Sunday’s Gems: Personalizing the AA Big Book “To Wives”

To Wives

During our meeting this week, some people shared that it is difficult to relate to the chapter “To Wives” since we are women and we are not living with addicts, we are the addicts.

Devorah, however,  made the following wonderful suggestion.

She suggested that it is easier to understand the text when we adjust the language by taking out the references to the husbands and replace the word “husband” or “alcoholic” with the first person i.e., me – myself – or I, or change man to woman and husband to wife.

This way, the text becomes more personal and it circumvents our natural tendency to slip into the role of the wife with an alcoholic husband.

So, I thought it would be helpful if I gave an example based on the text of the AA Big Book.

I was not able to use colors, so I put the changes in CAPITAL LETTERS to distinguish the original from the personalized changes.

(113:3)   suppose that (A WOMAN) men in the fourth classifi­cation would be quite hopeless, but that is not so. Many of Alcoholics Anonymous (I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE IN OA LIKE THIS) were like that. Every­body had given up on (ME) them up. Defeat seemed certain. Yet often (WOMEN, INCLUDING ME) such men had spectacular and powerful recov­eries.

There are exceptions. Some (WOMEN, LIKE MYSELF) have been so im­paired by (FOOD) / alcohol that (I COULD NOT STOP)  they cannot stop. Sometimes there are cases where (FOOD ADDICTION/COMPULSIVE OVEREATING) alcoholism is complicated by other disorders. A good doctor or psychiatrist can tell you whether these complications are serious. In any event, try to have (YOURSELF ) your husband read this book. (MY REACTION) His reaction may be one of enthusiasm. If (I AM) he is already committed to an institution, but (I CAN CONVINCE MY DOCTOR THAT I MEAN BUSINESS, THEN GIVE ME A CHANCE TO TRY THIS METHOD )  can convince you and your doctor that he means business, give him a chance to try our method, unless the doctor thinks my his mental condition too abnormal or dangerous. We make this recommendation with some confidence. For years we have been working with alcoholics committed to in­stitutions. Since this book was first published, A.A. has released thousands of alcoholics from asylums and hospitals of every kind. The majority have never re­turned. The power of God goes deep!

You may have the reverse situation on your hands. Perhaps (YOU ARE) / you have a husband who is at large, but (I SHOULD BE COMMITTED) who should be committed. Some (WOMEN CANNOT OR WILL NOT GET OVER FOOD ADDICTION/COMPULSIVE OVEREATING) /alcoholism. (SHOULD I BECOME TOO DANGEROUS) / When they become too danger­ous, we think the kind thing is (TO HAVE ME LOCKED UP) to lock them up, but of course a good doctor should always be consulted. The (HUSBANDS) / wives and children of (WOMEN LIKE ME SUFFER HORRIBLY, BUT NOT MORE THAN I DO MYSELF) / such men suffer horribly, but not more than ( I ) do the men themselves.

But sometimes (I) you must start life anew. We know women who have done it. If (I ADOPT SUCH A SPIRITUAL WAY OF LIFE, THE ROAD WILL BE SMOOTHER ) / such women adopt a spiritual way of life their road will be smoother.

(IF YOUR WIFE IS A FOOD ADDICT) If your husband is a drinker, you probably worry over what other people are thinking and you hate to meet your friends. You draw more and more into yourself and you think everyone is talking about con­ditions at your home. (YOU AVOID THE SUBJECT OF COMPULSIVE OVEREATING ) / drinking even with your own parents. You do not know what to tell the children. (WHEN I AM BAD, I BECOME A TREMBLING RECLUSE)  wishing the tele­phone had never been invented.

We find that most of this embarrassment is unnec­essary. While you need not discuss (YOURSELF) / husband at length, you can quietly let your friends know the na­ture of YOUR his illness. But you must be on guard not to embarrass or harm (YOURSELF) husband.

I hope that everyone finds this helpful.

As with everything, take you want and leave the rest behind.


With blessings for recovery and peace,


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