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My Partner Spent The Night In Jail For An OUI — And This Is Why I'm Staying With Him

There are so many things I said I’d never do before they happened to me.

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Esther Aarts
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There are so many things I said I’d never do before they happened to me.

“I’ll never let my kids talk to me that way.”

“I’ll never stay with someone if they cheat on me.”

“I’d never be able to be with someone who had a drinking problem.”

Then suddenly, one by one, every single one of these things happened to me. I’m a single mother who shares a home with teenagers, so they say this house is thick and strong. There are items I just ignore because I have zero fight left in me and have realized my kids feel safe with me, and lashing out after they’ve done something wrong and are eating the consequences is normal.

When my husband of almost 20 years told me that he was sleeping with a coworker as he knelt beside me on the sofa, sobbing like I’d never seen anyone sob before, I saw my whole world flash before my eyes.

He’d cheated because he was lonely and our sex life was nonexistent. Was it OK with me?

No, but I was able to find it in me to not leave like I always said I would. We tried for six years to work through it, but we had to face the fact we weren’t in love any longer and it was time to let go.

That experience humbled me.

When something happens to you — something that rocks your world, makes you doubt not only your relationship, but also yourself — you are left wondering who the hell you are. Your head and your heart aren’t always in line, and people looking in from the outside are always experts in telling you what you should do.

I’ve never regretted staying with my husband after he cheated because, even though people tried to tell me if he’d loved me he wouldn’t have done that, I believed he did and we were worth a second chance.

We are happily divorced, and I’ve been in a strong relationship for over two years with a man I love very much. He has fit into my life — and my kids’ lives — like a missing puzzle piece, and we are happy.

However, this man I love has a drinking problem. It’s something that was subtle at first because he’s a binge drinker. He’ll go months without drinking. He’d never seem drunk (even when he was), and he never drinks alone.

The problem is, when he does drink, he drinks to get messed up. Then, he blacks out and makes horrible decisions.

After six months of dating, I’d learned he’d driven home from a Super Bowl party after drinking all afternoon and into the night. He told me it was only a mile and he was fine. I told him if he wanted to be with me, his drinking and driving had to stop. He didn’t have to agree to this — he could have chosen to set me free. But, he made a promise to me. And I believed him.

After that, he didn’t drink a lot, but when he did there was something off. He seemed to be on a mission. He wouldn’t eat, and I had a feeling it was so he could feel the high faster. I’d watch him pound back a six-pack, when everyone else was sipping on one or two. He ordered another rum and Coke before his first one was finished.

I completely quit drinking around him, and we talked at length about how his drinking bothered me.

Because I’ve never been with anyone who had a drinking problem, and he didn’t drink often, I was confused about why it made me so angry and anxious. I often wondered if I was being too uptight. His father was an alcoholic and drank heavily every day, couldn’t hold down a job, and wasn’t able to care for himself. A lot of his friends drink more than he does so, by comparison, he thought he didn’t have a problem.

A few weeks ago, he was drinking with some friends at the bar. He called to tell me where he was and I was sound asleep. He called me the next morning to tell me he’d been arrested for operating [a vehicle] under the influence (OUI) and spent the night in jail.

My first reaction was to leave. I never wanted to talk to him again. I wondered how many other times he’d done that very thing and lied to me. I thought about all those innocent people on the road he could have killed. I thought about his selfishness. I thought about all the times I’d told myself I was overreacting and I should believe him when he said he had things under control.

I struggled with what to do for days, going on little food and sleep. He was a wreck — he still is, weeks later. He told me he wakes up every morning and feels like he’s living in a nightmare.

He also admitted — for the first time since I’ve known him — that he does have an issue with alcohol and has sworn he will stop drinking. He has the best therapist in our state to help him work through his issues. He has explained himself to his kids and to my kids, and has apologized profusely.

I have decided to stay with him because it feels — to me — like the right thing to do. I could listen to my friend who has told me he’s a loser because only losers get OUIs and spend the night in jail. I could let my ego get in the way and stay angry and move on without him because, really, I know after the hurt wears off, I’d be fine.

But, I don’t want to. He made a mistake. A horrible mistake. And I want to be with him regardless of what my friend thinks or says. Our relationship is strong in many ways, and I think it’s worth saving. I also know there are many women out there who have partners who struggle with addiction — whether it’s gambling, porn, drugs or alcohol. I know because they’ve come and talked to me feeling so much shame that they can barely swallow when they are talking.

When facing a decision like this, I think it’s so important to remember that you are the one in the relationship, you are the only one who knows what you are able to handle, and you are able to leave whenever you want. Also, if you feel like you heart needs more time to catch up to your head, that is OK, too. You are allowed to take your time and think on a big decision like this … for as long as you need.