Making a Bad Marriage Last

Yesterday I introduced you to my current guest, personal coach Debbi Dickinson. She shared how she turned to alcohol when her husband’s behavior changed shortly after their wedding and their marriage became a facade. Debbi and her husband were married for thirteen years – that’s a long time to be going through the motions but people try all sorts to make a marriage last. Here’s Debbi:

When I talk about my story, people are like, “Why did you tolerate it for so long?”

It's hard to grow a relationship if all you do is partyFor a good portion of our marriage, we never lived in the same house. Even through all my drinking, my career excelled, because besides drinking, I just threw myself into work to avoid dealing with the issues at home.

I didn’t realize I was doing this consciously. I took jobs where I traveled a hundred percent of the time. He was living basically in another state part of the time because it was just too much to commute back and forth, so we’d only see each other on the weekends.

The majority of our marriage, we only saw each other on the weekends, so it was kind of like this eternal dating-like scenario. Well, it was Party Town, USA. We’d have people over, go out, continue that whole dating, party scene, which was how we met, so we never had the time to actually develop a healthy relationship on a lot of different levels.

We were living in Southern California, and we were tired of the “rat race,” we called it. We decided we were ready for a change. We were looking at Southern California going “the problem is Southern California,” so we decided to do this geographical move, thinking “maybe this will help our relationship.”

We ended up moving to Chicago.  We moved here in September, it was the change of the season so it was like a breath of fresh air into our marriage.

Then the novelty of being in a new place wore off, and this was the first time in our lives we had lived under the same roof for any length of time. I took a job where I was not traveling, and he had a job with minimal travel, so we were in contact with each other a lot more. It was probably ten years into our marriage and by then I was definitely an alcoholic. I was drinking daily, just suppressing my emotions.

I was never the angry alcoholic. I was the “quiet drunk.”

He was also drinking but I can’t say whether or not he’s an alcoholic, that’s a decision for him to make.

He didn’t grow up in a healthy, nurturing environment like I did. His parents were alcoholics and they didn’t have a healthy relationship. He just treated me the way he learned how husband and wife interacted, so it wasn’t a match.

That’s how he dealt with it, and I didn’t deal with the issues in a healthy way either.

It was what had happened before, except in the Chicagoland area,

I tried that moving idea too and it didn’t work for me either. Some five years before my husband and I separated, I was offered an opportunity here in Colorado. My husband wasn’t in favor of moving and we did go to couples counselling at the time to resolve the disagreement. Since we moved to Colorado clearly, we did come to a resolution. However, what is very obvious to me now is that the relocation question wasn’t the real problem. The real problem was much deeper, much more significant. Neither of us had the courage or perhaps the awareness to confront it at that time and the therapist wasn’t able to take us there.

Did you and your spouse relocate, change jobs, have a child hoping it would help your marriage? Bring you closer?

Debbi Dickinson is a personal coach who writes at Stepping Into Joy inspiring professional women the importance of self-care and balance. Debbi also creates audio and video programs and hosts telesummits focused on topics professional women deal with today. 

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