Marcy S., age 50, North Carolina

Last night Harold and I had a long talk and I think I understand something I never have before, or at least not as fully as I do now. He sees himself as an open, “uncomplicated” person who expresses exactly what he thinks and feels without pretense, without hiding behind a front, as he feels so many people do. I think he honestly believes this is the image he presents. And the idea that alcohol is a crutch and a front is altogether unacceptable to him. He is so completely dependent on it to protect him from the painful realities of life and of his own inner self that he simply can’t admit there is any problem.

I have come to see many dead-ends in trying to force him to face these facts and last night I suddenly saw how useless it is to try to change someone. Only God can really do that. Of course I’ve realized this before but then couldn’t resist trying just one more time!

From now on I want to be gently and consistently real with him, not hiding behind my pretense that we are living a normal happy married life. In the past I have usually done this in a hurtful, critical way but hope, with this new understanding, to do it in a spirit of love and true compassion. He is a sick man and needs love more desperately than I do — at least I’m not dependent upon something that would destroy me.