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Is He Really Ready To Come Home?

Redwoods Mandala

AB123 is encouraged by her Loved One’s sobriety, but not sure he’s ready to come back home. With children, the decision is so complex, and she is afraid it’s still too soon…

I’m struggling a bit… it’s been almost 6 mo and my husband has not had a drink which is great, but he is as closed off and isolated as ever. We can spend decent superficial time together… but we can’t and don’t talk about anything other than how great the kids are.

On the one hand I understand this is a long road and he’s stayed sober and I should let him come back home but on the other he did admit yesterday that has been struggling and not doing his recovery work and that’s been a bit risky… such that I feel I should trust my instincts that it’s too soon…

If it were just me and him I wouldn’t be worried at all about timeframe but I have these three kids and already 6 months without dad at home.. I look at them and realize their life story will be when I was in 10-7-4th grade my dad didn’t live with us that year.. that’s not the life I wanted for them!


Your husband is living outside the family as he gains a foothold in recovery from alcohol. It’s been 6 months, and while he’s still sober, he seems to be retreating emotionally. He recently acknowledged to you that he is doing fewer recovery activities now.

Your children are living without their dad under the roof. I’m sorry for them and you.… It’s hard enough raising a family without a serious condition like addiction tossing everyone around. Your children are getting an education about illness in the family and about addiction. So be it.

What does your husband say to family therapy? Perhaps at first you can try with just the two of you. After some time with this, perhaps then you can plan to include the children in the sessions? Is there a therapist that can see the kids individually? I’m sure they share information with each other and keep some things from you about what’s going on for them. It would be important to have this kind of support to allow everyone to process what is going on in their own ways.

6 months isn’t long on some scales; it is super wonderful on the scale of recovery. Make it special when he comes over. Hunt for a little more compassion to help address what all of you are struggling with. Take the time to acknowledge the success of his ongoing sobriety. Here is a round of applause to acknowledge the accomplishment. This is the sound of success!

Your family is bruised but not broken. You can absolutely find your way to a new way of being a healthy family, together. Everyone plays their own role in the family, so everyone will need to work a little: family therapy, therapy for the children… For your husband’s part, he’ll need to add someone who is more carefully monitoring his efforts. This should be someone he’d check in with more than once a week, like a therapist or a recovery coach. Is there a center near you where you can ask about recovery coaches?  A men’s group could feel hard for him but would be very useful as well.

You have all come a long way. Take some time to re-watch Learning Module 4 on communication and Learning Module 8 on treatment. It’s time for a little intervention that will encourage your husband not to give up. Let him know what the next steps are that you need him to take, to be able to come back. To find support so that he can work towards the openness that you all need for your family to thrive.

You have been holding things together for your family single-handedly for so long. He’s still got work to do. But you all have made it this far… It’s time to find the momentum needed to help move things along. You can help your whole family move into a new chapter now.

Feeling like “I didn’t want this for my children” are so hard. This is a part of their life story… but there is so much in their story that is yet unwritten. Even with things so disrupted for your children in this past year, there is value in what they may be learning from you along the way. Seeing how you navigate this, finding a path forward for your family with strength and compassion, there are big lessons they can take away from this situation. 

Having their father gone for that year may seem like a loss on one hand. But as he continues to gain footing with his sobriety, and finds a way to navigate the family relationships without using, this major shift can lead to a positive outcome down the road.

The struggles with feeling it’s still too soon are totally valid. Whenever he does come back home, it could go either way. There are no guarantees, and that is part of the enormous challenge you face as you consider what needs to happen next. Navigating this path, you’ll need to honor and heed your own reservations while holding space for the brighter days ahead. Giving space for your own feelings – whatever they may be – can help clear the road for that future, and keep things moving along at a sustainable pace for everyone.

But whatever the feelings – be they hope, fear, resentment, worry – it can be so helpful to remind yourself that they are temporary. Be patient and compassionate with yourself during this process. As you acknowledge the hard feelings and give them some time and space, you can learn from them as well. Even the hard feelings can end up being illuminating as you digest them. As you allow this process to unfold, allowing these things to move through you, you are ultimately freeing up space that can help you be more open when you do sit down to talk with your husband about his returning home.

Right now, it feels like he isn’t really ready yet. But it is possible to start things moving in that direction. You will need patience, clarity and compassion as you lay out the plan you’re envisioning to regain balance as a family. Let him know the good faith efforts he needs to demonstrate. Your centered, compassionate presence will be your ally in getting that message across.

Thank you for writing in. Please don’t give up. Stay active on this site and let us know how things are going. We are all here for you; you have the support of everyone in this community. Keep taking care of yourself, and continue to let us know what you need.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. My husband is 8 months sober from 10 years of addiction. I am frustrated, scared and lonely because he gets to be sober “one day at a time” and gets an A+ from his therapist and addiction psychiatrist for maintaining sobriety. Of course that’s great. But despite being in couples counseling, we are making no progress. It’s like his addiction recovery therapeutic supports are giving him a big pat on the back (again I’m happy he’s sober!) which makes him feel entitled to a big A+ from me too.

    I am only now, in the past 8 weeks, starting to unwind from 10 years of being wound up so tight I was numb, and blind. I developed co-dependent behaviors of losing any sense of what I wanted, other than to do what needed to be done to provide for me and my children. I was in massive denial of the signals of alcohol addiction and I am just now grappling with asking myself how could I have lived with this so long? What does this say about me? What have I done to the children?

    The struggle I have in this phase of my recovery is this – I am realizing that I am a basket case with many unexplored and unresolved issues. I am realizing this is the fall out of living with, and living around, an addict. I really just wish he would acknowledge the destruction his addiction has caused to me and the family, but he is firm in believing he is an A+ recovery patient. It’s traumatizing all over again, because now that my eyes are open, I see the emotional turmoil I never knew I had.

    I desperately want a happy healthy family, but I don’t yet know how to recover from the hurt, so I can be happy and healthy.

    Thanks for guidance on how the spouse can recover.

    1. Your husband is sober yet you’re feeling frustrated, scared, and lonely. You are rethinking your part in this 10-year marriage and how you could have missed and lived with active alcohol addiction for so long.

      So, yes, one day at a time for you too. Your husband is seeing a therapist and going to AA. Trust me when I say that he will come to realize, if he doesn’t already, the destruction caused by the alcohol in your family. Both therapy and AA will ask him to look deep at his part and to make amends to you and the children. In AA, this comes with step 9, a step he may not yet have reached.

      Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response to AB123 here:

  2. I want to forgive and work on rebuilding a relationship with my husband of 18 years – father of our 3 kids – but today is a set back. He has been sober living out of the house for 6 months. Today in couples counseling he said that 50% of the reason why he became an alcoholic is because of me. What? I have just come through denial, rage, bargaining and anger based on the simple teaching that “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it.” I have learned that I need to take care of myself and understand my boundaries. I think this is a boundary and I would like feedback.
    My loved one feels he is a victim. He views his situation as because of others (specifically, me). This is not consistent with what I have come to learn about recovery principles. Doesn’t the recovering addict need to take accountability and ownership?
    My loved one refuses to go to AA (although he is in therapy and practices meditation) but I really wish he would, not even to maintain sobriety but to work on recovery. I want him to work the steps, to look at his life and understand how he got here. Maybe even someday to make amends. Unfortunately individual therapy doesn’t seem to give him that structure or process.
    I am so discouraged. Today at least, I feel that if he can’t take accountability for his addiction and the choices he made then I worry he will always feel wronged by me – by life – a victim.