How long do I wait for him to come out of denial?

communication
alcohol
relationship

#1

I currently feel broken-hearted. I compassionately confronted my partner of 15 years regarding his alcohol addiction yesterday (I have done this in the past as well.) and he is currently in denial or more so, he is placing the binge alcohol consumption blame on me (that I make him drink that much). I have been sober since August of this year and want healing in our relationship but I am unsure how long I should wait for him to wake up and want to change. I think a day after is too soon but he was not receptive so my hope waivers.


#2

Christina,

Welcome and thank you for reaching out. Congratulations on your months of sobriety. It sounds like you’re really dedicated to improving your life and that of your partner. First, I want to ask if you feel safe in your home, and to please seek help immediately if you feel your health or safety are at risk.

Next, if you are physically safe, I would like to ask more about your goals for yourself and your relationship. It sounds like you are finding satisfaction in sobriety. What changed for you? Also, it sounds like you are trying to figure out how to tell if continuing to invest in this relationship is in the best interest of your sober life, is that accurate? I would love to be able to give you an exact time frame: studies show that if he hasn’t turned a corner is 6 months, he never will. In fact, no such studies exist, and there’s no set timeframe for recovery. What will likely happen is you will have to continue making positive changes in your life, and the way you interact with those around you, including your partner. What resources are you using to maintain your sobriety? Do you have a therapist?

Thank you again for sharing.


#3

Congratulations on your sobriety, @christinaaa. Healing begins with you, and it sounds like you’re on the right track. Unfortunately, there is no defined time length for how long it should take someone to seek help for their addiction. I’m sure being in recovery yourself, you can understand that.

I agree with @Renee_312 - Continue to focus on your sobriety and mental health. I’ve found that the more I take care of myself, the better I’m able to support my husband in his recovery.

How are you today? How are you taking care of yourself?


#4

Thanks for sharing @christinaaa <3

Firstly, it helps to understand the tie substances can have on someone. Know that it can be very hard to change substance using behavior when someone has some kind of dependence on it. And that it may be different for you than him. That happens a lot, we all have different reactions to substances.

In my experience, and from all the village members I’ve worked with, things won’t necessarily change in one conversation. But maintaining connection and having well-timed conversations that make use of specific skills can help. Especially with positive communication techniques we teach in our course. And I’ll link to a post on these HERE.

A few other thoughts come to mind for me immediately in response to your post.

  1. Timing is really important, if you find yourself meeting resistance in a conversation it can be better to pull back and try at another time more conducive to talking about it. Asking for permission to have a conversation on this topic can also help.
  2. Often times the person we’re speaking with will be very protective over their use. They get a benefit out of it reliably and so by attacking the use, they put their guards up and dig in their heals more. It can be more useful to broach the conversation by finding common ground upon which you can both agree, such as the negative consequences of use: hangovers, health complications, trouble at work, depression, missed obligations, letting down family members etc. Insert whatever they may be for your loved one. Oftentimes we can talk about these without putting them on the defense.
  3. Stages of change: another concept we teach in the course is that people’s motivation to make changes, changes over time. Time meaning - weeks, days, hours, and even minutes! So it’s a good idea to match your conversation to their level of motivation. When are they more motivated to make healthy changes? Is it when they’re particularly hungover and feeling tender? Or when they’re in a good mood? If you’re trying to push for action when they’re in pre-contemplation (not even thinking there’s a problem) then there’s much less chance you’ll get through to them.

I’d love to welcome you to join me in the Group Course - perfect timing as we’re just starting another cycle from the beginning NOW - for more on these and other vital skills when loving someone through addiction or recovery, and either way, I hope the above is helpful to your immediate questions!


#5

I waited 5 years for my husband to get help. All that time my pastor counseled him, trying to help him control his drinking, but he still could not stop. It wasn’t until his drinking got really bad and he actually lied to my pastor about it and he started displaying more angry and aggressive behavior toward methat I asked the elders of our church to step in and push him go to detox. I believe my husband would still be drinking if he was not made to go. He was too scared, ashamed, and proud to get help without that push. I believe he will thank me one day for it. So in your case, I would say to allow any consequences to happen that would be that push for your partner. Don’t try to get him out of things. For instance, don’t wake him up for work after a night of drinking. Also, don’t let yourself be the bad guy, as much as you can help it. He will use you as an excuse to drink. The youtube channel, Put the Shovel Down, has a lot of great advice that I have found very helpful.