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Reconciliation :
Alcohol and Infidelity

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 Runninghelps (original poster new member #79842) posted at 1:36 AM on Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Does anyone have a WS that struggled with alcohol and used their alcoholism coupled with an underlying depression as part of the reason for their affair? Once alcohol abuse and depression got under control, they've reflected that it played a central role in starting their affair. Wonder if this is just an excuse or if this could legitimately be a major factor?

posts: 7   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2022
id 8731985
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number4 ( member #62204) posted at 1:58 AM on Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

My H definitely had a problem with binge drinking and I truly believe it was what lowered his inhibitions for starting the first affair. He says alcohol was involved when they were together.

He quit drinking a couple of years before the 2nd-4th affairs. He had quit before a couple of times, but it only lasted a year or so. When he quit a few years ago for the last time, he never looked back. Just made up his mind to quit, and he did. It's held for 6-7 years and he has never expressed a desire or need to drink since. He says that's how his mind works when it comes to cheating. He made up his mind he wasn't going to ever do it again, and has never been tempted since his last one. I do believe affairs and addictions go hand in hand, and are often a symptom of depression. Our couple's therapist had been trying to convince him for years that she thought he was depressed, but he never believed it. I think having affairs with women who wanted him lifted his depression in the moment.

I say this, but on the other hand, I've suffered from depression in my life, very serious, non-functional depression which required hospitalization, and I never was tempted to have an affair. So I think different people have different tendencies to self-medicate their depression. When they get the depression under control, some of those behaviors become more clear to understanding them.

I know others will disagree, but I do believe for some people, it can play a part. When it all boils down, people cheat because it makes them feel better about themselves, even if only in the moment of flirting, thinking about the AP, and having sex. A vicious cycle emerges when, they're not with the AP, they feel like shit, and so they have to cheat again to make them feel better about themselves. When they start to understand that, feeling like shit actually started before the affair, then they can address it, and hopefully find healthy choices to address the depression.

Then again, there are a lot of functionally depressed people out there, who will just continue affairs because they don't want to look at why (usually FOO issues) they've been depressed for so long. I mean, why would you when having sex with someone else provides instant gratification, and not as much work as deep self-reflection?

Me: BW
Him: WH
Married - 30+ years
Two adult daughters
1st affair: 2005-2007
2nd-4th affairs: 2016-2017
Many assessments/polygraph: no sex addiction
Status: R

posts: 975   ·   registered: Jan. 10th, 2018   ·   location: Southern California
id 8731987
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morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 3:36 AM on Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Alcoholism is an excuse, just as "I was depressed/unsatisfied/in a mid-life crisis/in a fog, etc." is an excuse. I once had a boyfriend who turned out to be a closeted alcoholic. He had serious issues and I found out that he'd been alcohol dependent since adolescence. But he still didn't cheat on me. I left him due to his addiction that he refused to commit himself to ending, but still remember him as a gentle man who loved and respected me.

So no, I don't buy alcoholism as an excuse for cheating, for beating, for any form of abuse. People who do those things make choices to do those things. The alcoholic who also cheats is careful to cover his tracks, for instance. He knows what he's doing and that there are consequences.

posts: 173   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8731997
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Bigger ( Attaché #8354) posted at 4:12 PM on Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

I don’t think alcoholism explains why the WS needed to have an affair per se, not any more than lack of sex, need for validation or whatever other excuses a WS might give.
I do however think that addiction can support or lead to an affair. In fact – I think that sometimes a WS with substance abuse issues (like alcoholism) might have an affair as a means to focus on other issues than the alcoholism per se. Like "I will stop the affair, but don’t talk to me about the drinking".
I also think that an active alcoholic is incapable of reconciliation, or the work required to reconcile. I think active alcoholics have too many underlying issues to deal with regards to their addiction to be real reconciliation candidates at d-day or shortly after.

In fact – I have quite often here on SI suggested that a BS that wants to reconcile and is dealing with an alcoholic spouse sort-of split the process into two separate tasks:
For the first month(s) the WS focus on sobriety. With alcoholism and AA it’s accepted that the first period is simply staying off the sauce. Only it’s realized and accepted that willpower alone won’t cut it. At some point the recovering alcoholic needs to deal with all the issues (12-Step) that in turn help with sobriety.

I think that if your WS is an alcoholic then at best you can require the affair be inactive while the WS does the first period of sobriety, and only start working on the infidelity-issues properly after 30-60 days of sobriety. Anything else IMHO risks the sobriety, and the sobriety is key to the WS being capable of reconciling.

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

posts: 10601   ·   registered: Sep. 29th, 2005
id 8732063
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jb3199 ( member #27673) posted at 12:19 PM on Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

I know others will disagree, but I do believe for some people, it can play a part.

Being that I am pretty far removed from my days of discovery, it is much clearer for me to view through the lens of time.

My wife was an active alcoholic when she first committed infidelity. And in my mind, I tied all of the infidelity-related issues around her drinking. Alcohol was 100 percent the reason that she cheated.

I had another Dday a few years later. She had been sober(or should I say not drinking) for a couple of years by then, but she cheated without the use of alcohol. So alcohol was 0 percent the reason that she cheated.

But we learn that many things are not cut and dried. I fully agree with the above quote. Alcohol is not only a symptom of deeper issues, but also has the ability to affect a person's mindset. My father, who was the greatest man that I had ever known in my life, was a recovering alcoholic. He was sober 15 years before I was even born, so it was odd to me as a little kid about this whole 'AA' thing. All I knew is that I was a little kid running around in schools and churches on some weeknights when I went to one of his meetings. The one story he told me, and I never heard him tell anyone else, was his last day or two as an active alcoholic. He told me that he sat with a gun in his mouth, trigger cocked, and just enough pressure that I could just has easily gone off as not. The next day, he asked my mother to take him to a facility for help, and he payed it forward for the next 50+ years.

You would have to understand that my father was the most humble, gracious person that one could meet. It is still mind-blowing today to believe his story. SO yes, alcohol can have an incredible pull over a person. But they are still aware, and fully responsible, for their choices. And by the way, to muddy this discussion even further, is that my alcoholic father never cheated. It never even crossed his mind.

BH-50s
WW-50s
2 boys
Married almost 30yrs.

All work and no play has just cost me my wife--Gary Puckett
D-Day(s): Enough
Accepting that I can/may end this marriage 7/2/14

posts: 4013   ·   registered: Feb. 21st, 2010   ·   location: northeast
id 8732234
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Fof9303 ( member #70433) posted at 11:27 PM on Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

Hi there--- I am sorry you are here like the rest of us. I don't believe it is an excuse. Alcohol impairs your thinking and reduces your inhibitions... so maybe its not the whole reason but it played I would assume it played a part. It hurts to have all these questions and to navigate through the messiness. I hope in time your pain eases and you come to peace with everything. God Bless.

posts: 131   ·   registered: Apr. 27th, 2019
id 8732373
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Tanner ( member #72235) posted at 2:04 PM on Thursday, April 28th, 2022

My WW was a casual drinker and used it to loosen her boundaries. She had already decided to cheat, she would drink to not feel guilty. During her TT phase she would say "I’m sorry I was drunk". It was cop out, she knew what she was doing.

Dday Sept 7 2019 doing well in R
BH 55 WW 48 M 31 years, 4 kids 2 grown 2 grandkids

posts: 1380   ·   registered: Dec. 5th, 2019   ·   location: Texas DFW
id 8732455
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Want2BHappyAgain ( member #45088) posted at 2:04 PM on Thursday, April 28th, 2022

Wonder if this is just an excuse or if this could legitimately be a major factor?

I have no doubt that alcohol played a part in my H's infidelity. Porn use did too. To ME...it is NOT an excuse for what he did. But I believe it is one REASON...out of many...that helped enable him to seek women to have NSA sex with.

My H had his A while he was working alone overseas. All of his expenses were paid...except for his beer consumption. I was seeing the receipts he had expensed online...and I was concerned as to how much beer he was buying at that time. He gaslighted me...telling me it helped him deal with the loneliness of not having me there rolleyes . After Dday he confessed that the beer lowered his inhibitions and he was able to keep on going with the A while looking for others to have NSA sex with.

After Dday...when he was back home...I started going through his computer and noticed a LOT of porn images in his history look . A google search will show how porn affects the brain...and along with alcohol...it was a perfect storm for my H to do what he did.

When I found out on here that Craigslist keeps accounts of every ad that is placed...I looked to see if I could find the ads looking for NSA sex that my H placed on it. Once I was able to see the ads...I noticed how they were ALL placed later in the night...after he would have consumed several beers. That corroborated it even more for me that alcohol was a factor in what my H did.

My H decided to give up porn and beer...all on his own. I didn't know about the affect of porn and alcohol on the brain at the time he gave it up...so I didn't have an issue at that point with him drinking or watching porn. But my H told me he felt these definitely contributed to his thought patterns about USING women...especially strangers...for sex. He didn't want to be THAT man anymore...so he cut these things out of his life. Once I found out that there are reasons why these could be a factor in cheating...it made a lot of sense in OUR situation.

My H has never been one to have depression...so I can't write about that part.

A "perfect marriage" is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.

With God ALL things are possible (Matthew 19:26)

I AM happy again...It CAN happen!!!

From respect comes great love...sassylee

posts: 6035   ·   registered: Oct. 2nd, 2014   ·   location: Southeastern United States
id 8732456
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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 3:53 PM on Thursday, April 28th, 2022

People who are compulsive and reckless are rarely reckless and compulsive in one way. Heavy drinkers can also be gamblers, smokers, drug addicts, or cheaters. One doesn’t cause the other; they are both symptomatic of the same underlining pathology.

[This message edited by BluerThanBlue at 3:53 PM, Thursday, April 28th]

BW, age 40
Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried to a great guy

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

posts: 737   ·   registered: Jul. 13th, 2020
id 8732476
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Elle2 ( member #64338) posted at 3:56 AM on Friday, April 29th, 2022

I definitely think it can lower their inhibitions. It's gives them the "who gives a fuck" attitude. We all do things that we normally wouldn't when drunk. My WH definitely has a drinking problem. And depression. While he talked to OWs all day long, it was always when he was drinking that he got caught he was lazy and gave himself away. I don't think it gives a reason per se but it definitely contributes. I think it's a link in the chain to get addressed. My husband was drinking heavily with this last A.

Me: BW
WH had an EA for over a year with cow. Sexting anytime he wanted (his words).
DDay June 25 2018

posts: 346   ·   registered: Jul. 2nd, 2018
id 8732631
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ISurvivedSoFar ( Guide #56915) posted at 9:37 AM on Friday, April 29th, 2022

IMHO there is no excuse for having an affair so whether we talk about substance abuse, psychological breaks and the like, nothing justifies or excuses infidelity.

However, there are a confluence of factors that can break down boundaries and allow individuals to become willing to cheat. For me understanding the situation and those factors gave me some kind of peace. At the same time, it didn't change the depth of pain nor the accountability I set as a boundary.

In my case my WS did have a psychological break (disassociation) prior to his A. In retrospect, I can see that he started down a slippery slope about a year prior to his infidelity but didn't recognize what was happening. While it was a factor it wasn't an excuse for the awful behaviors and activities in which he engaged. And I can say that he had to climb out from the abyss long after the affair was over and it wasn't easy. We both did.

The most important factor for me was to understand it and the concentrate on my recovery. I found the more I empathized with him, the worse it became for us. He wanted to believe there was a reason other than his character that caused his behavior and the more he did that the worse I felt. So I pulled away and separated my healing from his and left him on his own. (Best advice I got from the great folks here on SI). I worked on me and my hard boundaries. I worked on valuing myself enough to not allow him to use me as a reflection of his value.

It is so important as we recover from this trauma for ourselves and demonstrate our value to us and to everyone in our lives. Part of that is understanding that factors or not, our WSs own their behavior.

DDay Nov '16
Me: BS, a.k.a. MommaDom, Him: WS
2 DD's: one adult, one teen,1 DS: adult
Surviving means we promise ourselves we will get to the point where we can receive love and give love again.

posts: 2796   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2017
id 8732648
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humantrampoline ( member #61458) posted at 3:52 PM on Friday, April 29th, 2022

I think they can both be a sign of bad coping mechanisms or looking externally for solutions to fill your holes instead of taking internal responsibility.

I've messaged here with others about my nephew's alcohol/drug problems and how he has refused to acknowledge a problem and take responsibility. At one point, I was talking with my brother(my nephew's father), who has also had problems with alcohol/drugs. My brother is now sober and healthy and has been seeing a therapist (CBT, I think) for a while. We were discussing how to help my nephew, and I said that he first has to acknowledge a problem. My brother said that all the years he was drinking and doing drugs he thought he didn't have a problem. He thought everyone else had a problem or was a problem. It wasn't until therapy that he realized the problem was him/his.

That statement stuck with me. It was similar to what my WH said after therapy. He thought the problems in the marriage were me. He thought I had problems. It wasn't until he looked internally that he saw things differently and saw his contributions.

I've known other people like that in my life. It's also difficult for me personally to realize where the problem is me and my actions.

posts: 529   ·   registered: Nov. 17th, 2017
id 8732714
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Seeking2Forgive ( member #78819) posted at 9:17 PM on Friday, April 29th, 2022

My WW was a casual drinker and used it to loosen her boundaries. She had already decided to cheat, she would drink to not feel guilty. During her TT phase she would say "I’m sorry I was drunk". It was cop out, she knew what she was doing.

This, exactly. Cheaters have a whole laundry list of tactics that they use to ease the guilt and shame of doing something that they know is so wrong. Compartmentalization, blame-shifting, rewriting history, those are all mental devices that use. Alcohol serves the same purpose, but it's an bio-chemical reaction that lowers inhibitions and eases use of those mental tactics.

It's not a reason at all. It's an excuse and part of how they were able to make it happen.

Ok, I will offer one exception. It could be a reason in a ONS where the spouse was otherwise totally innocent and simply became drunk beyond the point of being able to consent. In which case they were actually raped unless the OP was also completely drunk.

Me: 60, BS -- Her: 59, FWS -- Dday: 11/15/03 -- Married 37 yrs -- Reconciled

posts: 381   ·   registered: May. 18th, 2021
id 8732792
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funnelcakes ( member #45249) posted at 5:08 AM on Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

I don’t normally read over here but the secret infidelity plus the secret alcoholism was quite the soul destroying combo. The alcoholism reveal was really like a second d-day and it was accompanied by what I saw as a precipitous decline in cognitive and empathic function.

Plus he got to be very central in his suffering narrative with his attempts at alcohol treatment while my needs for healing the marriage (echoing Bigger’s point up thread) were put on the back burner. Like no, I have no bandwidth with my three tiny kids to rearrange my life to embark on a bunch of treatment with him. Dude was wetting the bed and leaving me in a lake of nitrogenous delight but didn’t understand why I wasn’t being more supportive of him fighting his demons.

It became a whole safety concern with the children and is still a feature and not a bug of my divorced life (see my post in D for more.) Sorry you’re in this crummy combo. It’s an excruciating spot.

Honestly, by the time the alcoholism was fully revealed, I had done most of what I could to save the marriage. The alcoholism was at the center of all kinds of other shitty sequelae. It was just not a side quest I could embark on when it was mostly soggy trolls, bilge ogre, and no ring.

d-day in August of 2014, when I was SAHM 34 weeks pregnant with kid #3
A year of incontinent alcoholic cheater word salad and shitweasely blameshifting during R/S
I got a job and busted a move with three kids to a 1BR apt
D final 4/27/17.

posts: 1168   ·   registered: Oct. 15th, 2014
id 8734640
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NotMyFirstRodeo ( member #75220) posted at 4:20 PM on Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

My WW was a casual drinker and used it to loosen her boundaries. She had already decided to cheat, she would drink to not feel guilty. During her TT phase she would say "I’m sorry I was drunk". It was cop out, she knew what she was doing.

This was my experience as well. Funny enough is how I never entertained women hitting on me and never hit on women whenever I've drank. Even if I had too much. Crazy how that works.

Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt is paid.

posts: 327   ·   registered: Aug. 19th, 2020
id 8734692
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Notaboringwife ( member #74302) posted at 4:40 PM on Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Yes. The functional alcoholism started to affect former WS behaviour prior to his beginning the affair. His alcohol intake at home increased significantly during the secret affair lasting 14 months. His put downs, and sarcasm and abuse towards me increased during his affair.

What I know is that he had internal demons/insecurities in him that drove him to drink. Fears. And he brought the same fears into his affair.

Did that push him into cheating? I think it contributed, as his affair partner drank as much as he did. He found himself a sexy, drinking partner. Lowered both of their inhibitions for sure. Escape from reality. Escape from the fears.

Forgiveness sometimes just means accepting that it happened and refusing to let it guide your choices.

Separation after D-Day March 16, 2019.
Re-united June 2019.
Me: late 60's. Him: Late 60's.
Three adult children, six grandchildren.

posts: 277   ·   registered: Apr. 24th, 2020
id 8735700
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