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My Husband is More Angry When He Drinks

Man pouring a drink child under table

Allies in Recovery member Hope has posted a new comment about the situation with her husband:​

"Your comments were prescient: he has had stretches of sobriety and then tries to have a drink or two and is quickly binging again. I took a screen shot on my phone of your suggested responses and they have been helpful.

There is nothing I can say in regards to him drinking that doesn't make him angry — when he began obviously drinking again, I asked him how he felt about it and said that his choosing to drink had an impact on whether I could make plans with him. He said he didn't have any feelings about drinking, didn't get mad immediately, just came home drunk hours later and was very angry and said that I was making him walk on a knife's edge, and paraphrased my comments as saying that I was saying he was worthless if he drank, or something similar.

He is drunk again today and I have not said anything I am keeping myself busy and have plans to leave the house tonight. I have felt like my chest was about to explode at what it feels like to be with him when he is angry.

I think this is probably pretty typical behavior for an alcoholic and I am not taking it personally. But this is no way to live."

No, it is not a way to live. Practicing CRAFT is meant to be transformational. The changes you are supporting will alter your husband’s behavior, at the very least will alter his thinking about his behavior. CRAFT suggests changes for you that influence your husband. If this doesn’t work entirely, or mostly, or at all, you at least know that you have done what you can, you have followed as best as you can the actions determined by empirical study to be the most effective. You can make decisions about your marriage and life knowing that you have tried everything you can.

From this comment and the last one you sent in, I can tell you are doing a good job with your husband. You are seeing the cycle (controlled use: trying not to drink with occasional use) and staying clear of him when he is drinking. You are keeping yourself busy and making plans to absent yourself, leaving him on his own when he is under the influence.

The added problem is your husband’s anger. It is its own thing, separate from alcoholism but ignited by the alcohol. The anger makes this so much harder. He directs it at you, blames you for how badly he feels about his drinking. You are closest to him and therefore the most likely victim of his finger pointing. CRAFT is working: you are standing aside when he drinks and this makes him feel worse. Therefore, he sees you as the problem. Abstaining from alcohol will help the anger a lot, but will probably not stop its root cause. He will need therapy or you will both need couples therapy to start to address the anger.

I wonder how things are when he is succeeding at not using? Are you able to get along? Is it any better? Ideally, you will wait for a quiet, good moment, when he says something like:

I love our family (or you) or I wish it could always be this way, or sometimes I just don’t know what gets into me or what’s wrong with me…

In this moment, you come out with your practiced script. You stop what you’re doing, send the children away to play in their room, and launch into it (something like):

I love us too. I love our family. I love it that you are trying to cut back on your drinking. Thank you for this.

(If this doesn’t get you an angry response, you continue….If he gets angry, say something like: I’m sorry, I will stop talking about this.)

You have given me hope about our future. You have a problem with alcohol. It happens to people. You are a good person who has a problem with alcohol.

I have been changing the way I respond to your drinking, trying not to upset you. Yet, I am so upset internally when you drink. I hate the alcohol. When you drink, it’s like the darkness of our life returns, I feel the ground under me move. Our family is not well.

Would you consider doing something more to get a handle on the drinking?

I have a list of options I’ve worked up. Will you look at it with me and try one?

You mean the world to me AND I am losing hope for us. Please will you try adding in some help?

To say this to him is a signal that you are not willing to continue indefinitely with things as they are. This means you have arrived at a decision to leave if needed. Leaving the marriage, the house if needed, is a terribly difficult decision. Where you are in this decision process, and how much longer you are willing to maintain the effort of CRAFT, both need thought.

In Learning Module 8, we recreate a story of a wife who had a conversation with her husband about the drinking. It’s a true story. The story is of a planned conversation as opposed to a more spontaneous moment like I just described. It is the other way to arrive at the talk of treatment. (see Module 8 eBook, page 12, or Module 8 Video: the Planned Conversation)

There is a lot here to think about. For how much longer can you keep up what you are doing? It does sound like it is having some effect. The conversation about treatment, during a peaceful moment, may not work. If he takes it badly you back away and apologize for bringing it up. Say you will talk about it again at some later point. There will be more moments where it feels right to try talking about treatment again.

So, more wild applause for you. We are here and we are recognizing the work you are doing.



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"...)