I think that the stereotype roles that men and women are brought up with contribute in part to the dynamic between a couple where one has an alcohol problem. I can only speak for myself here and my perspectives of living with an alcoholic woman. To start with I think women have a pretty rough deal now-a-days. On one hand they have the role of nurturer as a mother, second they have the equality role. That doesn’t sound right but bear with me, this isn’t intended as a poster campaign for kitchen sink chains.
I feel a lie has been perpetuated in the work place, somehow someone somewhere came up with the spin that women are equal dibs employees with men. Not quite true if you look at the disparity between jobs and pay (my wife only has her current job because her employer – wouldn’t pay the extra £180 that the bloke was asking for). So women are undervalued in the workplace, at the same time a working mother gets dissed for working and not nurturing. Employers don’t generally let their employees have their cake and eat it.
From an early age women are encouraged to be the unspoken prop for the family, to do and not complain, to be passive and not assert you know feminine.
Men on the other hand are expected to be aggressive, assertive and well masculine.
Except, those stereotypes we grew up with are not a good model now. So, here I am, big, hairy, brutish, lump of a man, outspoken and confrontational. No where in my upbringing or secondary, tertiary or quaternary socialisation did any one suggest that I would be in the role of a nurturer a stay at home dad.
The same applies to my wife, she beats herself up about not being there for the children, the school beats her up with snotty comments on the few occasions that she picks up from school.
So here we are cast in gender roles but not in the gender roles, this I think accounts for the problems we have with alcohol, for me I’ve never unlearned an unconfrontational manner, my wife is a passive aggressive appeaser. If the tables were turned and I was the alcoholic, we would probably have a lot less problems and our children wouldn’t be on a child protection plan. Given our current natures, it would be better for me to be the alky as my wife would put up and shut up. I on the other hand cannot tolerate even the smallest alcoholic behaviour and of course, my language ends up being abusive, confrontational and aggressive when dealing with issues and problems.
I’m starting a parenting class soon and I’m now on a DVIP with therapist/counsellor/supervisor who I feel will very beneficial to me. It would be good if my wife could find the same for her alcohol addition but she’s not at the point where she feels change will benefit her.
Having said all, this I know there are many flaws in my statements which don’t stand up to scrutiny, but I think I might be on a road to something better.