Alcohol related marriage problems--advice?
June 3, 2005 10:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm not sure what to do about my marriage. Most of the problem as I see it, is alcohol.

I've been married for three years, second marriage for both of us. We have children from previous relationships/marriages and a one year old together. In the beginning, our relationship was quite wonderful and fufilling. Now, he repulses me. He seems to be still quite in love with me, and tells me he loves me all the time, but when I say "I love you" back, I feel like I'm lying. It's not that he has "let himself go", he's not substantitally physically different than when we met. What is different is that he drinks far more than he used to. He'll drink nearly every night. He doesn't get violent or abusive when he drinks, he just gets slurry speech, becomes somewhat incoherent, and falls asleep/passes out (I'm never quite sure which). As far as I know, his drinking hasn't affected his job, and he never drives drunk. But still, I find it repulsive. When he does it in private, I feel annoyed and frustrated. When he does it in front of others, I feel angry and embarrassed.

There is also an issue of money-- we are currently struggling. I'm a stay-at-home mom, and he tells me that there isn't money for things I want or need, but yet there always seems to be enough money for beer or wine. This makes me feel incredibly resentful. I don't drive (due to phobia) and I'm afraid that if the baby or I get injured, he'll be too drunk to drive us to the hospital. There is always the ambulance, but I dread the thought of having something be wrong with the baby and the hospital staff seeing my husband being a drunken idiot. I threatened to leave him when I was pregnant because I was afraid I'd go into early labor and he'd be too drunk to drive. He reluctantly, bitterly stopped until the baby was born, then went right back to it. When I try to bring these issues up to him, he basically doesn't care, or says I'm being unreasonable. He used to try and say it was my fault for hassling him so much that I was "making" him drink; but that stopped when I pointed out how "textbook alcoholic" that sounded. If I do throw a huge fit and "make" him stop drinking, he generally is either so nasty (not abusive, but incredibly unpleasant and passive-aggressive) that I tell him to drink again so he'll stop, or he just brings home alcohol after a few days as if nothing had ever happened.

I don't really have many options, though. If I leave, I doubt I can get a job that will even re-coup the cost of daycare. The only relatives I have left that give a crap about me are in another state, but moving to another state would certainly start a custody battle over the baby; as the one with less (read: no) money, it doesn't seem likely I'll come out on top of that. Our state is on the restrictive end of child custody-- I know if we were separated, I couldn't move out of state with the child without his permission or a judge's. I may not even be able to move out of state with the child when we are not separated. I moved to another town to move in with him when we met, and all my friends in this town were my husband's friends first, and likely to take his side. I've fallen out of touch with my friends in my old town, so no options there.

I'm also not too hopeful about getting him in AA-- from what I've read, it's not any more successful than quitting drinking without AA. From what I've seen, people stop drinking successfully when they really want to-- and he shows no signs of wanting to. He seems to care about making me happy, but only if it doesn't get in the way of his drinking. Apart from the drinking, he's not so bad. But I suspect that being after drinking on his list of priorities has sapped my respect for him, and along with it my love and attraction. Things that never bothered me before now disgust me (smelly gas, dumb jokes, etc.) But I also don't want to separate my baby from his father-- he'd be terribly unhappy without his daddy.

So to sum up: I'm unhappy in my marriage, but seemingly not in physical danger. I've got no money and nowhere to go if I left. I don't want to get into a custody battle because I can't afford a lawyer, plus I think it will make the baby unhappy. I seem unable to convince him to stop drinking, but I hate being married to a drunk. Marriage counseling seems prohibitively expensive, and I suspect he'll resist because he doesn't want to be called out on his drinking problem. My only option seems to be to wait it out until the baby goes to school, and then get a job so I have some money and some options. Is this all there is?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (60 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There was an earlier thread on the topic of "should i stay together for the sake of the kids" that is worth reading.

As far as finding legal help, contact the law school nearest to where you live. Many schools have clinical programs in family law, and this would be a worthy cause.

Good luck. I'd say you'd need to leave ASAP, if only for your and your baby's safety. (The drunk driving concern is an extremely valid one.)
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:33 AM on June 3, 2005

Tell him to read what you just wrote.
posted by fire&wings at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2005 [1 favorite]

You need to leave, even if it is to stay with family.
Do you want your child growing up with him as a role model?
posted by Kellydamnit at 10:42 AM on June 3, 2005

Saucy, drunk driving does NOT seem to be a concern for the poster, given that the husband doesn't drive drunk. She just wishes he were sober so that he could drive her in an emergency. If she leaves him, she won't have anyone to drive her, as she doesn't drive herself.
posted by agropyron at 10:44 AM on June 3, 2005

You should go to an Al-Anon meeting, they totally deal with these exact same issues. They can help you cope if you choose to stay or leave. Don't worry so much about taking care of his disease right now and instead worry about taking care of you. It's so difficult, but really, give al-anon a try.
posted by yodelingisfun at 10:48 AM on June 3, 2005

You should probably tell him what you've said here and then leave. You should also be wary of drunkards. He may be well behaved now, but that may not always be the case.

I find it hard to believe that you will have any trouble winning sole custody of your child, seeing as you are the mother, and the father is a drunk. And though your child may be unhappy without his father at this age, at some point i'm sure your husbands behaviour will have a negative effect on your child.
posted by chunking express at 10:50 AM on June 3, 2005

Anonymous, are you sure counselling or mediation is out of the question? If you're religious, perhaps there's a member of the clergy you could turn to. How about a therapist that charges on a sliding scale based on your income? I know a few of those.

As for making income yourself, is it possible that you could freelance from home? I'm not sure if you're a writer, but there are a lot of publications out there, many who are just looking for a competent person who will stick to deadlines. When I was freelancing, I found trade publications a pretty easy nut to crack. I have a friend who freelances for a local newspaper's real estate section. She basically translates builders' press releases into news items.

Medical transcription is another line of work I've known stay at home moms to get involved with. Check to see if there's a transcription service in your city or possibly check with local hospitals to see if there's a service they use.

I really feel for you. You say your husband loves you, though, and that might be a big incentive for him to work on repairing your relationship.
posted by Sully6 at 10:51 AM on June 3, 2005

Sounds like your best efforts are not working out - perhaps you need some help.

Have you tried attending Al-Anon or some sort of support group?

In my experience, AA does work for many people - I have been without a drink for over 10 years, and many of my friends have gone longer. People who say otherwise have a very different perspective or experience than mine.

There are also many many other alternatives for assistance - support groups, community programs, church groups, etc - from the sound of things, you need some help and understanding - this is not something you should go through alone.
posted by gregariousrecluse at 10:59 AM on June 3, 2005

It sounds like you have to figure out whether having more money in the bank is worth subjecting your kids to this destructive cycle. Isn't this having an effect on them? You write really well and must have some educational background... are you really certain you can't get decent employment somewhere?
posted by rolypolyman at 10:59 AM on June 3, 2005

From what I've seen, people stop drinking successfully when they really want to-- and he shows no signs of wanting to.

You are right. If he doesn't want to stop drinking, nothing you can say or do will convince him otherwise.

I hate being married to a drunk.

Then 'waiting it out' is not an option. Your husband is an alcoholic, and practicing alcoholics don't get better, they get worse.

I think you'd do better in a custody battle than you think. I bet most courts would award custody of a baby to the baby's mother over an alcoholic father.

I'd leave. I'd call my out-of-town family that still cares and tell them to come get me and the baby. This might be the wake-up call your sodden spouse needs. He might say, "I'm so sorry! Please come home! I realize now that I have a drinking problem, and I will do anything to win you back!" Or he might just sit on his ass and crack open another bottle. Either way, you'd be reclaiming control of your own life.

No friends, no family close by, no job, no money-- this does make your difficult situation even harder. But you have to do what's best for you and the baby.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:01 AM on June 3, 2005

Tough situation. You need to talk to him for sure, when he is sober. Also, are there things you could now to improve your chances for independence sometime in the future? Learning to drive, for instance, and getting at least a part-time job, maybe on the weekends, to have some work experience (and some money tucked away just in case.)
posted by LarryC at 11:02 AM on June 3, 2005

My first inclination is to agree with other posters and say that you need to leave, as well -- but I'd point out to other posters that Anon has outlined some very real, very concrete reasons why "just leaving" is infinitely easier said than done. Think about it: Her family is in another state. The state she currently lives in is very restrictive in terms of custody and relocating. She doubts she could immediately get a job that would even pay for childcare expenses. She's isolated in the middle of a complex legal and financial (not to mention emotional) web.

Given all that -- and given that you don't feel you or your child are in imminent danger -- I think the first step you need to address, Anon, is precisely that sense of isolation. Forget marriage counseling for the immediate future -- I think you need to seek out counseling for your own sake right now. Is there a community mental health center where you live, or a hospital or college/university that may provide similar services? These sorts of places very often operate their fee schedules on a sliding scale.

Counseling could help you work out what your immediate and long-term options are, and help you develop a strategy for executing them. (It might also help you with your driving phobia, which would give you more freedom and mobility.) Your counselor may even be able to refer you to affordable legal services in order for you to get a better sense (realisitically) of what you might be facing in determining custody (in other words, if you do leave, is your lack of income likely to be overlooked in light of your husband's alcohol abuse?). The important thing right now, I think, is for you to take steps that will cut against your feelings of being so alone in the middle of what is a massively complicated question. Once you have some allies to help support you, you can begin moving forward with the process of deciding what to do next.

Good luck!

On preview: the Al-Anon suggestion is also a really good one.
posted by scody at 11:03 AM on June 3, 2005

Sad story. All you talk about is the drinking, but I wonder - if you had a magic wand and the drinking stopped but everything else was the same, would that be good?

I ask because I wonder if perhaps he's sadly and quietly unhappy too, and the drinking is just a manifestation of that. Perhaps that numbness is how he gets from day to day. Additionally, if he's not an abusive or notably changed in personality, why has this become something that creates such disdain in you? My gut reaction is to wonder if this is simply something to hang a thousand other discontents on.

I also ask because I would say if this is not a single item but rather a single manifestation, you need to address it differently. What does it do for you to get him to stop drinking if you then have another list of things you hate about him?

So. I would say you need to address this not as a problem with his drinking but this way: "Honey, I am not happy." If he does love you and want to be with you - and you think you could come to be in love with him and want him again - then he'll want to work with you on it.

If you're already mentally out the door and just want advice on that, say so. It's gonna make a big difference in what kind and how useful any advice you get will be.
posted by phearlez at 11:04 AM on June 3, 2005

My dad is a "functioning" alcoholic and has been for as long as I can remember (though there was a 7-year non-drinking period when my parents joined a cult and he was addicted to that instead, but I wouldn't recommend that particular route) and my mother made all of the excuses you just have (sorry, but that is what you're doing, even if you can't see it). The biggest thing I noticed was your claim that your son would be unhappy without his father. This is nonsense. He is only one year old, I highly doubt if you left now he would even notice his father's absence. And I can assure that as a child I would have been a lot happier without my father around.

Sorry if I sound judgemental, my tolerance level on this issue (both for the alcoholics and those who refuse to leave them) is very low.
posted by eatcherry at 11:04 AM on June 3, 2005

If you could somehow work on your driving phobia you might feel less trapped and have more options in terms of employment, enabling you to make some other related decisions.

I feel for your dilemma.
posted by craniac at 11:09 AM on June 3, 2005

Regardless of whether you decide to leave him, I suggest that you start documenting his alcoholism now. Keep a journal of how much he drinks, how often he drinks, when he falls asleep/passes out in the living room, etc.

It may well be that your best option is to have a relative come and take you away, but if you can't demonstrate that your husband is an alcoholic, then you may very well lose a custody battle when he appears, sober, in court, and you've run off to another state with the kids.

Also, if you have a mountain of evidence, perhaps he'll see that he has a real problem, though I wouldn't hold out much hope of that.

As painful as it might be for you, perhaps you can arrange to have evening visits from friends so that they can see how much he drinks. I imagine that could be tough to arrange, but you need to protect yourself. You don't want your kids ending up in the custody of a drunkard.

Also, I suggest calling the local legal aid society (if there still is one near you; most of the funding for them has been cut dramatically) or finding another route to pro bono legal advice.
posted by anapestic at 11:19 AM on June 3, 2005

First start being more independent.. For one thing, your very dependency might be making him resentful.

This will also help you though.. To start, learn to drive. Sorry, grow up and get over your phobia. You're an adult with kids now. After that, get a part-time job. Then, after you've gotten yourself in order, you will have far more options than that of a stay at home mom with no driver's license and no job skills.

Oftentime, victims are of their own doing.
posted by eas98 at 11:25 AM on June 3, 2005

If your or he have any good friends, do they know your problems with his drinking or even just how badly he drinks? Maybe someone he's listen to? If so, I would suggest bringing this up with that friend and see if they can help you out. I don't mean to the point where the friend just up and tells your husband what a douche he is, but rather angle it so your friend casually brings up the drinking problem so there is no implication that you brought it up. Have the friend. Slowly build up a) how much he drinks and b) how it adversely affects his family. Sometimes it takes another voice to get the point across.
posted by jmd82 at 11:29 AM on June 3, 2005

My suggestions, in chronological order:

1. Start researching transportation options. Public transportation, cabs, ride shares, etc. Work to become less dependent on your husband in that regard.

2. Al-anon. Hopefully you can ride the bus there!

3. Research what you would do if you left. Start putting out your feelers now. Figure out who your friends are. Where could you stay? What could you do for money? Would your family help you? Could you get on welfare? Is there a church that could help you make the transition? Women's shelter? Explore all options.

3. Once you've got some good emotional tools from Al-anon (and you may even find a community there), bring the issue up with your husband. If he's unresponsive, then leave.
posted by arielmeadow at 11:40 AM on June 3, 2005

Let me just say up front how very sorry I am you're dealing with this.

I'll address a couple of things in your letter; you seem to know you have to leave, but are unsure how to do it with no money. If you do decide to leave, you need to file for a legal separation first thing.

Then, you need to get a temporary restraining order to keep him away from you and your child on the basis that he is a drunk, unstable, and you are in fear that he will harm you or your baby. You say he's not violent; I don't honestly believe you, and even if he's not, that doesn't mean he won't become so. He certainly sound nasty in the extreme, and verbally abusive at the very least.

As for not having enough money to support you and the baby, at the same time you file the TRO, file for temporary custody and temporary child support. He (if he's smart) will probably file for visitation; allow it, supervised. If he makes decent money, the child support allowance should be enough to help you out.

As for where to live; do you own the home you're in, or do you rent? If you own the home, you can file to have him removed from the house, and work out an arrangement for the mortgage to be paid. This may or may not work; you can certainly try. If you rent, you may have to move; I can't advise how you would go about doing this, as with no job you're not a very good tenant prospect.

There are any number of legal aid organizations that can help you with all of this. I don't know the state you're in, but I can tell you that all of the above was legal and feasible in Massachusetts when I was a family law paralegal there; no, I am not an attorney, and the laws may have changed, but I can tell you that I have prepared and filed all of the above paperwork, and there is a way to do all of this. You are not going to be thrown to the wolves, and if you have to leave because he's an alcoholic, the courts will be sympathetic to that fact. He will be obligated to support his child; you will have to find a way to work, but you will not be destitute in the meantime.

And to reiterate (nicely!) a few of the comments above - find a way to get over your phobia of driving. If that means some kind of therapy, so be it. Find a trusted friend to teach you how to drive, and just do it. Please. For your sake and your childrens', you need to be able to get yourself around. "Because he drives me everywhere" is NOT a good reason to stay with an abusive alcoholic. I have phobias myself and I know how paralyzing they can be; you can do it. You must.

Please, let us know how you're doing. You can reach me by email, the address is in my MeFi profile. Good luck.
posted by jennaratrix at 11:43 AM on June 3, 2005

Telling people to "grow up" and just "get over" their phobias? Saying they're as reprehensible as their partners (who may or not be victim to addiction) for having varied reasons why they can't leave them?

This is a woman crying out for help and that's all some of you have to hit back with? Please people, this is AskMe not HateMe.

I'd agree with those who say to try and get another source of income, such as freelancing, which wouldn't detract from looking after your kid. Isolation looks to be an issue also, so perhaps getting a new hobby which would get the house for a night a week and meeting new friends? We're just equally anonymous strangers on the internet, someone who can see the situation IRL might be of more help with advice.
posted by hugsnkisses at 11:45 AM on June 3, 2005

IF reading this post doesn't make him "see the light," and you're sure you've exhausted all other communication-related methods of getting him to stop (an intervention attended by his family/friends, for example -- this worked wonders for a family friend of ours), then you need to call, in order:
  1. An attorney to discuss your rights/responsibilities/risks surrounding taking the child(ren) and leaving
  2. Your out-of-state family to get you out of there and into a loving home with family members/friends

posted by Merdryn at 11:51 AM on June 3, 2005

Others are right: a child without a father (but a happy mother) will be definitely better than a child with an alcoholic father and an unhappy mother. Don't kid yourself that if you're unhappy (for obvious and good reasons), and his father is obviously emotionally and mentally missing (even if physically present in the home) that it's not already passing on to your son, but it's not too late to change that. I think you need to decide if you want to make one large jump or a series of smaller steps that you hope will ultimately change him and your own situation.

The large step will require some preparation: find out a list of shelters that will help you in this situation, go to Al-Anon meetings that can help you prepare for his reaction/attempts (or lack thereof), get a counsellor that will charge you based on your ability to pay (a school is a good place to start, but call social services where you live to find others - they'll WANT to help you and the baby), contact the friends and family that you DO have, and tell them both the severity of the situation and how you'd like or need some help, then leave. Leave to your family, leave to a shelter, or leave to friends.

The smaller steps would give you more control in this relationship, with the ultimate goal that he'll change or you'll leave on more solid ground. First: get counselling to understand what is going on here. I sense that these issues are greater than your alcoholic husband. You've lost touch with family, your own friends from your last home, and haven't made your
own friends in your new home. It seems that you don't have a hand in controlling the finances in your own home, don't drive, and are generally feeling lost (above and beyond your husband's issues). These are all warning signs to me, and point to the fact that you do need to become stronger and wiser in this situation. BUT, posting here is a sign that you do have it within you, and your instinct to do the right thing for the baby is still there (even if I disagree about staying with the father as the 'best' thing to do here), and you know something needs to change. You can do whatever it takes to change this situation.

Second: You need to know that if your baby is hurt, or you're hurt, that calling 911 (or your emergency number) does not lead to embarresment for YOU. If your husband is unable to drive in this case, you must know that calling that number has no direct correlation to your ability to drive, your husband's intoxication, or whatever. It's an emergency, no matter what, and whatever lead up to that situation will be treated as such. If it's something else, like a small fever, or you need to get to the hospital for some other reason (or a doctor), know the numbers of taxis in your area, and the ones that take a credit card in case you don't have enough cash. Keep that list in your wallet, for easy retrieval if you feel the need to get the hell out of there, fast, and far away.

Third: why not take control of learning how to drive yourself? This would be obviously difficult due to the phobia, but by itself is NOT impossible, at all. Taking that step would instill some more confidence in yourself, and would give you more mobility.

Fourth: Reconnect with friends, family, and make new friends in your area. Find a mothers and tots play-center, or go to a playground in your area on a regular basis, or go to a water-babies class, or trade child-care duties in a park with another mother, or whatever. GET connected in your area: it will help with your self-esteem, confidence, ability to reach out, emotionally vent, whatever.

Fifth: Arrange a counsellor, Al-Anon member, member of your clergy, or other independent person to stage a sort of intervention with your husband.

Realize that at this point, it's not just 'willpower' that will get him over it; it's a chemical addiction and needs to be treated as such. He will have seen you get stronger over the last few months, taking control of more of your life and the baby's, and won't use his control over your family to keep drinking. He knows you're weak right now, and feeling trapped. Don't underestimate the power of addiction to entirely rule all behaviours, even when he's not drinking at that exact moment. He's able to convince, conive, and control the situation, you, and your baby. He knows that, and is using that to keep you there. Break that cycle, and results will happen. He will have to get into a real treatment program, and this will not be voluntary. Trained Al-Anon or addiction-professionals will know what his response will be, how to handle the intervention, and what to do from there. He'll just say he's got it under control, and will do better the next time. They'll know how to respond to that, and handle the situation. Don't do that alone.

Sixth: Start looking into employment options. Did you go to college? What for? Can you type quickly? Even working for minimum-wage will give you some leverage.

Seventh: Know that you are strong, capable, and don't have to live like this. This is the first step. Now take the next one: call someone in your area, and move forward.

On preview: jennaratrix is dead on about the legal and personal aspects. You can do this, and even with a state with tough custody issues, this is precisely the kind of situation that courts are designed to help with. You will not be an exception: they will know how to help you, but use your own instincts and strength to do what is right in this case.

Anonymous: if you want to email me your location (state, city or county), we can do some research on social services, recommendations for counsellors, locations of Al-Anon meetings, etc. I absolutely promise not to identify you here.
posted by fionab at 11:52 AM on June 3, 2005

Then, you need to get a temporary restraining order to keep him away from you and your child on the basis that he is a drunk, unstable, and you are in fear that he will harm you or your baby. You say he's not violent; I don't honestly believe you, and even if he's not, that doesn't mean he won't become so. He certainly sound nasty in the extreme, and verbally abusive at the very least.

This is the most ridiculous, self-serving, bullshit-filled suggestion I've read here. No wonder men have so much to fear from women and their agendas. :(
posted by eas98 at 12:17 PM on June 3, 2005

arielmeadow and fionab are right about making plans. You have a few strikes against you but you are not helpless. There are resources in your community, and you probably have more friends than you think. Start looking for them now.

anapestic brings up a sore but necessary topic. Start documenting the drinking behaviors and patterns. A journal is fine, but consider gathering information from neutral, third-party sources (bank/credit card statements, receipts, photographs, etc.) You may feel a little creepy about it at first, but it can serve many purposes.

First, consider that he may be in denial about how extensive the problem has become. Statements like "you drank 12 beers in two hours last night" or "last month, you spent over $200 on alcohol" can be eye-openers. They are even more powerful in that they are not judgemental, but factual.

Second, it may help you in staging an intervention. Do his parents know about his drinking? His friends? Will that matter to him?

Third, it will help you to have the documentation on hand in case there is legal action or a custody battle. Avoid the restraining order crap if you can--it will only make all future encounters more difficult. If he loves you, it shouldn't come to this. My heart goes out to you. Good luck.
posted by whatnot at 12:22 PM on June 3, 2005

eas98: huh? wha? It's fairly common (at least it is amongst my own understanding) that alcoholics may have the capability to become violent if their own situation is confronted, their normal access to control over family is suddenly restricted, and they are not "in control" as they might like. I've seen this happen with my own two eyes in more cases than I'd like. Addiction + change + binge + loss of control CAN equal violence, rather suddenly, to people who are not otherwise predisposed towards violence. What the hell does that have to do with "women and their agendas"? Take your own self-serving BS out of this thread. I'm not easily annoyed, but that comment took me by surprise.
posted by fionab at 12:24 PM on June 3, 2005 [1 favorite]

This is the most ridiculous, self-serving, bullshit-filled suggestion I've read here. No wonder men have so much to fear from women and their agendas. :(

I suspect that's a statement that comes more from an attitude about alcohol abuse than gender.
posted by phearlez at 12:27 PM on June 3, 2005

Thank you fionab, I knew someone was going to snap at the suggestion for a TRO. I thought very hard before putting it in; and as for self-serving, I have thankfully never had the need in my life to take such a drastic step, but I have seen many, many cases where it should have been done and wasn't, to disastrous and tragic consequences. This guy needs a wake-up call, and anonymous needs a legal leg to stand on; a TRO is not a death sentence. It's an acknowledgment that her situation is dangerous to herself and her child and I would be very surprised at a court that didn't see it that way. Most likely an attorney consulted would suggest the very same thing; if it is not appropriate in this situation, an attorney will point that out as well.

I want to reiterate here that I am not an attorney; NONE of these steps should be taken without proper legal representation, they are merely suggestions and possible courses of action I can suggest after years of administrative experience in this field. I cannot stress enough that anonymous needs to seek immediate legal counsel. I was simply pointing out some of their options.

And eas98: My "agenda" is to help a woman in a really bad spot. I don't appreciate your comment, and in any case, this is not the forum for an attack on me. Next time send it to my email and leave this space open for the problem at hand.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:44 PM on June 3, 2005

I agree with eas98 in that jenaratrix and fionab are extrapolating - that information is not in the original question.

But anon, don't let this derail bog you down, the legal information and many of the suggestions in the thread (esp. from the people I just called out) constitute sound advice.
posted by rainbaby at 12:48 PM on June 3, 2005

If I can echo, for a moment, what eas98 said about driving... having a spouse/partner who doesn't drive was an incredible pain in the ass. Maybe even more than you realize...

My wife didn't drive for many years and, while it was fine at first, after awhile it got really, really old. I was extremely resentful, despite her phobia.

Anyway, the wife drives now and all is good.

('Course, you're welcome to email me if you'd like to speak privately with her about how she learned how to drive... I wouldn't say that she loves driving now, but she gets by alright...)
posted by ph00dz at 1:05 PM on June 3, 2005

anonymous, unfortunately you can't make your husband deal with his issues. You can, however, deal with your own. I would put a high priority on dealing with the driving phobia. Fortunately, phobias are a treatable ailment. Do what it takes to get yourself that treatment. Once you can handle your own transportation, your options improve all around:

If you decide to leave your husband, you'll need that mobility.
If you decide to stay with your husband, you won't have to worry about him being unable to drive you while drunk, and so your resentment (and your genuine safety concerns) may be less.
If you decide to deliver some form of ultimatum ("sober up or I'm leaving"), you'll be in a much stronger negotiating position if he knows you're actually capable of leaving.

Increasing your mobility will also help you develop your own support network of friends, and improve your chances of finding a good job, both of which will be important if you decide to leave.

If your husband genuinely is not violent or otherwise abusive, then you're fortunate enough to have some time available to work on your issues and get yourself to a stronger place. Use that time. Don't wait until he starts to become abusive, or there's an emergency and he can't drive, or you get so depressed about your situation that you can't make yourself do anything that you need to do.

Who knows, you might get lucky. Perhaps if your husband sees you working on your own emotional issues, he might be inspired to work on his own. As others have suggested, his alchoholism might be related to emotional factors such as depression. If you seek therapy, maybe he will too. If not, at least you'll be in a stronger place for doing whatever you need to do for the sake of yourself and your baby.
posted by tdismukes at 1:12 PM on June 3, 2005

jennaratrix was not out of line at all. As the 12-steppers say, the husband is powerless over the alcohol; the question is not what he is capable of, but what the alcohol is capable of doing to him. Sure, the guy anon married doesn't hit her or drive drunk, but he's no longer the guy she married, he's controlled by the bottle. That person's behavior cannot be predicted by his personality yesterday, last week, or five years ago. I also don't believe anon's protestation that he's not violent, nor do I believe that he's not a drunk driver. Sorry if that screws with your agenda, eas98.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:13 PM on June 3, 2005

I'm not saying that a restraining order is a necessity. I am saying that eas98's response to jennaratrix's suggestion of the possibility of one is out of order. eas98's response to our concern for her future safety, especially if she does an intervention or otherwise changes the situation beyond his level of alcohol-fuelled understanding, is that it is "a ridiculous, self-serving, bullshit-filled suggestion" and is really about women's agendas? Holy crap.

Notice that we did not say: given your circumstances, you will need a restraining order. I said that even considering your information, he could become violent in certain situations. Even in the case where the person is not currently violent, has never been violent, says they would never be violent, it is absolutely possible given the circumstances she listed above (addiction, control issues, financial issues taking a turn). Usually restraining orders are not given in the case where absolutely no violence has been shown. In addition, emotional and psychological abuse is as violent and damaging to both anonymous AND her young child. It is in anon's best interest to understand that a restraining order is a possibility, down the road, should it come to that and should she need it. Put it this way: there is always a first time for physical violence and anon has a better road ahead of her if she understands all of the options open to her and her kid. In my own experience in working with women that are further down this road is that they also said they didn't expect it from their parter/spouse/family member. Understanding your options and your support network before it gets to that situation can help you make informed decisions early on. On preview: Saucy Intruder is right that it's not about his power over the alcohol. At this point, the alcohol has control over him.

Anon, you deserve better, you can get help, and don't have to go it alone. Contact me off-list for more information or if you want some help finding support in your community.
posted by fionab at 1:21 PM on June 3, 2005

All alcoholics are not violent, nor are they all surely destined to become violent. I have an anti-generalization agenda.
posted by rainbaby at 1:23 PM on June 3, 2005

Just in case repetition is needed, find an Al-Anon meeting.
Ignore the sidetracks and derails, and find a meeting. is a good place to start.
posted by yetanother at 1:29 PM on June 3, 2005

Another vote for Al-Anon... for YOU. For support. It's exactly what will help you decide all these things. And it's where you'll find people who will understand.
posted by abbyladybug at 1:33 PM on June 3, 2005

Run, don't walk to the nearest Al-Anon meeting.

Get a sponsor at that meeting.

Keep going, keep listening, make no decisions right away.
In time, you will learn what others in the same situation (you are not alone) have done.
posted by NorthCoastCafe at 1:45 PM on June 3, 2005

I never said that he would definitely become violent. I said it is a possibility, and that a TRO is a response to that possibility that anon should consider. I truly hope that she is right, that her husband is not violent and will never become so, and that there is never any need for a TRO. However, it is an option that is open to her if necessary, and it would be remiss of anyone to neglect to mention it for fear that it might piss some people off. Which it obviously did. An attorney or a court will help anon decide if this is a necessary step for her. Please god that it is not. It was not a generalization, it was an observation of what is possible under the circumstances.

Anonymous, you can also contact me offline if necessary; I'm out of this thread now because I don't believe my attempts to clear my intentions are any help to you at this point. I honestly wish you the best of luck, and if I can help you in any way, please let me know. And I apologize if anything I've said has led you or anyone else to believe I have an agenda or an axe to grind; I was trying to offer you advice based on my own observations of similar situations.
posted by jennaratrix at 1:55 PM on June 3, 2005

jennaratrix: Then, you need to get a temporary restraining order to keep him away from you and your child on the basis that he is a drunk, unstable, and you are in fear that he will harm you or your baby. You say he's not violent; I don't honestly believe you, and even if he's not, that doesn't mean he won't become so.

Saucy Intruder: I also don't believe anon's protestation that he's not violent, nor do I believe that he's not a drunk driver.

It is possible that anonymous is in denial, but these claims that she is lying to us do seem extreme, and somewhat insulting -- if you don't believe what she is telling you about this why believe the other details? A TRO just might be appropriate, and mentioning it as a possibility is not out of line, but the implication that all drunks are necessarily an inch away from going postal, whatever the specific circumstances, is absurd.

It sounds like jennaratrix is back pedaling a bit from "need" to "possibility," and that is something that I think most of us would go along with.

Anyway, let's get back from the derail.

There's no doubt that you need to take care of yourself -- both for your own sanity and the well-being of the one-year-old (and the other children involved). There are people who can and will help you get counseling even if you can't pay for it.

Beginning to do something is the first step (asking for advice shows you are ready). Given your situation, and in the absence of violence, just walking out may not be the best first move, but doing nothing and hoping things will get better is almost guaranteed to make things worse.

Good luck!
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:45 PM on June 3, 2005

I also suggest Al-Anon.

If you want an online option, since mobility might be an issue for you, check out this: They have message boards, chat rooms, etc for Al-Anon, AA, NA, and other 12 step support groups.

Good luck with this.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:50 PM on June 3, 2005 [1 favorite]

QF - Yes, there should have been a "might" before that "need" - I got a little more authoritative than I really meant to. Back-pedaling complete, hopefully.

I'd like, as my final contribution to this post, to third or fourth the recommendation to check out Al-Anon - the most level-headed piece of advice given here, I think. Again, good luck.
posted by jennaratrix at 3:00 PM on June 3, 2005

i've been thinking about this thread. it's obvious a lot of people are pushing their own ideas onto whatever is happening.

i don't have a solution. but i'd suggest that, when you've thought about this some more, and come to some conclusion, you post again here asking for more specific help. maybe you'll want help learning to drive, or getting a divorce, or finding out about support communities, or helping your husband. whatever it is, i suspect that a more direct question would get better answers.

good luck. i think you're in a really difficult situation, and i wish i could say something more helpful.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:04 PM on June 3, 2005

andrew cooke is right: we can also help you with more specific things (driving, dealing with a specific phobia, finding an Al-Anon meeting in your area, whatever). But I don't think I'm pushing my own ideas: I'm trying to read between the lines of your post. I believe you that he's not violent, and it's true that most alcoholics are not violent, and that alcoholism does not mean an end to your marriage, should you not wish it to be the final straw. There are ways to deal with every aspect of your post: realizing you want to do something about even one of those aspects is the first step. We all wish you luck.
posted by fionab at 3:16 PM on June 3, 2005

Is it worth pointing out that marital difficulties are rarely the "fault" of only one spouse? I expect I may get jumped for saying this, but I can rather too easily picture myself in this guy's shoes. There are several comments in your question, anon, that send up red flags for me. You find your husband repellent. He embarrasses you. You don't love him. You throw huge fits. You are dependent on him to the extent that it seems to create power issues for you (if it doesn't, it should). Most of your relatives no longer give a crap about you (why?). You've thrown down the "passive-aggressive" slur. I could go on.

My father was a drunk. A functioning drunk, who ran a successful business and kept a lot of people employed, and who had a lot of friends, but a mean drunk at home. I hated him for most of my youth, wished my mom would just divorce him, etc., etc.—a common enough story. Funny thing though: When they finally did get divorced, he was sober within a year. Less, I think. And when I got old enough to think about it calmly, I realized that while he certainly had a predisposition to alcohol abuse, it was, in fact, living with my mother that drove him to drink. I love my mom, but that's the truth.

I could go on with more detail, but my point is simply this: Please be sure that you aren't making him so miserable that he's needing a drink every night to avoid dealing with it. Some people aren't good at confronting misery head-on. And your own story makes it clear that, if he's any kind of standup guy, he can't exactly walk away, either, and leave a wife with a new baby, who can't drive, who has no other support system, and who can't make enough in the workplace to support another household.

So, I have no idea whether any of this really applies to your situation, but, for the reasons I gave above, I felt compelled to ask: Is it possible that anything you are doing could be increasing his motivation to drink?

If you still have any tender feelings for him, I would urge you to get counseling. You say he wouldn't go; you may be surprised. Surely he isn't exactly happy being despised by his wife. And if you don't have any feelings left, well, you better do the hard thing and leave him.
posted by bricoleur at 3:27 PM on June 3, 2005

goodness gracious anonymous, I feel your pain. I've been there too. I was married eight years to a man who drank too much, and who ceased to be the man I had married years before. It was a scary and isolating time for me, too.

I second many of the pieces of advice you've received already - particularly going to Alanon - and let me add a few more.

I sense your deep loneliness. You need a friend, someone you can talk with, open up - the way you have opened up so eloquently and without ego here. Someone you can trust.

Your husband is no longer that person - he's off in his own little world everytime the cap comes off the bottle. Children can't be either - they are kids after all.

Please go to Alanon and share - really share, what you said here and more. You will be listened to, without judgement, for as long as it takes you to tell your story. Read the literature that is available at the meeting. Accept invitations for coffee after a few meetings - there is no story that has not been heard in those halls, your words will not shock, nor frankly will they be new.

Talk, and keep talking - until the edge dulls away from disappointment and hurt.

Make a friend at the meetings, or make a few... Give it time, but this will come. And - very importantly, once you are comfortable with the idea and structure of Alanon (though it's pretty unstructured), get a sponsor.

Get a sponsor, work the steps. You have to save yourself before you save your marriage or your family. You must get out of the spiritual place that you in, now, so you can begin taking steps to a better life. It may, or may not, include your husband - but that is not up to us to say. That will be up to you.

You will learn tools and techniques to stay sane when your immediate enviornment isn't. Going to meetings will give you a sense of structure, of belonging. Talk with your sponsor every day. And, after a few months, decide on what you want to do.

A small note - the first meeting may not be right for you. If that is the case, then look for another group meeting. Sometimes people click well, sometimes they do not - that's not about you, just move on and find another group that you feel more comfortable with.

But right now, your project should be you. Put yourself first. If your family of origin and your original friends are far away, then it's time to build a new family and new friends. People can help you do this - it's a bit scary at first because you might not know anyone, but in time it will feel more comfortable.

Alanon does not profess a religion, nor is it organized as a group. Alanon does not have political affiliation, nor does it have rigid directives. Its purpose is focused - to help the friends and family of alcoholics.

If you feel like sharing more, please send me an email at gmail, I have the same name there as here.
posted by seawallrunner at 3:29 PM on June 3, 2005

Alanon, Alanon, Alanon, Alanon, Alanon, Alanon, Alanon, Alanon, Alanon, Alanon, Alanon!

Alanon is a miracle program that will help you learn how to live your own life when you're involved with someone who drinks. It's free, it's anonymous, it's everywhere.

Just go.
posted by jasper411 at 3:50 PM on June 3, 2005

It's not clear to me that your husband is even a alcoholic. Alcoholism doesn't affect hiscore duties as a provider or father and he was able to stop drinking when he wanted. There are some cultures where alcohol is treated like water and, yes, people drink, quite a bit, every night. But this doesn't even describe your husband. You say he drinks "nearly" every night which sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

I get the feeling your problem is you, anonymous. Not your husband or your kids or your medical conditions. Your husband may certainly have problems--he is trapped in a marriage who doesn't love him while struggling to put food on the table--but somehow I doubt that if your husband never drank again you'd be any happier. At the end of the day, you're the one who's miserable and you need to figure out why before laying the blame elsewhere.
posted by nixerman at 5:04 PM on June 3, 2005

I feel exactly like the post I've copied below. My step-father was a 'functioning' alcoholic, and like your husband - not a mean drunk. He was embarassing and I was humiliated and repulsed by his very presence. And I still, 30+ years later, resent the hell out of my mother for not leaving him. She would have faced the same problems as you - no money, no family. But she was the adult, she was our mother, she was the only one who could have done something - and instead she let her fears and excuses decide that we would all stay in that sick enviroment and it ruined our childhoods. I would have preferred to live in a homeless shelter than with him. I bet your kids would, too.

My dad is a "functioning" alcoholic and has been for as long as I can remember (though there was a 7-year non-drinking period when my parents joined a cult and he was addicted to that instead, but I wouldn't recommend that particular route) and my mother made all of the excuses you just have (sorry, but that is what you're doing, even if you can't see it). The biggest thing I noticed was your claim that your son would be unhappy without his father. This is nonsense. He is only one year old, I highly doubt if you left now he would even notice his father's absence. And I can assure that as a child I would have been a lot happier without my father around.

Sorry if I sound judgemental, my tolerance level on this issue (both for the alcoholics and those who refuse to leave them) is very low.
posted by eatcherry at 11:04 AM PST on June 3 [!]

posted by LadyBonita at 5:43 PM on June 3, 2005

i think you need to go to al anon first, before you decide what it is you need to do ... and it will take time, i think ... the choice between living with an addict/alcoholic and not living with one is never easy ... especially if things haven't reached the crisis point yet ... i've been there, i know

it's not going to be all about him, either ... you're going to have to ask yourself some hard questions ... why have you left yourself in such a powerless condition? ... why didn't your first marriage work out? ... was there a similar problem in that or other relationships? ... was one of your parents an alcoholic or addict? ... is there something about you that wants this kind of relationship?

tough questions ... and i don't have the answers, you do ... but you need to understand that living with this is affecting you in ways you don't even realize ... and just as you cannot control his drinking or his life ... you won't be able to control your life, your reactions to his problem, or how you deal with it unless you're willing to be brutally honest about yourself and why you're in the situation you're in

it may well be that the answers to all these questions is that you've simply had some bad luck in your life ... fine ... but make SURE of that ... otherwise, you've got a lot of work to do for yourself

please understand that i'm not judging you ... i lived with a cocaine addict for years, and i know what this is like ... and after another bad relationship, i've had to ask myself the same kinds of questions, and i haven't liked the answers i've come up with ... but i have to deal with them ...

you'll have to change something ... and al anon is one way you can discover what you need to change ... good luck and god bless

a note about temporary restraining orders ... your husband would have the right to contest this in court and have a hearing over it ... and if the hearing didn't go well for you, that might not look well in future legal proceedings ... i would think very carefully about this
posted by pyramid termite at 6:46 PM on June 3, 2005

I have to also copy what eatcherry said because it was my family too

My dad is a "functioning" alcoholic and has been for as long as I can remember and my mother made all of the excuses you just have.... The biggest thing I noticed was your claim that your son would be unhappy without his father. This is nonsense. He is only one year old, I highly doubt if you left now he would even notice his father's absence. And I can assure that as a child I would have been a lot happier without my father around.

My father was and is a grouchy though not physically abusive drunk and my mother stayed married to him in a loveless marriage for the first twelve years of my life. I've got an okay relationship with him now mostly because I'm not a kid and so I walk out of the room when he gets nasty and insulting. I will never forgive my [non-drinking] mom for not playing the adult role and getting us out of a house where everyone yelled at each other, my Dad always made fun of me, and we weren't allowed to have friends over.

I would have preferred to live in a homeless shelter than with him.

This is also how I felt. I hated my life until my Dad moved out [of his own accord pretty much, leaving my Mom a crazed angry woman who was pretty much mad at me for the next five years] and it took me a long time before I could form useful relationships with men that didn't involve substance abuse or a great deal of yelling. I'm not full of advice for what you should do [al-anon is great, getting treatment for phobias and possible depression is a good idea, welfare and WIC are made for situations like this in the US] but I just want to support what you are saying. He is a textbook alcoholic. You, if you are not careful, could be a textbook enabler and grow up telling your kids that it's okay that Daddy drinks til he passes out every night because at least he's not beating you.

For now the most important thing is to be up front with your kids who are old enough to understand [no one told me my Dad had a drinking problem until he had moved out, I just thought all Dads were like that] and to spend some time thinking about what you'd like to be doing a year from now. It's pretty hard to do any armchair psychoanalyzing from a post in AskMe, but it sounds like you have some issues of your own wrapped up in this [the emergency/ambulance thing seems like a smokescreen for the drinking problem, custody battles are lousy but not as bad as being in a loveless marriage, in my world anyhow] that could be worked on while you figure out a longer term plan. You have my symapthies, none of your solutions are easy.
posted by jessamyn at 7:08 PM on June 3, 2005

I really hope that you have not been completely turned off by the sheer number of answers your question has generates, to say nothing of the tone of some of them.
I am sorry you feel so alone in this. If possible I think the AL ANON suggestions are good. Make some calls because most programs like this wil help you with transportation or send someone to the house to talk to you.
I suggest you at least call your family and let them know what's going on and how you feel. Even if you feel you've lost touch with your old friends, I'll bet there is one friend from your past that would be willing to at least talk, if not help in other ways. Don't discount your old friends, women tend to make bonds that survive the test of time and distance.
You might want to make some gentle suggestions to your husbands friends, or wives of friends, about your feelings and see if they have noticed a pattern. Perhaps if enough of his buddies feel this way, but are afraid to say something, they might help stage an intervention. Hearing these things from other sources might just help.
My thoughts will be with you. I hope you find a path out of this difficult situation.
posted by leahsmom at 8:34 PM on June 3, 2005

Where did you mislay your compassion, anon? How about a nice, "Honey, what's wrong? Why aren't you happy?" He doesn't sound like an alcoholic to me, as others have mentioned. I hear the description of a man in a rut. It may behove you to come to the aid of your man.

When was the last time you did anything fun together? When was the last time you two got away from the kids? When was the last time your husband did anything that got him excited, that was his alone, or for the two of you?

Ruts suck, but people don't always recognize when they're in one. Drinking may seem to help, but it doesn't really. My concern is that the drinking is a symptom. I don't have to accuse you, anon, of being the cause. Could be work, could be kids under foot. Could be pure boredom with life that is always exactly the same (I get this way myself).

You seem so firm about the drinking, but said nothing about how much he drinks, only how often. Men often start getting overly relaxed in evenings, falling asleep in front of the TV. Drinking isn't why. When was the last time your husband had a complete physical? I lost my first partner to heart disease. He was only 46. Main symptom, known only in hindsight? He was falling asleep in front of the TV, earlier than reasonable. Alcohol wasn't involved. The other symptom, appreciated now, was sleep apnea.

Anon, your life clearly sucks, and I'm sorry for you. But it sounds like your husband's life isn't much better. And hey, being MARRIED means something, or nothing at all. Something bugging your marriage? Stand TOGETHER against the problem, not in opposition.
posted by Goofyy at 1:01 AM on June 4, 2005

2c -
I most liked what scody wrote, not that this is a popularity contest, but seeking allies or friends or at the very least a friendly ear to bend is important to gain some real perspective that's not possible from an online forum. Maybe someone will be willing to come to your place (obviously it goes on what's available and what they're willing to do given any restrictions your situation demands). But you must ask for help IRL.

So, if you can't (because of transport problems) or won't go to Al-anon, use the links given above to ring them. The telephone might be your first best option given that safety is not an acute issue. Mental health, Al-anon, telephone counselling service, local hospital, social worker, child support agency ----- look in your local phone book and pick one.

Alcoholism is unique in that it's about the only disease where self diagnosis is mandatory in order to be able to start to get help. He has to want it himself. So I guess I sit on the fence between nixerman and Jessamyn ---- there's not really enough info to brand him one way or t'other.

If you can gain a friend/ally/assister then plan a level headed strategy. In this regard I think that you are going to have to speak (as opposed to rave / rant / badger / yell) with your husband and express your discontent and fears to him. But before that, I think that you need a sounding board to help you examine whether or not there's other issues within yourself that may have been discounted. I'm not suggesting there are. I don't know. But I baulk at the ideas of restraining orders or drinking diaries or immediately running from the house. I'm with Goofyy in so far as you should expend some energy trying to salvage your marriage and if that's only going to be possible by your husband going on the wagon, then you'll have to tell him that. But it just won't be good enough by itself without his agreeing to do something in addition to stopping drinking.

You'll want to provide options (not ultimata, as that's just going to generate resentment and further complicate the situation) such as AA or counselling *psychologist or marriage*, but it's really important that this gets communicated in as dispassionate a manner as you can muster. But perhaps you'll also need to tell him that you are at the end of your tether and you are thinking about moving back with your family as a last resort if things can't be improved -- just thinking about it, not threatening to do it -- seek his (sober) input as to a remedy -- you owe your marriage and your children such a shot. And if there is anything in the scenario to which, honestly, you've contributed, then offering a compromise to obtain his agreement to seek treatment would be wise and just.

I wouldn't show him this thread. It would be just another reason for him to further justify his alienating practises. If you make a call to a counelling service -- read out your question you wrote here as a start. They'll ask questions and you can move on from there.

Find an ear. Establish support. Plan a conversation. Look inside yourself too. Best of luck.
posted by peacay at 3:00 AM on June 4, 2005

Definitely check out Al-Anon. In my experience, these sorts of dysfunctional relationships have two sides to them. Work out the issues on your end, and your partner will have an example to inspire him. Whether he responds to the example or not, your choices about the future will become obvious when you stop playing the codependent game.
posted by Manjusri at 1:30 PM on June 4, 2005

It's not clear to me that your husband is even a alcoholic. Alcoholism doesn't affect hiscore duties as a provider or father and he was able to stop drinking when he wanted.


He doesn't sound like an alcoholic to me, as others have mentioned. I hear the description of a man in a rut.

Someone who passes out "nearly every night" from alcohol is not an alcoholic? I don't see how this can be a reasonable or rational perspective on what the poster says is happening. I think you can be both in a rut and an alcoholic (and perhaps most alcoholics are). Addicts of all types can be "high functioning", and the addiction may have any number of causes (and there are probably multiple ones), but that doesn't change the fundamental fact that they are addicts, or the fundamental facts of what that entails for their behavior.
posted by advil at 4:06 PM on June 4, 2005

Several people here have said that the poster's husband doesn't sound like an alcoholic. I think it's time we clear this up. The Mayo Clinic has a very good website, and they list signs and symptoms of alcoholism.

Let's see. The poster's husband meets at least these criteria, as I see it: drinking alone or in secret; losing interest in hobbies and activities; feeling a need to drink; becoming intoxicated to feel good; having problems with relationships (obviously). He probably also meets some of the other criteria, such as making drinking a ritual, becoming irritable around drinking time, and building up a tolerance. He may well also feel withdrawal symptoms, but we have no way to know for sure. He of course denies he has a drinking problem of any kind, which, given the other symptoms, is a fairly large symptom in an of itself.

Face it: If everything the poster said is true, her husband is unquestionably an alcoholic.
posted by cerebus19 at 4:53 PM on June 4, 2005

Face it: If everything the poster said is true, her husband is unquestionably an alcoholic.

Bull. For crying out loud, at least read the whole page you linked to: "People who abuse alcohol may experience many of the same signs and symptoms as people who are dependent on alcohol."

More importantly, whether or not the husband is an alcoholic—a slippery and notoriously normative term—is really beside the point, unless the point is just to fix blame. Even alcoholics can stop drinking if sufficiently motivated. The question is, to what extent is alcohol the root problem in the marriage? It looks to me as though it is only one problem of many. I'm amazed at how many commentators in this thread seem to think that whenever alcohol is an issue, it is the only issue.
posted by bricoleur at 6:29 AM on June 5, 2005

Nixerman & Goofyy: I wonder what you would have said about my high-functioning father when he was younger. If wonder if you would still have said the same thing to see how yellow his skin was when he died at the age of 56.

I'm sure anon's husband has years worth of chances to avoid the same end, but from reading her post, it sound to me like he's an alchoholic (and what part of drinking almost every night to the point of slurred speech and reduced coherence doesn't sound like alchoholism). In the meantime, I agree with those suggesting seeking support in something like al anon.
posted by Good Brain at 12:02 PM on June 5, 2005


My heart goes out to you. As a stay-at-home mom, I know how isolating it can be, especially if you have a phobia or two. (You with the driving, me with the trophy-wives. The stepford people in my neighborhood...they scare me.)

Phobias are difficult, but can be overcome. Trust me when I tell you that you will need to know how to drive unless you live somewhere civilized that has good, safe public transportation. (There aren't many cities in the US that qualify.) Once your son gets a little older, you'll have things like swimming lessons and soccer practice and baseball and birthday parties for his friends. You must be able to get him and you out of the isolation tank you're creating.

I second the Al-Anon suggestion, even if it is the online group where you start. But, internet groups can't give you a hug, and I really think you could use one. :)

Considering the age of your son and the emotion in your text, have you considered that you may be having postpartum depression? For some women, it hits right about the time the baby turns one and all those magical changes are happening with them and biologically with you...especially if you're just weaning. If you feel that you're suffering from depression, either situational or biological, see what community services are available to you, or what private services can be had at a lower cost. Insurance covers most counseling.

You can't control someone else's habits, but you can control yourself. As hard as it seems to do, you have to break your isolation. If it's safe to go walking, take your baby in a stroller to the nearest park. Meet some other mommies, even if it's just that brief 20 minutes of conversation, you're still breaking the isolation...and you might make some new friends.

I know that I love hearing from friends who've "dropped off the planet". Call some of your old friends, I bet they'll be thrilled to hear from you.

Once you think you have your depression/anger/disappointment/resentment under control, then you can sit down with the man you loved enough to marry and ask him to unburden himself. Find out what is making him unhappy. Maybe his job sucks but he feels trapped and needs you to be willing to take a risk so he can get out. Maybe he feels just as isolated as you do. Maybe he feels like he's running on a hamster wheel with no reward and no end in sight. Maybe he drinks because he's sad, or lonely, or depressed.

I know I wasn't prepared for how radically life changes when you have a baby. Maybe neither of you were either. And maybe, just maybe, with the right help, you can get back on the path that you trod as newlyweds and raise healthy happy children in a healthy happy marriage.

I wish you the best of luck. I wish there was something I could do...well...I can...if you live in the Dallas area, I can probably find some time to teach you how to drive. Also, my email is in my profile, I'd be glad to help you keep a head above water via echats if you'd like. Big hugs to you, the baby and the husband. Sounds like everyone could use one.
posted by dejah420 at 6:40 PM on June 5, 2005

I'm going to open myself up to the wrath of MeFi and suggest that alcohol has nothing, or very little, to do with the problem here. Lots of people love drunks, even if they are sloppy, disgusting, textbook alcoholics. But it seems that you don't love your husband anymore. Come on - you've researched the legal implications of taking your baby and leaving the guy. The bloom is off the rose.

Lots of women in your situation find another man who looks like a better option, and leave their husband for him. That's a pretty tall order for someone who's where you are right now. Step one is going to be facing all your fears about life, the future, the universe and everything. You can start by learning to drive.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:35 AM on June 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

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