Marriage can feel like a roller coaster, full of unforeseen ups and downs. But a marriage that becomes divided by sobriety levels up the ride, adding sharp turns, twists and loops that will make any head spin.
From the moment my husband and I met in 2007 — at a bar on a Monday night — alcohol has played a significant role between us. We bonded and drank our way through every phase: courting, engagement and newlywed. We drank through good times and bad, for good reasons and not.
When we entered the new-parent phase, there was a shift. My husband, whose sole goal in life was to be a dad, started to slow down his drinking. I boldly amped it up, increasing with each of the three children we brought into the world.
When my heavy weekend drinking trickled into weekdays, my husband expressed concern. When I drank excessively while he was on missions, he gave me ultimatums to not drink.
When my few solo travels resulted in reckless drinking, we both agreed I should stop altogether. Twice I attempted to break up with alcohol for my kids and marriage — once for 100 days, the other for eight months.
Yet, I knew I'd drink again because that's what my husband and I did. We drank. A lot. Together.
By the beginning of 2017, my drinking was at an all-time high, and I was at an all-time low. My soul felt beyond broken. I was living life on alcohol's terms rather than my own.
I was in single-mom-mode with our kids and on day four of an uncontrollable bender. I heard a very distant voice. It was my own, deep inside, and it said, enough. In that moment I knew I was ready to get sober — not for my kids, not for my marriage, but for me.
Fast forward to today, more than three years later, and I'm still gratefully sober.
The years have gifted me heaps of self-growth, such as how to honor my feelings, to stay present and to live authentically. I've found my voice and my calling in a new career. I've also done a complete 180 on how I perceive alcohol and the alcohol industry.
When people ask about the hardest part of recovery my answer has been and remains my marriage.
At first, it was not only the elephant in the room, but an elephant between us. To remove the elephant, we've attempted a dry house, which resulted in resentment from both parties.
We've tried a normal routine of my husband drinking as he pleases, which has also resulted in resentment and rejection from both parties.
We've talked. We've fought. We've cried, and we've loved each other so hard through it all.
(Military Families Magazine)
So how then do you live in a soberly divided marriage?
For us, there is no black-and-white answer, but I can attest to what we've learned over the years.
Honest communication is a must.
If I'm triggered or having an off day, it's best to own it and say it aloud. Otherwise, my husband may have no understanding as to my bitterness or emotional distance. Plus, he's able to better support me in the future, and vice versa if he struggles on his side of the journey.
Establish and honor boundaries.
Being around my husband when he drinks usually doesn't bother me because, oddly enough, I like his tipsy, talkative lighter side. But my boundary is set at two nights in a row of his drinking. Beyond that and he knows he'll find me elsewhere, doing my own thing. He honors my choice and space, but more times than not, he'll not risk losing my company for a drink.
Respect the differences.
He's a science guy. I'm a believer in Jesus. In all our time, we've respected our differences in faith. Similar respect is now applied to our opposing relationships with alcohol. We agree to disagree, and we do so respectfully.
Time and patience do wonders.
Despite the infinite ups and downs outside that come with being soberly divided, it's clear with every passing sober day, we grow stronger in our marriage. We also grow stronger as individuals. But we must practice patience when the sober journey feels tough.
Practice empathy daily.
Lastly, without empathy, we may have fallen apart years ago. With empathy, we see through each other's eyes more clearly. We're better equipped to practice the "Golden Rule." We're forever reminded that at the end of the day, we're two imperfect people doing our best to love each other through the sober journey's good, bad and in-betweens.
Visit https://www.instagram.com/teetotallyfit/ to follow Alison Evans' journey with sobriety and fitness.