I have been with my husband for 21 years. He has always drank, smoked and worked hard. His drinking always brought about anger and aggression of the verbal type. However, now he is angry all the time although he has stopped drinking as much.
He has no communication with his children unless it’s to tell them to do the dishes or clean their room. He is jealous of my relationship with the children who are 20, 17 and 13. He constantly says I am not listening to although he says nobody listens to him. This unfortunately is true as he only talks about himself and his feelings. When I tell him to talk to the children he says he has nothing in common to talk about with them.
Is it going to be helpful for him to get help with communication because he is now 46. Our relationship is almost non existent because he constantly nags about how bad the kids are. Yet, each of the older two have apprenticeships, are fit and happy. The younger is at school and is generally happy.
I thought at this stage in our life it would be nice for my husband and I. Instead, I don’t want to talk to him as everything ends up in an argument causing me to make all decisions on my own.
What am I to do? Do you have any advice? I feel like asking him to leave and find his happiness because he doesn’t have it at home.
- 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.
It seems to me that asking your husband to leave the household would be a major tragedy. In a recent article I wrote about family boundaries and the importance of maintaining them. The URL for it is:
What is happening in your family typifies the problem of weak family boundaries. It is important that you and your husband be united as parents, separate and apart from the children. In all probability, they sense the dissension between their father and mother. In other words, it may appear to them that you take sides with them against him. At least, that is what is implied in your email, if I am not mistaken.
Please do not misunderstand what I am pointing out. I believe you when you state that your husband has all types of difficulties handling his alcohol and his temper. Also, I believe you that he can be verbally abusive when he is drunk or in an angry mood. It would be better for him to stop drinking so that he would not become easily angered.
At the very same time, he is their father, works hard for a living and deserves some respect for the positive things he does. What concerns me is that all of you, including himself, are painting him into a corner as a “bad guy.” He has become the target for all that is wrong in the family.
Well, there is one thing that is wrong. He drinks too much and the family effort should be for him to get help with his alcohol abuse. Attending AA meetings or one of the other groups that help with substance abuse (smart recovery, for instance) would benefit him a great deal. You see, it’s not that he has nothing in common with his children, but that the alcohol prevents all of you from communicating with each other.
Your family is interesting because you point out that the kids are happy people. I doubt that would be so if their father were a terrible person. My guess is that the kids love him hugely and he loves them just as much.
This is why I am suggesting family therapy for all of you. In my view, the real issue is in the way the family functions. By going to family therapy, no one person needs to feel at fault and, indeed, no one is at fault. You need to improve the way you get along and you are correct…all of you need to communicate much better.
Family therapy along with AA should help all of you. Driving your husband away will further split the family and will create more problems than it solves.
Best of Luck