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What Can I Do?

Question:

Every so often when my husband goes to work he always come home drunk. Then we get into a big agruement, but he always starts it, because he knows that I don’t like it when he starts drinking it always starts confusion between us. I am not a drinker anymore, but I always told him to at least slow down on his drinking, but it do not do any good he is going to do what he wants to do any way. He told me that he can do what he want to do, it’s like I do not know who he is when he’s been drinking. He walks in and out the house all times of the night, it’s like he is on crack. I can not take it any more, and I also had threaten him, I had pack his clothes for him and put the clothes outside. He keeps coming back and I keep taking him back like some crazy person. I am a beter person than that, but I just tired of it. I have had a double bypass operation just 3 months ago, and he was there with me the whole while, but when it was 2 days before getting out of the hospital he came in there drunk and that made me mad as hell, I’m sorry I just had to say that. Right now my husband is drunk as I don’t what. There is always silent between us when he gets that way. I am crying out for HELP please help me. WHAT CAN I DO?

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Answer:

You start out your letter saying that your husband’s drinking happens only ocassionally, but as I read between the lines, it appears that his drinking is a serious and chronic problem and a trigger for much conflict between you and him. Add to this your serious health problems which cannot be helped by the high levels of stress you’re experiencing and you have a real problem on your hands.

When marriages are troubled as yours is, my first thought is that you should seek out marital counseling, together with your husband if possible. You’re fighting a lot but it doesn’t seem that much communication is happening between you. Good communication between relationship partners is pretty much essential in most cases if the relationship is to be mutually supportive and intimate. A well trained and experienced marriage counselor could help facilitate that communication in a structured environment, and then, if there is good will on both sides of the relationship (this isn’t clear) you might begin to set things aright.

Marriage counseling may be overly ambitious, as I think about it, given your husband’s drinking. If your husband is a serious drinker, it will be very difficult for him to be an active participant in any therapy process. People who are actively addicted to and dependent upon drugs (and alcohol is a drug) tend to be selfish in orientation, and often are cognitively compromised by the drugs they use (e.g., there is some (partially reversible) brain damage present caused by their drug use). They may need to sober up and remain sober for some time (many months up to a year) before they stand a good chance in a marriage therapy situation. So, if the drinking is as serious as it seems to be, and if your husband is acting as selfishly as one might expect him to be acting if he is drinking so seriously, an alcohol rehabilitation program for him, later to be followed by therapy would make more sense than immediate therapy.

Of course, there is the issue that your husband may not want to stop drinking. If he is not interested in sobering up; if he is going to insist on a childish "I’ll do what I want to do" attitude; and especially if he is going to do things that stress you terribly and which you cannot live with without compromising your health and self-esteem, then you may be in the situation of needing to do what you need to do to protect yourself from him. If this means that you need to kick him out of the house (or leave the house and live elsewhere) so as to perserve your sanity and health, that may become necessary. That’s not a good place to start, but you may need to go there if there is no other way to protect yourself. You’re not quite there now although you’re flirting with the idea, and that is okay.

Maintaining your health going forward will require you to set aside time for yourself to eat right, exercise, sleep appropriately. If you don’t do these things, you will compromise your health. Continuing to participate in fighting as you’re describing can’t be good for your health. Keep this in mind as you make decisions going fowards.

If it will not be useful to try marital therapy up front, then you might want to see about finding a therapist (or supportive friends, family, clergy, etc.) for yourself as it is clear enough that you need support and advice.

This is a really difficult sounding situation that may get worse before it gets better. Be strong.

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