Braunwyn Windham-Burke feels better than ever after she stopped drinking, but the Real Housewives of Orange County star admitted exclusively to Us Weekly that her decision to get sober changed her relationship with her husband, Sean Burke.
“He’s known that I’ve had a problem, but part of the dynamic of our relationship is he’s an enabler and we have a very codependent relationship,” Braunwyn, 42, told Us. “While I’m getting sober right now, he’s also in his own community support meetings, working on his aspect of it because alcoholism is a family disease. It affects everyone. And, you know, especially with couples, there is a dynamic and we’re working on that.”
The Bravo star, who revealed she was an alcoholic during the October 14 premiere of RHOC, added that she needed Sean more when she was under the influence.
“I have been either pregnant nursing or drinking most of our relationship. And when I’m drinking, I’m very needy. I want him to come with me. I want him to pick me up,” she told Us. “He would get me out of situations before I got ugly. So I needed him. And when I got sober, I didn’t need him anymore. And he felt the distance and he felt left behind. … It’s very hard on a marriage. There’s just a lot of things that we’ve had to uncover [in] therapy with ourselves and each other.”
Braunwyn added that the couple filmed a lot of her addiction journey for season 15.
“I will say that we filmed as much as we could because I didn’t want to minimize that this is a family disease, you know? And one of the reasons I was able to stay drunk so long was because Sean, you know, Sean did take care of me,” she said. “So he’s working a program, I’m working in program. We both know we have a lot of work to do.”
Braunwyn and Sean, who tied the knot in 2000, share seven kids: Bella, 20, Rowan, 18, Jacob, 15, 7-year-old twins Caden and Curren, Koa, 5, and Hazel, 2. While the pair sparked split speculation last month, she told Us that they have no plans to divorce. Braunwyn did, however, confirm that he no longer lives in their Orange County family home and noted she’s seeing someone else.
“We are very honest in our communication. There are just some things that I have discovered about myself that I wanna explore a little more and he’s very supportive,” she told Us. “He understands and, you know, I am living a very authentic life right now and I’ve never given myself permission to do that. … I’m 42 and there are just parts of me that … I pushed down and now I’m allowing myself to live authentically.”
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs on Bravo Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.