Functional alcoholism and family life.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
How do I reconcile a natural disrespect for alcoholism with my love for my husband who is otherwise meeting all his obligations and is not abusive? He generally treats me with respect except for this one issue, one which would normally be a deal breaker for me, and threatens to become one between us. We have children, and while I'm not keen to stay together "for them", things aren't objectively bad enough to leave, and my prospects are rough as a single parent (lack of education, spotty work history). I love him, and otherwise I feel that life is good. I'm pretty happy. I have two opposite, extreme gut feelings about this, one which says to stay and bury my feelings, and the other which says this is a disease and it will only get worse and I should protect my children before it does.
Some background info- Some alcoholism exists in my family history. I was raised to only drink occasionally and in moderation, and was frankly scared of alcohol's effects until I was of age. Because of my experience with an alcoholic step parent (briefly, thankfully), I grew to dislike any kind of regular drinking. I would say that I now have a particular sensitivity to excessive alcohol consumption, or at least perceived excess.
Despite this, I managed to fall in love with an alcoholic. I won't say that I didn't know he liked to drink from the start, only that he is so functional while drinking that I didn't notice just how excessive his drinking was. I'm willing to allow for some cultural differences- where he comes from, regular beer consumption is normal. His drink of choice is beer, and he doesn't consume liquor with any regularity. I've once seen him nearly die as a result of alcohol poisoning, and that's when I realized just how big an issue this is.
For me, it's threefold. First and foremost, I have trouble handling the fact that he will often drink at any obvious opportunity- Friday night? Beer! Pay day? Beer! Sunny afternoon off? Beer! Wife leaves her spare bottle in the frige for 24h? Drink it! He also has trouble moderating his drinking when there's a large quantity available. So, the alcoholism itself is a major factor.
Second, finances. We are stretched thin, and although our bills are paid and we even have some luxuries, we lack a safety net, and I can't help but feel like the beer 'budget' could make up for that. Now he's decided to make his own, so it's cheaper by volume, but his first batch of home brew has gone so incredibly fast that I'm questioning my patience- it's not really cheaper if the readiness makes it disappear faster. It's clear to me that the beer has a very low percentage, but it just drives me wildly mad to think about the sheer numbers and cost of him blowing through that first batch. He's become very interested in the process, and I doubt I'll be able to discourage it as a hobby, and can't be sure whether he'll start being more reasonable with future batches- he claims he will, but I have trouble trusting him on this subject for obvious reasons.
Third, the fact that I can be open and honest about all my feelings and am then lead to believe that I'm the only one with a problem. Sometimes I feel like we have really respectful conversations about my worries, but the desire to take action just isn't there, or he ends up making promises he doesn't keep, leading to more frustration, anger and disappointment from me. He has told me that it's "not a problem" for him, and I don't think he believes it when I say that it might become one for him if I have to leave.
I nearly left him once in the past, but his habits improved for some time. It seems we're moving back into an active phase of the disease, and I'm beginning to question my ability to withstand this cycle permanently I would be interested in Al-anon meetings, but unfortunately none exist for me locally.
Where do I draw the line? I sense that askme will say "a deal breaker is a deal breaker", but I think I'm in too deep for that with the kids aspect. I really don't stand to do well on my own with the kids, and it makes equally little sense for me to leave them here with him. They're young, not in school yet and I'm a stay at home parent.
tl;dr How do I navigate difficult feelings and family life with a man whose alcoholism I can't respect, but who is otherwise a loving husband and father who provides for us.