How to know if divorce is the right option?



My husband recently completed a 21-day in patient stay for alcoholism and then began intensive outpatient when he returned home. At first, he seemed to be doing really well. But after his first week back, he slipped and got drunk. Unlike previous occasions pre-rehab where I would have gotten angry and yelled or thrown him out, I decided to take a more gentle, compassionate approach. I also didn’t want him to feel isolated, knowing what a trigger that is for him (and learning here and in therapy more about the role isolation plays in addiction). We worked through it great. I was so pleasantly surprised, though still wary that another slip might be around the corner.

This morning we got into a minor argument, after which I apologized for not being gentler in my approach, which he seemed to really appreciate. I went to work feeling like everything was ok but he became unresponsive, just as he used to when he was drinking. He “worked from home,” just as he used to when drinking. I’ve been trying to reach him, his family has tried to reach him, his friends have tried to reach him and he’s been responsive here and there to tell us he isn’t drinking and to back off. I feel like we’re being sucked back into old ways and I’m not sure I can handle going through that again. We also have a toddler and a second baby on the way, so it’s complicated and I need to put our babies first.

I guess my question is, how do you decide when enough is enough and divorce is the right option? I don’t want to be unsupportive of the man I love, but I also don’t want to keep going through this. I’m trying to behave and react differently, I’m going to individual therapy to work on things myself, but it feels like he doesn’t want to meet me half way. At the same time, I feel like if I leave him, he will almost certainly spiral back into full blown addiction. So I feel this pressure to stay for his sake, too. How do I decide what’s right for me and my babies knowing that what I choose could have dire consequences on the husband I love so dearly? I feel like there aren’t any good options here.


I’m sorry you’re being faced with this incredibly difficult question. Divorce is something I think every spouse has thought about when married to someone suffering from addiction. I definitely had to think about it when my husband was in active addiction with no real motivation to change. Was this my life now? How could I live like this? If he kept it up, I couldn’t. Even now that he is clean and doing great in recovery, a part of me knows that divorce might be an option some day because who knows what will happen in the future. But that’s the thing: we don’t know what will happen in the future. So I focus on right now. And right now, divorce is nowhere in the equation. In fact, we have plans to grow our family.

A few things to keep in mind that help me:

  • Early recovery is hard on everyone. Change is hard. There may be slips and relapses in the first few years. Relapse does not mean failure. It doesn’t mean he’ll never change or recover. It just means he’s human.
  • When I was at a point where enough was enough, I took a break. I took myself and my son out of the situation for a little bit to think things over and give my husband a chance to think things over as well. There are many steps you can take before making the decision to divorce. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time.
  • I see my husband as suffering from the disease of addiction. He is suffering from mental demons - depression, anxiety, childhood emotional neglect. I told myself I wouldn’t leave him because he was suffering. That as long as he was fighting for his own health, I would be there to support him.

It sounds like you really love your husband. No one can tell you if divorce is right for you except you. Trust your gut. :pray::sparkles: