Most married folks in A.A. have very happy homes. To a surprising extent, A.A. has offset the damage to family life brought about by years of alcoholism. But just like all other societies, we do have sex and marital problems, and sometimes they are distressingly acute. Permanent marriage breakups and separations, however, are unusual in A.A. Our main problem is not how we are to stay married; it is how to be more happily married by eliminating the severe emotional twists that have so often stemmed from alcoholism.
This paragraph is, I think, I sign of the times the book was written in.
I went to a meeting last night where they were reading the last part of Chapter Five in the Big Book, the part about the sex inventory. There was a pitiable newcomer there for his very first meeting, and he asked immediately what sex had to do with drinking. He told us he was there to stop drinking because his wife had taken a PFA out against him, and he loved her, and he wanted her back.
I spent a lot of that meeting wrapping my hands around my Big Book, grateful I could see what he so obviously could not.
Some time ago, a friend in the program asked me if it was my experience that couples who come in together, stay together. Thinking it over, most of the couples I know who came in together have stayed together, though that’s not always a good thing. But sometimes it’s a very good thing.
But permanent break ups are not rare. I remember when I was a child, in the late 1960s, then permanent break ups were rare in society, but not any longer. I think it’s the same with AA.
I’ve been in three serious relationships. The one I was having when I came into the program was all kinds of wrong. Then, in AA, I married someone in the program and later got divorced. Now I’ve been with my wife, Carole, in AA, for fourteen years (I had to count). We met in sobriety, and have never known each other drunk.
As for the severe emotional twists, well, the wife of a blogger has to expect some degree of discretion.
But, we speak the same language. We’re surrounded by the good people of AA in a wonderfully supportive community. I would not want to be involved with someone who wasn’t in the program. To me, that would be like being with someone of a different religion, if religion was the most important thing in the world to you. Even more drastic than that, actually.
So I know AA doesn’t solve all relationship problems, or even many of them. But I can’t imagine changing our AA marriage for anything.