, I'm continuing with living my life and building new friendships, taking care of myself.

From a practical standpoint, it can still be difficult when I come home to someone that I love but who refuses to participate in the marriage. How do other people deal with this? I may already be doing everything I can, but without discussion I don't know for certain.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 06:01 PM
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Re: AA / Alon / Emotional Abandonment

If your wife has been in EA(s) for the last few years, then the affairs more likely are the driver behind her pulling away, not the AA/Alcoholism. You're likely better off focusing on the affairs.

That said, affairs can easily happen in recovery because the meetings have a lot of emotional, intense, vulnerable conversation. It is very easy for people to develop an "Us against The World/We understand each other better than anyone else!" thing going. For this reason, AAs have women-only and men-only meetings, and people are encouraged to stick with same-sex sponsors (at least for heterosexuals.) If she is continuing in the program and you two decide to stay married, it would be a wise decision for her to stick to the women-only meetings/sponsors.

You also might consider going to a few Alanon meetings. You'd find out more about the co-dependency and it's likely you'll find some people who have been in your shoes.

Best of luck!

"If we hurt, we hurt others. If we love....guess what? Easy math, the basics, really. Add love, subtract anger, multiple kindness, divide suffering." Emergent Buddhist.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-29-2015, 11:26 PM
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Re: AA / Alon / Emotional Abandonment

I agree with RoseAglow. I had alcohol addiction treatment in Calgary 6 years back, and have been to AA. The level of emotional dependence on your co-AA members is too deep. I still have a number of friends from AA -those that I met 6 years back.

I have some alternative advice- but has she recovered from her addiction yet? If she hasn't, try a good rehab center that has residential rehab programs and counselling. Iíd suggest Canada Drug rehab ( Residential Alcohol & Drug Rehabilitation Programs Centers | Canada Drug Rehab Centres ) if you were in Canada. I had a friend in AA who had this problem, and he had a similar problem. Both of them were addicts, and she was very much into her friends at AA.

P.S. If you lover her, and are confident that you'll continue to love her, donít leave her. Remember-itís not her. Itís the alcohol.
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