Hi, my perfect relationship just got shattered and I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth even trying to save. My husband sometimes undergoes a significant personality change under the influence of alcohol. Normally he is an awesome person – loving, considerate, compassionate, and treats me like royalty which is something I’ve never had before. When drunk, he becomes verbally abusive and violent, although to date he only hits doors, etc. and has never hit me (and claims that he never will, no matter how drunk he gets, although I know that’s practically a cliché). After this last round even he admits he has a problem and claims he will never drink again because he doesn’t want to lose me (another cliché). I would be willing to give him a chance if he seeks outside help, like AA, but the problem gets worse. I looked at his email to see if anythings going on that I don’t know about and found that, while drunk, he created a profile on “onlinebootycall” and indicated he’s looking for gay hookups. When I confronted him about it, he said that’s he’s ABSOLUTELY NOT gay and doesn’t know why he signed up because he would never ever cheat on me, that it was just the alcohol, which of course he’s ostensibly never going to touch again. I know that alcohol releases inhibitions and my gut feeling is that he probably has some gay feelings that he won’t admit to, so, even if he stops drinking there will eventually be a different problem, like depression or anti-social behavior. If I shouldn’t take to heart the things he says when he’s drunk, should I do the same over the things he does? I would so much appreciate any guidance you can provide.
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
You certainly do present many dilemmas in your relationship with your husband. Let me explain what I mean by that.
First, to answer your question, no, I do not believe that alcohol brings out the true personailty. For some people, such as your husband, alcohol loosens the inhibitions and causes him to become angry and verbally abusive. In addition, the strikes walls and other types of inanimate objects. All of this indicates that he does have a problem with alcohol and that he does need to stop drinking. Even though he apologizes the next day and promises that he would never hit you, there is no way he can be sure that he could keep that promise while under the influence. In other words, yes, while drunk, he possibly could strike out at you. He does need to get help with his drinking problem and that could be AA and psychotherapy.
However, another problem rises to the surface that may or may not be connected to his drinking and it is that of going to the Internet in search of gay sexual partners. This is a problem because he has gone from “looking” at pornography to actually searhing for someone gay with whom to have a sexual liaison. He has gone from fantasy to taking the initial steps towards action. Please remember that heterosexual people can have sexual fantasies that are both homo and hetero sexual. To repeat, what is troubling is that he has taken some action oriented steps, whether drunk or sober at the time.
While I agree that your husband needs to attend some type of alcohol program such as AA, it would be a good idea for both of you, as a couple, to attend marriage psychotherapy. In my opinion, there may be some deeper issues that need to be addressed by the two of you as a couple. For one, there could be some sexual issues that neither of you is addressing. Be assured that this is very common in married couples, even those who have been together for many years.
One last thought. You speak highly of your marriage until running into these problems. My suggestion is that you not act hastily in giving up on your marriage. All marriages have problems. You report that your husband is motivated to keep the marriage alive. If the two of you are willing to seek help and work on your problems, it could be very rewarding for both of you and it could bring you closer together.
Best of Luck to Both of You.