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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to TAM. I've been reading discussions here for a couple of weeks. I’ve hit a pretty rough patch in my marriage and could use a sounding board. We’re in our late 40’s, no kids, married 15 years and lived together 5 years before that.

I’ve two questions for the TAM community about addiction and anger. (1) Is it normal for addicts to go from one addictive behavior to another? (2) I’m really angry and I’m not sure if my anger is justified or if I’m overreacting. How do you manage anger toward someone with an addiction?

I think my husband is a functioning alcoholic. He’s never said this but he’s said things like “once I start I can’t stop”. The pattern has been that he’ll drink “normally” (what seems ok and manageable to me) for a period of time, then he’ll start drinking more frequently and in greater amounts. I’ll get angry, call him out on his drinking and he’ll stop completely for a time (3 - 6 months). Then he’ll start drinking again “normally” and he’ll be “ok” for some time (12 months to a few years). Then the pattern will repeat again.

Over 2020 we were both drinking more than usual. It got to the point where he was drinking nearly daily. He switched from beer to liquor and was smoking pot (not new, but more than usual). He's also depressed and takes meds.

He stated online gambling during this time, too. He’s done this in the past, but always gets bored pretty quickly.

I noticed he started using porn more frequently. He’s always used porn occasional, I don’t have an issue with it. What was different is how he used porn. I’d hear it playing on his phone while he was working in the garage, which seemed odd to me. I never said anything because I didn’t want to shame / embarrass him. Our sex life was less than usual during 2020, added stress, drinking, my sex drive had decreased, he was having a hard time sexually. Again, it was a tough year.

What pushed me over the edge was finding a charge for a strip club. In our marriage strip clubs are not ok. My husband knows this, he’s even said he doesn’t like strip clubs. He’s never pushed back on wanting to go. Strip clubs are a boundary I asked him not to cross years ago, he agreed and I trusted him. It’s never come up.

Just as Covid restrictions started to relax he went out with a friend he sees infrequently. He came home early, said he had fun having drinks with his friend and that was that. He’d been drinking but he wasn’t sloppy drunk.

By chance, I checked our bank account the next day (looking for stimulus checks) and saw a strip club charge. I confronted him that evening and his response was they wanted to go to a different bar, the second bar was closed but the strip club was open so they went “just for another drink.” He was going to tell me but hadn’t had a chance. (He's talked to me at least 3x since coming home that evening)

I got very angry. Honestly, I’m still angry. I feel like he crossed a line. I’m not sure if I can get past this.

I’m having a hard time believing that someone who's said they don’t like strip clubs could so easily walk into an all nude strip club just for a drink. Also, if you typically don’t do something how could you not tell your partner about the new experience, unless it was something you shouldn’t do or something you're planning to keep secret? For me it would be like, “Guess what I did last night …”.

Now, I’m questioning how honest he has been with me. He’s had plenty of opportunity to go to strip clubs, he’s mentioned friends in his bowling league who go to strip clubs after games, and he’s come home late many times. I’ve never questioned him, I completely trusted him, but now, looking back, I am wondering if that was part of going out with these friends.

I don’t know how addition works. Is it normal for someone with an alcohol addiction to move from thing to thing? Is the drinking, +gambling, + porn, + strip club behavior because of his addiction? I do not believe that he was so drunk that evening that he didn't know what he was doing.

I feel like he crossed a boundary by going to a strip club. I also feel like he crossed a boundary by lying to me and breaking trust. I cannot get past this. I am angry. I’m not sure if my anger at him is justified or if I’m overreacting. How do you manage anger toward someone with an addiction? How do you set a boundary? When do you hold firm? When do you forgive?

I appreciate any insight the TAM community can offer. I'm trying to understand his behavior and I'm trying to figure out my own response.
 

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I'm no expert on addiction, but I know enough that some people are at a higher risk and it can be anything. I think some people just have addictive personalities and it would be easy to have one addiction replace another and maybe some coincide.

Seems to me like some kind of counseling is in order, individual and couples. You should be prepared to sperate yourself from this. I am no advocate of divorce, but there comes a time when it is only viable option. Letting him know that you can't live with someone that engages in these behaviors may work, but it may take a separation or divorce papers to wake him up and let him know you are serous.
 

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You are very accepting of what for many would be unacceptable behaviour. Drugs, heavy drinking, porn, gambling, and now strip clubs. I wonder if he has got so used to the fact that you put up with this stuff with no consequences that he doesn't worry how he acts.
I don't actually see strip clubs as any worse than the others, to me they are all unacceptable behaviours.
 

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Is it normal for addicts to go from one addictive behavior to another?
Yes. That is the nature of addicts. Even the successful AA members I know have transferred their addictive behaviors to something else. They may have stopped drinking, but they NEED their coffee/cigarettes/game/hobby.

I’m really angry and I’m not sure if my anger is justified or if I’m overreacting. How do you manage anger toward someone with an addiction?
Your anger is justified. You are not overreacting.

I manage my anger toward the addicts in my life by keeping them at arms length or simply removing them from my life. Once their addiction doesn't affect me in any way I find I don't have reason to be angry.

I got very angry. Honestly, I’m still angry. I feel like he crossed a line. I’m not sure if I can get past this.
He did cross a line. Many lines. And even if you could get past it I don't think you should. Most addicts are either in a holding pattern where they tread water or they're on a downward trajectory. Either way they aren't good partners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for your response, @BigDaddyNY I appreciate it. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that counseling is in order. I've asked him to speak with a counselor, along with his medical doctor because drinking and depression are a bad mix, and I'm also going to meet with a counselor for myself.
I'm no expert on addiction, but I know enough that some people are at a higher risk and it can be anything. I think some people just have addictive personalities and it would be easy to have one addiction replace another and maybe some coincide.

Seems to me like some kind of counseling is in order, individual and couples. You should be prepared to sperate yourself from this. I am no advocate of divorce, but there comes a time when it is only viable option. Letting him know that you can't live with someone that engages in these behaviors may work, but it may take a separation or divorce papers to wake him up and let him know you are serous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I wonder if he has got so used to the fact that you put up with this stuff with no consequences that he doesn't worry how he acts.
Thanks @Diana7 for sharing. It seems like things are fine for a time, but every few years his addictive behaviors escalate to the point where we have a fight. This, however, is the worst things have been between us.
 

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Thanks for sharing your personal perspective on addictive behavior @ccpowerslave that's helpful to hear.
To be honest my body can’t take partying hard anymore. I quickly get health issues and I need my brain for my job so I can’t do weed very often.

Currently I channel my addictive energy into push ups and coffee and try not to take it out on my wife (sex).
 

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Thanks @Diana7 for sharing. It seems like things are fine for a time, but every few years his addictive behaviors escalate to the point where we have a fight. This, however, is the worst things have been between us.
I don't think you can blame all of it on addiction. Going to a strip club once isn't an addiction, it's just bad behaviour. Lying isn't an addiction, it's bad behaviour.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I don't think you can blame all of it on addiction. Going to a strip club once isn't an addiction, it's just bad behaviour. Lying isn't an addiction, it's bad behaviour.
You're correct, there was bad behavior going on. The strip club definitely threw me for a loop and his lying about it sent me over the edge. I'm so angry about this. It feels like a betrayal.

I do think lying is part of addictive behavior. I don't understand where his "control-able" choices ended and where his addictive behavior took over. I'm struggling to find balance in being angry at him, having compassion for him while he's struggling with addiction (addiction is an illness), and still hold him accountable for his choices, bad behavior, lying etc.

I truly don't understand where his decision to go to the strip club came from. Was that really the "just one more drink" behavior that he said it was? Was it him taking porn to the next level? Or, is he a shi**y, a**hole who wanted to go to a strip club no matter how I felt and he just happened to get caught this time?

It almost feels like he became a different person.

This is why I posted in this forum. I am hoping that people who understand addiction better than I do weigh in (I'm looking into al-anon as well). I don't want to excuse bad behavior and I don't want to punish an illness.

This is not easy. It hurts a lot. We've been together just over two decades. I'm really struggling to understand this.
 

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I do think lying is part of addictive behavior. I don't understand where his "control-able" choices ended and where his addictive behavior took over.
Addicts lie to cover their addiction and it becomes easier over time. Why tell the truth and accept consequences when you can lie and get away with little to no consequence for your behavior? Sure, you might be caught, but you won't be caught every time or even most times.

I truly don't understand where his decision to go to the strip club came from. Was that really the "just one more drink" behavior that he said it was?
It wasn't. "Just one more drink" can happen at any number of bars, liquor stores, friends houses, and so on. He deliberately went to the boobie bar for that drink.

Or, is he a shi**y, a**hole who wanted to go to a strip club no matter how I felt and he just happened to get caught this time?
Pretty much this.

The thing is this in the nature of a relationship with an addict. Addicts are inherently selfish. They lie. They cheat. They steal. They leave devastation in their wake. And their closest enablers are the ones who take the brunt of it all until they finally decide they've had enough and eject the addict.
 

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I’m having a hard time believing that someone who's said they don’t like strip clubs could so easily walk into an all nude strip club just for a drink. Also, if you typically don’t do something how could you not tell your partner about the new experience, unless it was something you shouldn’t do or something you're planning to keep secret? For me it would be like, “Guess what I did last night …”.
I say it all the time here. Most men (not all) will promise a woman they won't watch porn and will tell her how he hates strip clubs and nasty strippers and blah blah blah and the truth is, they're telling you what you want to hear.

If I had a dime for every guy who swore to his new wife or girlfriend that he doesn't watch porn and/or doesn't like it and promised her he'd never look at it - then was discovered to be enjoying it all along - I'd be a very, very, VERY rich woman.

Going to a strip bar does NOT make him an "addict." Drinking did NOT make him go to a strip bar. His desire to see naked women (and God knows what else they serve up) is what drove him to the nudie bar. I'm not sure what it is with women who jump to the same nonsense 'conclusion' that their husband is an "addict" whenever he does something they don't like or acts in a way she can't control. He's not an addict OP, he went to the strip bar because he WANTED to and because he ENJOYED doing it.

He'll never tell you that, though. He'll just tell you his buddy wanted to go and he got 'dragged along.'

NONE of us in the group are qualified to make any kind of diagnosis with respect to your husband. That's up to him and a medical professional. And yes, people DO have 'addictive personalities' but again, he's never been diagnosed with any kind of addiction so anything we say is pure speculation. And honestly, your armchair "diagnosis" of his behavior doesn't count, either.

Stop trying to blame his unacceptable behavior on 'addiction.' That's as bad as betrayed wives blaming their cheating husband's bad behavior on "the fog."

He's accountable for his choices so let him own them.
 

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Yes it sounds addictive.

I would suggest not asking him to seek help, that’s pointless. If he wanted to he’d go himself. So yeah, he might go because you ask him, but he’ll go through the motions. So forget that, and seek other ways to detach from his addictions.

You’re fighting a losing battle really. Addicts rarely seek help. It leads nowhere if family members or partners make them go. It also usually leads nowhere if it’s court ordered too.

But I suppose he’s not really at the point where he’s lost his job or committed a crime, so you’ve got some stress on your hands, sorry to hear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So as someone who has done his fair share of drinking over the years including with people who would go to strip clubs, I just didn’t. I didn’t want to because I was married and thought it was inappropriate so I didn’t.
Thanks @ccpowerslave I really value you sharing your personal experience. It's helpful. Thank you for being so thoughtful.

To the best of my knowledge, prior to this, my husband also chose not to go drinking with friends at strip clubs. Again, he said that wasn't something he liked or supported, plus he's pretty cheap. For the most part he'd drink at our house, friends houses, concerts and once in a while at a bar. This behavior, going to a strip club, is outside of the norm for him. Over a 20 year period of time we've ben together this is a new situation. Again, based on what I know, so it's possible he's been hiding things.

Can I ask you, as someone who's done their fair share of drinking, when you felt the need to drink would you find yourself making decisions that you normally would not make? Did you find yourself lying and/or keeping secrets around your behavior? When sober did you "come clean" and talk about what you did "the night before" when drinking, or did you chose to keep it hidden?

If this to too personal please for give me for prying. I'm just struggling to understand his behavior.
 

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Can I ask you, as someone who's done their fair share of drinking, when you felt the need to drink would you find yourself making decisions that you normally would not make? Did you find yourself lying and/or keeping secrets around your behavior? When sober did you "come clean" and talk about what you did "the night before" when drinking, or did you chose to keep it hidden?
No. I was always very public about it and everyone knew it. Ex. people I haven’t seen in a long time will say stuff like, “You guys used to party a lot.” I never lied about it because I wasn’t ashamed about it.

I never did anything bad the night before where I felt like I was way out of line but I know other people we worked with were like, “Gosh these guys are a bunch of drunk unprofessional assholes.”

In retrospect relative to the party “bro” culture in Silicon Valley I would say I was personally on the tamer side of things based on what I intentionally avoided (cocaine, sex stuff, etc...). Much better to be away from all of it now though including the drinking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
I appreciate all of the responses. Thank you all so much, it's helpful to hear other's perspectives. I do want to offer a bit more context and clarify my ask.

My husband lives with depression and he takes medication. He has worked with his medical doctor and with various therapists over the 20 years we've been together on his depression and his drinking. I believe my husband knows he's an alcoholic but does not want to acknowledge it. He's had years-long periods where he drinks "normally" and because of this I think he believes he can control his drinking.

This past year, 2020, was very difficult for many of us. Both my husband and I were drinking more than normal. I have to own drinking with him as enabling him. My husband is a front line worker, which was additionally stressful. He experienced a pretty significant depressive episode in late 2020. I believe drinking is one way he was self medicating.

When my husband went out with his friend it was just as businesses had been given approval to open at a reduced capacity and many places still were not open. His friend was visiting from out of town and staying in a hotel in the "tourist" area of town, not an area where my husband spends time or is familiar with. I share this because when he said the bar they wanted to go to was closed that was a true statement (I checked, its actually gone out of business) and, literally, next to the closed bar is the strip club.

I don't want to make excuses for his decision to go to the strip club. But, I do see how it was an easy option.

I don't want to make excuses for his drinking. But, I do understand drinking was a way to cope during this time.

My original questions are, and remain:
1) Is it normal for addicts to go from one addictive behavior to another?
I know my husband is an alcoholic, that's not a point of confusion or debate. Would an addict start to engage in other addictive behaviors? Is it "normal" addictive behavior to keep pushing boundaries? Does engaging in one addictive activity drive you to another addictive behavior?

(2) How do you manage anger toward someone with an addiction?
I’m really angry. This is not a comfortable feeling for me and I'm struggling to feel ok being this angry. I’m not sure if my anger is justified. I’m not sure if I'm overreacting. I am most angry about his lying to me by not telling me he went to a strip club, which was a decision he made when sober (the next day).

Thanks again everyone. Just being able to share this with others is really helpful to me. It's been hard processing this on my own. I am grateful for all of the responses - the personal responses, the well though out responses, the angry responses, the quick responses, even the responses I do not agree with - I read, "hear" and appreciate all of your feedback.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
No. I was always very public about it and everyone knew it. Ex. people I haven’t seen in a long time will say stuff like, “You guys used to party a lot.” I never lied about it because I wasn’t ashamed about it.

I never did anything bad the night before where I felt like I was way out of line but I know other people we worked with were like, “Gosh these guys are a bunch of drunk unprofessional assholes.”

In retrospect relative to the party “bro” culture in Silicon Valley I would say I was personally on the tamer side of things based on what I intentionally avoided (cocaine, sex stuff, etc...). Much better to be away from all of it now though including the drinking.
Thanks @ccpowerslave for sharing. I think my husband is still feeling a lot of shame. I don't believe he wants to be honest with himself, and certainly not with others. Drinking is how he's bonded with friends and managed his depression since his teen years.

Its good to hear your happy being away from that scene. Again, thanks, your insights are appreciated.
 
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