Oct 10, 2014
Despite being a man, one of my favorite sections of the Big Book is Chapter 8: To Wives. I have never understood why this section is not mentioned more in standard meeting formats, especially in meetings with lots of Old Timers who have had time to mend the broken relationships they have had, or the new ones they have started.
Although there is an asterisk in the title stating that this section can also be applied by men living with a female alcoholic, perhaps a more pertinent note would have been that this section applies to both men and women whether they are living with an addict or alcoholic or not.
The information contained within this chapter, whether living with an alcoholic or not, is good advice. For those who have yet to read this section, it can be a new source of ideas for dealing with those of our ilk. For those who have already read it, read it again. Chances are you missed something the last time. I know I often do.
It teaches that patience and understanding is the path to our own redeemed sanity. More than that, though, it teaches that reasonableness is a virtue. Now, reasonableness does not mean being a doormat. It certainly does not mean allowing the alcoholic or addict to run rampant throughout town, sowing chaos and madness wherever he or she may go, simply because he or she is a sick person. No, it means simply: be reasonable. If there is one thing we know about living and dealing with alcoholics and addicts, it is that we/they make some pretty wildly unreasonable requests and demands at times.
However, for those of us living in such a situation, that also does not mean dismissing every request outright. We have to remember that we are dealing with people who do not think “normally.” That is okay, but it can prove more than a little challenging, especially when both people think they have the answer!
If the worst comes, it is not the end of the world. It very likely will feel that way, but where relationships cannot be mended, others can be built with friendship and support, both in the rooms of recovery and in the community.
Let’s not fool ourselves, though. This is a life or death struggle. However, To Wives offers men and women, addict/alcoholic and co-dependent/loved one alike, keys to living with those of us afflicted by the disease of alcoholism and addiction.
What do you think? Should more attention be paid to this section of the Big Book? Let us know in the comments!