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Substance Abuse


How long have you been together? 8 years

What is your age range? 30-35

Please share your story:

My wife and I have been together for 10 years and married for 8.. We have 4 terrific children together and never had any issues in our marriage until the last few years.

I am the youngest of 7 children and the first married. My family is very close. About 6 years ago we lost my eldest sister to cancer and it was very devastating to my entire family. Two of my siblings, who happen to be twins, have developed alcohol problems since my sister’s passing, which is most likely, directly related.

My brother, who’s problem has become very serious, is very close to my kids, and he was my best friend growing up. After a few stints in rehab, and 2 months of sobriety, he recently relapsed again and I had to take him to a hospital for detox.

The problem, other than the obvious, is that my wife and I have become very divided on what is acceptable in regards to our relationship, and our kid’s relationship, with not only my brother, but my family as a whole. It is her opinion that our kids should not be allowed at their grandparent’s home because this is where he lives. She has become very cautious about our children’s safety around any member of my family stating that, if they are allowing this to continue to happen, then their judgment is questionable and, therefore, could be lax in regard to the well being of our kids. She will not allow me to take any of our kids (ages 5,4,2, and 10 mos) to anywhere my brother may be.

This situation has become very difficult for me as I care for her very much, and am understanding of her desire to keep our kids safe at all costs, but it makes me feel like I am turning my back on my family during a time of need, and punishing them all for the actions of my brother.

At this point, I am very conflicted, as I really don’t know what the right answer is and would like to figure out how we can move forward together as opposed to continuing to grow apart.

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I am somewhat baffled about how to respond to your dilemma. On the one hand, I believe your wife has a very real concern. Your children are very young and, with a substance abusing uncle living in the same home as their grandparents, there are no guarantees about what could happen. My worry would have less to do with safety and more to do with what the kinds of chaos the kids could be exposed to. To clarify, I am not dismissing a safety issue.

On the other hand, I am somewhat surprised about what appears to be your priorities. I may be wrong about this but, based on what you state in your
Email, the closeness your family of origin appears to be of greater importance than your wife and children. I do not mean to appear harsh or critical of you. What I am trying to say is that, in my opinion, your marriage and children should come first and foremost and your family of origin a distant second.

The fact is that you now have new family with you and your wife at the helm. This new family should, by every means, should have a strong boundary line around it beyond which no one is allowed to cross. By that I mean that you and your wife must put one another first, along with your kids. Married couples certainly have disagreements and quarrels. However, no person outside your marriage should never be allowed to threaten what you have together. It is unfortunate that you have lost one sister to cancer and it is equally sad that one or both of your twin brothers have addiction problems. Your love and concern for them is more than understandable but should never interfere with your family.

Perhaps my response sounds repetitive but that is how strong my opinion is about this.

Finally, I will point out one more factor and it is about the nature of addiction. One of the difficult variables about addicted families is that there are no boundaries. Your brother is being allowed enabled or supported in his abuse of alcohol and drugs by the very fact that he is allowed to live with his parents. You would be further enabling his addiction by permitting your children to visit that home as though everything is normal. Things are not normal and it is up to your parents to set limits or set boundaries by not allowing him to live there while he continues to abuse substances. Frankly, all of them need to know that you, your wife and your children will not be allowed there until your parents stop providing him shelter while he drinks.

Protect your wife and kids and stop enabling your parents and your brother by pretending nothing is wrong. That is my opinion and advice.

Best of Luck 

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