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  • Another relationship topic -- living/coping with "addicts"

    A friend of mine has helped me see that the person I live with behaves a lot like an addict or alcoholic. Only instead of drugs and alcohol, it appears his addiction is sugar. People, including me, who give up sugar notice that it gives us a better mood overall and makes us less irritable and prone to squabbling with spouses. So here I am, off the sugar and other bad stuff, feeling sunny and happy but living with a sourpuss who wants to pick fights with me.

    Long ago I used to attend Al-Anon because I grew up in an alcoholic family and ended up attracting alcoholics and drug addicts as partners. It really helped but I haven't attended in a long time. I don't know any alcoholics anymore. I felt like my life had really moved forward. Now I realize I'm living with someone who behaves like an addict or alcoholic and would like to be able to cope better. I use tactics I remember from Al-Anon, but I also see that there are a lot of things I don't cope with very well.

    I'm wondering if I should go back to Al-Anon. Other than not having good tools to deal with his outbursts, I don't really feel like my own life needs a lot of changing. Alcoholism is so serious compared to grouchy sugar addiction or whatever his problem is (I don't really know), so I'm not sure I'd quite fit in anymore. I'm happy with myself and happy overall. I don't want to leave him, either. I just want a happy life for both of us, or to at least know that I'm doing all that I can to create a happy life.

    Anybody have any similar experience to share?
    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

  • #2
    I think you are wise beyond years to know that you went from your comfort zone growing up, to perhaps a similar situation because it is what you knew. I did this, as well. I would see if he's willing to attend some counseling sessions with you, so he can understand how his behavior is affecting you and your relationship as a couple. I'm assuming you've tried to talk to him about working with a new eating lifestyle to no avail. If he is unwilling to offer any change, then you have to decide what you can live with.
    The Sedition of Sisyphus: Go Find Another Rock

    Griff's Cholesterol Primer

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    • #3
      How do you know he will behave differently when he cuts out sugar? There's a lot of lifestyle choices people make that cause them to become stressed and have mood swings. He might also be going through a phase where he's just not happy with the way things are. I'm certain you must have chatted with him about why things are not going well. What does he say about it? Does he not open up?

      It sounds silly, but there are a lot of nice relationship help books that can aid in problem solving. I really like " We Love Each Other, But..." and lately I've been oh-so curious about this: Nonviolent Communication: Effective Communication Skills and Communication Training

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      • #4
        Originally posted by GuineaPigQueen View Post
        How do you know he will behave differently when he cuts out sugar? There's a lot of lifestyle choices people make that cause them to become stressed and have mood swings. He might also be going through a phase where he's just not happy with the way things are. I'm certain you must have chatted with him about why things are not going well. What does he say about it? Does he not open up?

        It sounds silly, but there are a lot of nice relationship help books that can aid in problem solving. I really like " We Love Each Other, But..." and lately I've been oh-so curious about this: Nonviolent Communication: Effective Communication Skills and Communication Training
        I agree, how do you know it's even related to sugar? Contrary to MDA popular belief, not everything is related to diet. Maybe he is just unhappy?
        "The problem with quoting someone on the Internet is, you never know if it's legit" - Abraham Lincoln

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        • #5
          I don't know. I've read many a post from you and there doesn't seem to be harmony in this relationship. I just can't imagine being with someone like that. Oh and I've done it, believe me!! Never again though. Once in a proper truly loving relationship, you start wondering what the hell so many people are doing?!? Being happy for the most part or whatever sounds like settling to me. I want to be extremely happy and I remove things from my life that are counter to that end.

          I guess I'm trying to grasp why anyone, not just you, would want anything less than all you could ever want in a partner much less settle for just that. Life is way too short for that.

          He doesn't sound like a very happy person from all the things you have posted. I honestly don't have an answer for you except approach him about this. Find out what the problem is. If he doesn't open up and refuses to even consider help, then you have bigger problems than you think. I wish you well.

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          • #6
            I believe I said that I didn't know if it was sugar addiction or what the problem was. I guess I was hoping to learn better ways to not let his behaviors affect me, or maybe learn better ways to respond (or not) to them. I wasn't asking for how to get him to stop eating sugar. I know from my old Al-Anon days that that is not the answer.

            I'm not 20 years old anymore. I've been with him since the 90s. It's not so easy after all these years to just say see ya, and honestly, I don't want to say see ya. There are things about our life together that I really love. If I have a part in the problems, I want to know what it is and fix it. In my opinion, couples therapy tends to be destructive, with a triangle and people taking sides, being defensive, not being honest and all that kind of stuff.
            Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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            • #7
              Everyone is an "addict". Go with the tiger instead of against it. Use your understanding to gently direct instead of abruptly disrupt. Act.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                I believe I said that I didn't know if it was sugar addiction or what the problem was. I guess I was hoping to learn better ways to not let his behaviors affect me, or maybe learn better ways to respond (or not) to them. I wasn't asking for how to get him to stop eating sugar. I know from my old Al-Anon days that that is not the answer.

                I'm not 20 years old anymore. I've been with him since the 90s. It's not so easy after all these years to just say see ya, and honestly, I don't want to say see ya. There are things about our life together that I really love. If I have a part in the problems, I want to know what it is and fix it. In my opinion, couples therapy tends to be destructive, with a triangle and people taking sides, being defensive, not being honest and all that kind of stuff.
                Background-- 20 years married, mid forties, ill, 3 teenage kids when I'd had enough.

                Marriage counseling didn't work for me. You're right, both people have to be honest and open. Saying my ex wasn't is an understatement.

                Individual therapy was a godsend for me. I learned how to really see myself. I found my self esteem. I learned how being an adult child of alcoholics set me up to give too much, ignore huge red flags, and stand by my man regardless of what he did or how I was being treated-just like my mother.

                I finally learned that I would rather be healthy alone than sick with someone else. Being alone, raising 3 kids alone, battling health issues and financially struggling hasn't been easy but it is the BEST decision I have ever made.

                Only you can weigh the good against the bad. Only you can decide when enough is enough.

                Finally, given all you've expressed about your relationship, I"ll just add this-- When someone shows you who they are, believe them. Can you see yourself living with who your bf shows himself to be for the rest of your life?

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                • #9
                  FYI (because it might color my opinion) - I have 2 divorces. One from a controlling alcoholic with a temper and one from a recovering alcoholic (20 years sober) that decided he needed a girlfriend.

                  My issue in relationships is not so much the things that they do wrong or the ways they act that drive me nuts. For me, the deal breaker is when they know their actions are hurting the relationship and they refuse to even attempt change. So I left the alcoholic when he wouldn't/couldn't stop drinking and raging (after 14 years, though) and I left the cheater when he wouldn't go to counseling with me or cut all ties with the woman he cheated with.

                  I will say that there some pretty awesome men out there. I didn't meet my boyfriend until I was 45, which was 2 1/2 years ago. Now that I see how it can be, I can't see me settling for anything less, even if he died or bailed on me tomorrow. I'd just rather be alone if I couldn't find someone to treat me as well as he does (no, I don't mean money or gifts, I mean caring about me and making my life better). It's funny, because my mom told me the same thing when my dad passed 9 years ago, that she wouldn't date because no one could measure up to what they had, and I thought she was just being overly nostalgic. No one could have that good of a relationship, right?

                  Yeah, you actually can. You just can't have it if you settle for "okay" or spend time trying to fix people that don't want to be fixed.
                  Last edited by RitaRose; 08-07-2012, 03:40 PM.
                  Durp.

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                  • #10
                    I have been in some crazy volatile relationships before. IMHO, there is nothing harder then living with a landmine. You never know when they are going to go off. Walking on egg shells all the time makes a person skittish. But only you can decide what is right for you.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RitaRose View Post
                      I'd just rather be alone if I couldn't find someone to treat me as well as he does (no, I don't mean money or gifts, I mean caring about me and making my life better).
                      That is how I have felt about my boyfriend. I was alone for almost a decade before I met him and he has made my life better in a million ways. Early on there were signs that he had issues with traveling and navigating new places. That's usually where things go wrong for us. The other issue is with his health/hypochondria. I can't figure out how to be supportive yet not enabling. The man is healthier than 99% of people his age yet thinks he's going to die any minute. Why so much fear? How do I deal with the fear without feeding it or coming across as uncaring? I'm afraid many years of trying to figure out how to deal with it, and probably falling back too much on my old family ways of just ignoring him (that was my childhood--I don't think anyone spoke to each other for decades, even my mom read a book while I talked to her after school), I haven't done a very good job of making things better.
                      Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                        That is how I have felt about my boyfriend. I was alone for almost a decade before I met him and he has made my life better in a million ways. Early on there were signs that he had issues with traveling and navigating new places. That's usually where things go wrong for us. The other issue is with his health/hypochondria. I can't figure out how to be supportive yet not enabling. The man is healthier than 99% of people his age yet thinks he's going to die any minute. Why so much fear? How do I deal with the fear without feeding it or coming across as uncaring? I'm afraid many years of trying to figure out how to deal with it, and probably falling back too much on my old family ways of just ignoring him (that was my childhood--I don't think anyone spoke to each other for decades, even my mom read a book while I talked to her after school), I haven't done a very good job of making things better.
                        It sounds like misplaced fear of something else, and his health is something he can control, and therefore have some measure of control over the fear. Just my Imaginary Internet Psych Degree talking, but that's what it sounds like to me.

                        It's hard to overcome the training we got from our families. Mine is non-confrontational, so they don't understand "making a scene" by calling someone out on their behavior and not just letting it slide into oblivion. But that's what I had to do with my 1st ex. I still remember telling my mom I was leaving him. She asked if I was absolutely sure I had done everything I could to make it work. When I told her I had, she said if I insisted on leaving, to be careful because he had guns. Really???

                        Is he completely against counseling? It sounds like it could do him a lot of good, maybe pushing him to eventually confront whatever he might be ignoring (assuming my imaginary degree is valid). If he is willing to work through the issues, then I'd be more willing to help. But if he won't, you may have to accept that you're not the same couple you were years ago. The goal is for people to grow together, but sometimes they just grow in different directions.
                        Durp.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RitaRose View Post
                          FYI (because it might color my opinion) - I have 2 divorces. One from a controlling alcoholic with a temper and one from a recovering alcoholic (20 years sober) that decided he needed a girlfriend.

                          My issue in relationships is not so much the things that they do wrong or the ways they act that drive me nuts. For me, the deal breaker is when they know their actions are hurting the relationship and they refuse to even attempt change. So I left the alcoholic when he wouldn't/couldn't stop drinking and raging (after 14 years, though) and I left the cheater when he wouldn't go to counseling with me or cut all ties with the woman he cheated with.

                          I will say that there some pretty awesome men out there. I didn't meet my boyfriend until I was 45, which was 2 1/2 years ago. Now that I see how it can be, I can't see me settling for anything less, even if he died or bailed on me tomorrow. I'd just rather be alone if I couldn't find someone to treat me as well as he does (no, I don't mean money or gifts, I mean caring about me and making my life better). It's funny, because my mom told me the same thing when my dad passed 9 years ago, that she wouldn't date because no one could measure up to what they had, and I thought she was just being overly nostalgic. No one could have that good of a relationship, right?

                          Yeah, you actually can. You just can't have it if you settle for "okay" or spend time trying to fix people that don't want to be fixed.
                          Very very well said there!! There really are relationships that are everything you could ever want and then some. I'm in one now and wow what an eye opener. It seems to me that way more people than not are indeed settling and in a big way.

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                          • #14
                            I think as with everything in life, you have to take control. Check out 'why talking is not enough' by susan page. Whenever I have the energy to implement her stuff, things go very bright. Then I regress into my 'but it isn't fair' market place strategy, and things go bump. But what, we have to be mature, right? *Sigh*

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                            • #15
                              My Boyfriend has exhibited similar behaviors. He doesn't do change to some things (like diet, even mine!) well. I ended up going to therapy with the idea of "He's depressed and I can't deal with it/don't know how to help him, maybe I can get some insight" and stayed for myself. It's definitely helped me find ways to communicate with him more clearly and help him to communicate more clearly, without making me feel like I'm being his therapist.
                              Depression Lies

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