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I Left My husband, Now He's Sober 21 days. When Do I Say Its Ok to Come Home?

by Stephanie
(New York)

My husband is an alcoholic and was/is for at least 5 years. He has been sober for only 21 days and wants to come home. I am kind of tired of hearing the "Woe is Me" speeches, however, he does sound like the man I first fell in love with, the man before the alcoholic - some days even better.

I love him so much and it was after I told him to go that he came to the conclusion that he needed to get sober. He said he was doing it for me and the kids (we have 2).

We keep in close contact, I support him when he's having a hard day, he has gone to a few AA meetings, he has apologized to me and assured me that the alcoholic is not here anymore.

He has apologized to our daughter who has shown him she is wiser than her years. Our son cries because he wants daddy back home. My husband and I have talked at length, non-stop it seems sometimes.

I have told him at day 13 that, 13 days doesn't erase 5 years of pain and so forth. He says he understands that and keeps pushing that he's different.

At day 17 I started asking questions that were important to me, I asked "why he was sober?" he said he didn't want me to feel bad, but he originally did it for me and the kids, but now he does it for him that the most important person he's doing it for is him. I felt a weight lifted and happy to hear that. He likes being sober, he likes himself again.

He says all the right things but I can't figure out why I feel so unresolved, confused, all sorts of emotions. Is it too early to say "come home"? I can't seem to accept that the person I married or better is here before me.

I feel like I am waiting for an "AH-HA" moment to tell me its going to be alright. I know I can't live the way we were with the alcoholism, nor can my kids. But I want so badly to have my husband back. When do I know its time? Answer

It's a difficult question to answer Stephanie because there is no perfect or right time ... and a lot of it comes down to trusting what your instincts tell you.

21 days sober isn't long at all - and while your husband may be saying the right things - words are ultimately meaningless and its his actions that really count.

If your husband is saying after 21 days that the 'alcoholic isn't here anymore' I would be a bit worried because 5 years of alcoholism doesn't just vanish within the space of a few weeks.

What you need to determine is what his plan of recovery entails and what he plans on doing to remain sober? A couple of AA meetings here and there don't sound like he's that committed to working at his recovery, and that also worries me.

Overcoming the self-destructive emotional, mental and behavioral tendencies that led to his alcoholism in the first place takes work ... and a few weeks in rehab doesn't simply resolve them.

So if you're going to let your husband move back home, you need to put clear boundaries in place and make it clear what you expect of him, including him working some form of recovery program to address those issues that led him down the path of seeking refuge in alcohol in the first place.

Whether now is the right time for him to come home, only you can answer, but make sure you've thought it through carefully and if you feel you're ready for that then you need to ensure the boundaries are clear, as well as the consequences for crossing them.

P.S. Try get yourself to a few Al-Anon meetings. Finding how how others spouses in similar situations are handling things will be invaluable.

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