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Alcoholic Husband

Question:

I am depressed about what I feel is my husband’s drinking problem. As of lately, and on and off in the last 10 years it has affected our relationship. Quite simply I do not feel intimate towards him anymore. Over the last 10 years or so we have discussed this. He does not think he is doing anything and just recently told me he is not going to stop drinking. As far as I know, he only drinks when he is home on the weekends, but, now I am beginning to wonder if he also drinks when he is working out of town two nights a week. We have had numerous discussions about his behavioral change when he drinks but he doesn’t think he acts any differently. He makes me feel like I am overreacting. He is not physically abusive, but, he does become emotionally abusive and intolerant, especially, towards our 10 year old son. Again, he does not think he is being emotionally abusive, but, as the 3rd person sitting at the dinner table on the weekends I notice the change from when he hasn’t been drinking to when he is drinking. We usually end up in a big fight by the time dinner is over. He says he will not go to a therapist with me. I guess this is my problem now. Where should I go for help? ALNON?

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Answer:

I’m glad to see that you are not totally taken in by your husband’s denial. It is just as common as all heck for someone in your position to repress what you know (that he is destroying himself and your marriage and family) when tries to make you feel as though you are overreacting. But, you are not overreacting. Steady drinking and behavioral changes as you describe them very likely qualify for alcoholism and you are very likely the spouse of an alcoholic. Al-anon is a good choice for you right now, certainly. I’d love to see you attend regular meetings there. But I think it may also be important for you to have additional support. Its too bad your husband won’t attend marital therapy (I’m so glad to see you asked him, even if he is not willing to go). You may still benefit from individual therapy, however, or, alternatively, heart to heart discussions with family, a pastor or friends. You’ve got some large issues to grapple with (whether or not your marriage can be salvaged, just how much mental abuse and denial you are willing to take before some action has to occur, etc.) and these issues are best discussed with wise others who won’t judge you and who can help guide you. Find someone you think you can trust and confide in him or her. Your issues here are actually very common ones that many people are grappling with right at this moment. If you look for solidarity, you will likely find it. Good luck.

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