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Ask the Rock Doc 
By Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT, psychologist 

* Details contained in the original correspondence, or inquiry have been omitted or otherwise altered to protect the confidentiality of the inquiring party and to make key spiritual/psychological points.  

Dear Rock Doc: 
My husband’s New Year’s Resolution is to give up drinking.  I want to help him accomplish this, but I fear that in many ways, I may actually be enabling him in his addiction to alcohol.

I am 33 and my husband is 25.  When I met him, he was the lead guitarist in a Nine Inch Nails cover band called Nine Inch Snails.   I was 30 and he was 22.

 I was hired as the road manager for the Snails.  His alcohol problem was clearly ruining his chances to remain with the band, and, at the time, the band had quite a great deal of promise, and lots of talent to boot.

To make a long story short, we soon we became emotionally involved over my interest in helping him get sober.  All I did was make vague hints that he give up drinking, or made jokes about his excessive drinking behavior.  He was throw a fit every time I brought up the issue, so I would simply back off.  But I would worry myself sick, and constantly nag him about it with subtle hints.  

He was cut from the band, but I ended up getting pregnant and then we ended up getting married.  His drinking just got worse, and he ended up neglecting me and our new baby boy for booze.  

Then, just this Christmas, after attending a Christmas program at a nearby church, we both received Christ as our Lord and Savior, and we’re both determined to make some big changes.  His alcohol has left me broken hearted, and my subsequent rejection of him as a drunken, slob, has left him broken-hearted as well.  What can we do to put the marriage back together and to get him on the road to recovery?  He’s already in an AA-type program at our church known as Dads on the Wagon, and I’m in a group for co-dependent wives/mothers.  

Co-dependent for Christ 

Dear “Co-dependent for Christ”:  
The nickname that you seem to have adopted for yourself almost makes it sound like you’re proud of being a co-dependent, especially a “co-dependent for Christ.”  

In fact, rather than feeling proud, most co-dependent individuals feel a deep sense of shame, and feel they are responsible for the suffering of those around them.  

If I were you, I would lose the “co-dependent” label because I’m afraid you may have allowed it to define yourself for too long.  In Christ, we have all become brand new creatures, and you and your husband each have a new title: Child of God.  Now that’s something you can be proud of, not because of anything either of you have done, but because of who you are in Christ.  You are redeemed.  

That doesn’t mean the alcoholism, or the co-dependency (for lack of a better term) will disappear.  That doesn’t mean that the heartache that alcohol has caused for each of you and for your child will simply disappear overnight.  

In fact, you and your husband may feel like the person I depicted in this song for months, if not years, to an extent: 

Shattered Valentine 
Dr BLT 
Words and music by Dr BLT copyright 2008 
http://www.drblt.net/music/ShatValDemo2.mp3 

Now that you’ve each committed your lives to Christ, and to a life of sobriety, your chances of incrementally moving towards renewed lives, and towards the abundant life that Christ came to bring, have greatly improved.  

I would recommend family therapy in addition to the programs you and your husband are presently enrolled in.  I would recommend that your therapist administer the Spouse Sobriety Influence Inventory and the Spouse Enabling Inventory (SEI) to you, to assess the relationship you have with your husband, and with his drinking.  Your husband’s relationship with you and with drinking will need to change dramatically, as well as the relationship you had with your husband, and the relationship you had with his drinking.  Yes, you did, and continue to have a relationship with his drinking.  It was characterized by avoidance and equivocation.  Furthermore, it was characterized by excessive worry, based on not recognizing that it was your husband that was ultimately responsible for his own behavior, and that it was God who was ultimately in control of your destiny, his destiny, the destiny of your whole family, and the direction of your spiritual journey together.

Now, you will need to change that relationship to one marked by supportive confrontation accompanied by an appropriate level of emotional involvement.  You’ll need to do as the sobriety prayer suggests: distinguish between those things which you do and do not have control over.  Give the things you don’t have control over to God.  

With the help of Jesus, you must learn to “hold on loosely” as the old song by 38-Special suggested.  
As for your husband, I would suggest that he use music as a vehicle to express himself, his struggles, and his victories on the road to recovery.  I would suggest starting a band made up of recovery alcoholics who have also accepted Christ and are committed to serving him through their music.  

With a little professional help in the form of family, couples, group and individual therapy; surrounding yourselves with supportive friends and family members; lots of music, and plenty of prayer, I believe there is hope for a strong recovery and for an enduring reconciliation between you and your husband.  Your child may need to receive treatment as well, as an individual.  

Let me know how it goes, and keep in mind this verse: “I can do all things, through Christ, who strengthens me.”  
If you’re a musician in distress, or a friend or family member of one, contact Dr BLT at drblt@drblt.net 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
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