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Alcoholism and Marriage

“My Partner is a Functioning Alcoholic”

functioning alcoholic businessmanBeing married to a functioning alcoholic is a big problem. Tens of thousands of families in North America alone are struggling with the issue.

For a minority of people social drinking can gradually deteriorate into alcohol abuse and eventually into alcohol dependence. The drinking could have started in a lot of different ways, but that’s not what’s important. What is important is that the drinking became a habit and the habit became alcohol dependence or alcoholism. It matters not a hoot whether the alcohol is in the form of beer, wine or hard liquor.

Now your partner has shifted from enjoying a drink to compulsively needing alcohol to feel okay. And you may have shifted from being giving and caring to being addicted to your partner’s care. (Compulsive caretaking often grows alongside the deteriorating self-care of the compulsive drinker.)

If the alcoholic has more or less continued to hold down a job, he is politely called a “functioning alcoholic.” But he is an alcoholic nonetheless. He works much below his potential, he neglects or abuses his family and he may not live very long if he continues the self-abuse.

Like all addicts he lies (bold faced lies, lies of omission, cover-ups, minimization), he makes excuses, he blames others for his drinking, and he continues to seek out and use alcohol regardless of consequences.

If there are children present, they copy the lying, justifying, blaming behavior which they see modeled. They also learn to keep family secrets and to cover for their alcoholic parent. In other words they join in the “dance of alcohol” and participate with their parents, learning how to be alcoholics or how to live with them when they grow up.

If you are an alcoholic and you are in a marriage, you may have to leave your drinking behind completely in order to gain any hope of reversing the progressive damage your alcoholism is inflicting on yourself and your family.

If you are living with an alcoholic, there are steps you can take too. Perhaps more importantly at first, there are things you can learn to avoid so that you don’t further your partner’s alcoholism. Making excuses for him, for example, only makes things worse. You don’t want to be an enabler or a rescuer.

The Alcoholism Test

Over the years in my psychology practice many women have started their first session with “My husband is a functioning alcoholic.” In the last few days alone two more women took the Alcoholism Test and left a comment opening with “My husband is a functioning alcoholic.” I seldom see or hear the statement without also sensing an undertone of desperation and frustration, as if to say, I didn’t bargain for this when we got married.

The Book on Alcoholism

Some time ago I started to write a “survival guide” for women caught in the predicament of a marriage troubled with alcoholism. It is now available as the book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide. Although it is addressed to women who live with alcoholic husbands, it could be addressed to men with alcoholic wives. Whether you are a man or a woman, your hope begins with educating yourself about the alcohol abuse. Like all personal change, it starts with you.

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238 comments to Alcoholism and Marriage

  • Katherine

    Hmmm..not sure about the “…there’s hope yet…and it starts with you.” I have been in and out of therapy for 2 years as the wife of a functioning alcholic whom will not believe/agree that he is an alcoholic. The damage it has done to me, despite learning coping mechanisms, learing to combat co-dependancy and protect my daughter and his from his previous marriage from witnessing destructive behaviours as much as possible has been, I feel, insurmountable. I would ask yourself why you are putting saving the marriage before the health and welfare and the opportunity to live as a fulfilling live as possible of you and any children? I’m not out of the woods yet, though seperated for 10 months I feel ‘compelled’ to stay in the relationship – just ’safe’ enough to stay yet not free to life a fulfilling life. And yes, I recognise this is my doing, my being compliant to the co-dependancy I have developed. My long-term friends no-longer recognise me from who I once was…and I want that woman back…it’s a long road and I’m not so sure that it can be a journey travelled by two.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Katherine,

    If I have given you the impression that I put the marriage ahead of health, safety and life fulfillment, I apologize. Safety comes first, absolutely. If you are doing the work on yourself, and it appears you have been, then it may be time to ask yourself “Can I accept this man as my partner as he is?” If the answer is “no,” then perhaps it’s time to walk (or even run.)

    What I wrote arose from the fact that so many people start with blaming their partner’s drinking for their unhappiness and end the marriage without taking a look at themselves. The choice is to look inside of yourself now or to do it later in your next marriage. Ugh!

    My wife and I have each been in three long-term marriages. We are now in our 27th year with each other. No, it often cannot be a “journey travelled by two” until it’s the right two.

    And one more thing: give yourself a big boost by replacing “coping” and “combating” with “transforming.”

    I hope this have been of some help.

    Neill

  • Linda

    never thought that marriage would be like this. There’s rarely any communication between us. As for sex,I can totally live without it because I can never compete with the attention and care that he seems to give to his bottle. Of course he seems to maintain his sexual drive because I continue to be that loving wife, even though I feel so alone. Even though my husband is a functioning alcoholic as far as work is concerned and paying bills, he isn’t functioning when it comes to this marriage. And sadly I’ve been advised by an older christian women, that I should be thankful that my husband drinks at home and pays the bills but by knowing the God I serve, my God has told me that I have a right to expect more out of my marriage. Marriage to me is complete intimacy of the heart and soul. Therefore I hold no bitterness towards that older lady’s advise.

  • kristin

    i feel exactly the same way that Linda feels, I would love to run, but I can’t afford to do it financially. It would take me a few years to pay down debt to get to the point of being able to afford to be on my own with my girls…

  • Tom

    I have been in a marriage for 28 years with an alcoholic spouse. She was sexually abused by her older brother when she was a small child for several years. That is where the problem begins, however. I have been the enabler and finally I am starting to try and change my behavior. I have made it way to easy for her to continue her drinking. I am now getting my ducks lined up to end this dreaded nightmare.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Tom,

     You note serves as a reminder that there are many alcohol-distressed marriages out there where the alcoholic is the woman, not the man.

    Thank you.

    Neill

  • Justin

    I have scoured the web for information like this and appreciate the forum. I have, within the last 4 days separated households from my Wife, who will admit to "managing all issues in her life with alcohol", but will patently deny she has an alcohol dependency problem, and refused to address it – as far as she is concerned, it is not a problem for her. I have been asking her to address the problem for almost 3 years, nothing has changed, recently it has gotten worse. As I read many posts from websites, it seems that is a common theme that rings loud and clear from those that have the courage to exit their situations, which is "I can’t believe I have stayed so long", they wish they would have left years earlier and they are healing and finding happiness. I have been out for a few days and already feel relieved, sad for sure, but when I think about going home tonight I am looking forward to it, not necessarily to being alone, but not being degraded and ignored by a drunk Wife who does not consider me in anyway.

    If you are on the edge of leaving, if you are out of ideas and getting no encouragement from the offender, my advice is follow through on your instincts – you can’t ever get the time back and you will wake up one day (if you stay in the relationship) and be too old to care about the quality of the rest of your life. I feel like I am healing by the minute.

  • Tom

    Justin,

    Thanks for the note. I can’t believe how difficult life can be when your partner is an alcoholic. T

    hank you for the comment, I do appreciate it. I wish you the best.

    Thank you Tom

  • Lori

    My husband and I have been married 11 years this January. He has been an alcoholic for the entire time I have known him. He stopped drinking for about 3 years but started back I think around 2 years ago. I am finding myself scared and at the end of my rope. My father passed away in December (almost 1 year ago) and I have been trying to cope with that. My husbands drinking and inappropriate behavior over the last year has felt like a slap in the face. In January and March I found him texting and having lunch with 2 different women. And the drinking as become completely out of control. He was hospitalized about 6 years ago with Pancreatitis and could have died. At that time he was drinking over a 5th of vodka a day (everyday, even at work). This time he has gotten on Jim Beam. I am finding countless (empty) 1/2 gallons of Jim Beam around the house. I love my home and don’t want to leave, but I can’t afford it on my own. I know I need to leave. I do love him, but I feel more like his mother than his wife. He is drunk all the time and seems like a small child in his behavior. He talks slow, his gaze is glassy and out of focus, he stumbles, and forgets things. We have a 9 year old daughter that I feel so guilty about subjecting to this lifestyle. I know this is the time to do it. We just refinanced our house and paid off everything we had financed together except the house. We could sell it, split the money and be done. I am just so afraid to take that step. We were separated once before for 11 months when she was around 2 years old. We got back together because I couldn’t stand to leave her with him and it was easier to just be there with her. I am only 33 years old and I feel like I am wasting my life and probably damaging my child’s as well. What makes things worse is my husband is a law enforcement officer and I don’t want to ruin his reputation. He needs help, but I can’t do it anymore. His father is his best friend and he is just as much an alcoholic and really responsible for starting the whole mess. I guess I just need some encouraging advice. I feel so alone since my dad died, just really really depressed and hurt. I feel so hurt that he would put me through so much extra pain, on top of the loss I have to cope with already. Thanks. Lori

  • Chris Hill

    On 22nd December I finally “cracked” and kicked my husband out. We have been together for 21 1/2 years, married for 18 1/2 and have two sons, 15 and 12. He has been an alcoholic for that whole time but the abuse escallated in the last few years after someone committed suicide by jumping under his truck. I tried everything I could to help him, not realising how codependant I was being. I got so stressed towards the end, that I was getting physically ill. My health problems over the last few years include depression, migraines, back ache, stomach pains etc. As soon as he left those problems have been vastly improved! His health has deteriorated so much over the last few years that he is impotent and has liver problems ( nearly cirrosis). He has chosen to keep drinking, rather than go through rehabilitation and counselling so that we can live together again. We are both children of alcoholics and I think we attracted each other because of it. Finally I am putting myself and my children first and not letting him drag us down any further. Financially I will be better off – he was spending $300 – $450 per week on booze – no wonder we were going backwards! If anyone reads this, please know that you Can do it – you can leave him/her and have a better life. No matter how much you try to fix them, the alcohol will always win in the end. Good luck

  • Leigh Kapidus

    So…what are the literal steps when you want to leave an alcoholic husband?

    Find a divorce lawyer? Find an apt? Trade in your car for an undistinguishable car?

    What do you do first, second, third???

    Obviously, I’m about to leave but want to know what to do when to benefit and protect me most. Any stories on that?

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Leigh,

    Every woman’s situation is unique, but the first thing to do is decide whether you will be in any danger. Women are most at risk of being harmed by their partners at the point of leaving and during the first year or so afterwards. This decision will have a bearing on everything else.

    Next, find and talk to a lawyer and work out a strategy for separation.

    When everything is in place, make your move. Sometimes it’s best to do it when he’s away, but you will have worked that out with your lawyer.

    One woman I know moved out with the children to a safe house, immediately got a court order to get him out of the house and her and kids back in, got a restraining order and changed the locks. In another case she had to move half way across the country for her safety, and work through a lawyer and family members to get her due. It usually comes down to this: work out a plan as if you are single, then do it. It’s not about winning an argument, it’s about taking charge of your life again. I hope this has been of some help.

    Best wishes. Neill

  • Stacy

    My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years. We’ve been together for 6 and have known each other for 15. He’s mentioned a handful of times in the past 6 years that he feels he’s an alcoholic. I’ve known this the entire time we’ve been together. He comes from a very abusive past, has struggled with low self esteem (which I feel has actually gotten better). However, He cycles – about every 4 – 5 months he hits a low. While in the “low” he drinks every night, excesively (8+ microbrews). And this happens for about a month, then things get better and he’s back to 3 or 4 beers a night, he’s happier. During during his “cycle” it’s impossible to talk to him. He gets very defensive (NEVER abusive). He just closes up and drinks. He becomes emotionless, sometimes overly sensitive.

    This is very difficult for me because our marriage will be great, and then all of a sudden it crashes during this time, then after a coule weeks or so it’s great again. I don’t know if what i’m doing is enabling this cylce or what. I know that a huge part of this is his drinking. I’ll try to talk to him about it when things are good and he just says that he loves the taste of beer and then he can’t go without it. He doesn’t see this as a cycle. He usually just blames this on something I’ve done, maybe it is, but it isn’t entirely. I really think that root of the issue is his self esteem. I do get very impatient when he starts drinking exsively.

    I should also include that He is very responsible. He just started his own business, he takes his work very seriously. Never has he missed work due to a hangover or anything like that. That’s another reason why it’s hard to bring it up. He’s very responsible, yet he clearly has a drinking problem. He refusing to seek help.

    I’ve been spending time on this site, thank you all for providing your comments, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. This is the first time that I’ve branched out and gone to a site like this for help in understanding alcoholism. Any comments would be so meaning. Thank you.

  • kris

    Good morning. I am happy to have come across this web site. I am crushed this am. I am married to an alcoholic who has had periods of sobriety throughout our 13 yr marriage, but cannot get sober this time. He started drinking again about 3 yrs ago. Finally after several failed attempts to quit on his own went to an inpatient rehab center. He has been home for 3 month and we were just starting to feel hopeful enough to try to start putting our marriage together again. He came home at 2:00 this morning, so drunk he could barely stand. I don’t know what to do?? I know I cannot live with his active alcoholism but when do I give up. When is it a relapse vs a slip?

    When, as a wife and mother of our 9 yo do I give up?

  • Carrie

    Stacy,
    I understand what you are going through. My husband and I go through the same thing every couple of months. My husband is a drinker and comes from a family (mostly father and uncle) of drinkers. Latley the drunken yelling has really become incredibly embarressing as my husband left on 4th of July weekend after drinking large amnts of beer (which subsiquently led to a HUGE blowout infront of my family and friends before he left.) During his worst, I am the b*tch who has ruined his life and he usually storms out whilst telling me he wants a divorce. But during his best he is very loving towards my daughter and I. He has always been a big drinker (several beers a night to a case every day or so) and he acctually quit drinking certain types of hard alcohol after some very very bad nights. I love him so much but I am at the point that I dont even want alcohol in our home, we have very little of a sex life as I dont even feel the urge most of the time, and I find myself feeling incrediby depressed (like Im backed into a corner and I have to watch what I do and what I say). He knows he has a drinking problem and he has said he will stop but it never happens. What can I do?? We are at the point that if another incedent, while he is drunk, happens, we may not be together afterwards as its to emotionally stressful for me and Ive told him that I will not tolerate it any longer.

  • ROBYN

    My husband and I have been married 7 years. I just moved out 3 days ago, feeling like I had no other choice. He drinks just beer, every day, at least 6 most days. Only beer now, quit the “hard stuff” not but 6-12 months ago. Even with the threat of me leaving, and actually doing it, he wouldn’t commit to “quitting.” He’s admitted he has a problem but he’s let me go. He’s blaming me, he says I gave up on him. I under no circumstances want our marriage to end but this is my last resort. Is there still hope for us? Is there hope for him?

  • Ree

    My husband and I have been married 1 year. During this time, he has gotten drunk and left me about 9 times. The last time he left, he was sober but wanting desperately to drink, and getting mad and leaving me was a great excuse. I knew him for several years before we married and knew he drank, but had no idea the extent. When we dated, if he drank too much he stayed at his home, stating he didn’t want my children (13 & 15) to see him. After we married, all that changed. He came home drunk, yelled at them, yelled at me, blamed all of us for his drinking. I have not let him come back since the last time he left, which was about 5 weeks ago. Ironically, I had reached the point of letting him go – I was okay if he never came back. His verbal abuse had escalated to the point that I was afraid it would turn physical at any minute. My oldest daughter can’t stand to be around him and my youngest is like her mother – always willing to give one more chance. Now that I have reached the bottom and was prepared to let go, he has decided to change – attending AA, staying sober, going to church (first time in 15 years), and saying all the right things. He appears to have his anger in check but still does not trust me – he is extremely jealous although I have never cheated on him (his ex-wife did). I know only time will tell if this is real, but even if it is, I am so scared to do it all again. And how long do you wait to see if it is “real”? Every time he left and came back, it was with promises to change, which never lasted. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

  • Beth

    I am in the same situation. I am so torn between leaving and staying. I ask myself every day why I put up with the mental agony that he puts me and the kids through. I ask this question…What is healthier for the children when you are living with a functioning alcoholic? To stay and protect them from being alone with the alcoholic or to leave and risk them being in the car while he is drinking…or home passed out and unable to respond to an emergency. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  • Beth

    Ree, I have been through this too. A year ago, I was at the point you were at. My husband got so drunk and yelled and screamed at me horrible things…and then told the kids (ages 5 and 9 at the time) that he was leaving me because I was a bad wife. I was so angered by this, but I remained calm and let him leave. In the 3 days he was gone, I was at 100% peace with it. I was done. My husband came crawling back though and did all the things you are describing. An outpatient rehabilitation treatment program, AA every night, counseling etc. Life was OK, but it never had the chance to continue improving because he relapsed once the holidays approached. He’s been strugling every day since and I regret not moving forward with the separation last year. I could be out of this relationship at this point. He is now back to denial again. Stating he can have 2 beers and be fine, yet his behavior is SO irratic that it is embarrasing. He stormed out in anger at our Thankgiving Dinner at my families house and still isn’t home now. He is on his way though, (3 days later) and I am paralized with fear. Only you can make up your mind what is best, but your children (and mine) deserve a peaceful childhood and unfortuantly, with an alcoholic step-parent…they are not going to get it. One more thing…my oldest who is 18 now…has decided it is easier to be gone and at friends houses than to be with us. He wouldn’t even spend Thanksgiving with us. Ask yourself where you want your daughter to be in a few years…with you or avoiding the alcoholic. Good luck. You are in my prayers.

  • Beth

    Lori,
    I’m not sure when you posted your comment, but I know what you mean about leaving the children unattended with him. I feel the same way! It is the ONLY reason I stay. Have you gotten any advice? Let me know if you did. Good luck!

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    To Beth, Ree and every other mother who is torn between leaving or staying.

    Your kids’ emotional health is far more dependent on how well you parents handle conflict than on whether you are together or apart. If he is verbally or physically abusive towards you, get out for the sake of the kids.

    When your daughter grows up,would you want her to stay with an abusive man no matter what? If your answer is “no,” then don’t model that behavior for you children.

    My book will help you sort this out.

    Neill

  • Ree

    Dear Dr. Neill and Beth,

    Thank you for your responses to my post. Since my last post, my husband has decided that AA is not for him and has stopped going. I understand that not everyone benefits from that type of program, and he is a very private person, so it does not surprise me. He is still being very active in church and says that being there is all he needs. He swears he has not been drinking at all and that his whole attitude has changed, that he understands where all the anger came from and knows how to control it since the alcohol is gone. I am really doubtful that 15+ years of alcohol abuse has been “fixed” (his word) in 10 weeks, but he believes it. He does not understand why I can’t just forget about the last year of verbal and emotional abuse – after all, it wasn’t his fault, it was the alcohol. He doesn’t seem to comprehend that he is the one that decided to drink the alcohol.

    I still feel so torn about what to do, but my girls and I have finally started getting our relationship back and I don’t want to risk it. I still love him, and I feel like a coward for not being willing to take a chance, but if he comes back and this blows up again, I don’t know that me or my children can take it. I feel like no matter what choice I make, I hurt the people I love. There really is no easy way out.

  • Ree

    Beth,
    Thank you for the prayers and please know that you, and anyone else in this situation, are in mine. I hope that you and your 18 year old can mend your relationship. My oldest daughter (soon 16) tried to move out the last time I let her step-father come home, but her daddy refused to let her stay with him – said she needed to learn how to deal with it. That was a real wake-up call for me. I was so busy trying to earn my husband’s trust and respect (which I should have had to start with) that my daughter no longer trusts me to keep her safe emotionally. I’m trying to do everything I can to undo the damage I have caused, but it is a slow process. Good luck with your son – I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  • Barb

    I imagine hundreds, if not thousands, of spouses/partners are reading this site today. I used to believe the holidays brought out the best in people but after 20+ with an alcoholic I realize the holidays bring out the worst. It dawned on my yesterday why I hate to host Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners; why I don’t decorate for the holidays; who would when the holiday is always spoiled?

    Yesterday, I found the courage to do what’s best for me: I told my husband to leave my home. That I did not want alcohol in my house, basement or garage. Emotionally, I left him months ago as I conscientiously took steps to rebuild my life without him in it. Now that is paying off for I feel I can have a better life that does not pinge on his presence. It has not been easy. As a matter of fact it’s been heartbreaking. Who wants to believe that a drinking spouse will choose booze over the relationship? That’s the worst! But it is true. The alcoholic always chooses boose over you, and will always do so.

    I knew my marriage was ready to be dissolved when I admitted to myself that if I had to do it all over again I would not marry him. Talk about a huge breakthrough. You might “think” that thought…but until you actually say those very words out loud to yourself, and then to a trusted friend, you aren’t ready to leave the marriage.

    I’m torn between feeling hopeful that I can lead a fulfilling life as I turn 47 and feeling that I’ve wasted 20 years on a life of arguing, heartwrenching exchanges, and relationships ruined. If you are reading this please say a prayer for me so I can make it to the next stage with my sanity in tact.

  • Good luck to you.

  • ROBYN

    He’s finally REALLY admitted it. He even called and told his parents. What do I do now? How do I support him without shoving AA, ect. down his throat? I’ve been living w/my parents for 3 months and I don’t feel it would be right to rush home…even though he wants me there for support and motivation. What is my role?

  • brukewilliams

    There is nothing that stresses a marriage more than alcoholism. It isn’t an occasional drink we’re talking about, here, but a third party to the relationship, with more influence in the alcoholic’s life than the spouse. Alcoholism alters the marriage, often adding violence and risking the lives, careers and health of everyone. Many marriages and families have survived alcoholism, but, unless recovery is maintained, none thrive.
    —————-
    Brukewilliams

    Alcoholism Information

  • Juliana

    So my feeling as far as alcoholism and marriage goes is this: if there is any kind of abuse involved, that you leave – without question!! Putting your (and your children’s) lives at stake is a risk you just cannot take. And if you find it difficult, just think of the kids and the harm you’re doing them by leaving them exposed to that kind of environment. You may not be responsible for your husband or wife’s drinking, but you are responsible for leaving your kids. ——————————————– Juliana url="http://www.alcoholisminformation.org”DoFollow/url

  • Amy

    My husband is also a highly functioning alcoholic. Although he’s not physically violent towards me. I think I have been suffering from a form of emotional abuse that has left me feeling very uncertain about many thing I once took for granted. I am now even questioning my husband’s true sexual orientation.

    We’ve been married for 9 years and the first year of our marriage was fantastic. Although he drank, it wasn’t a major problem as far as the marriage was concerned. He worked away from home a lot and I knew he drank more during those times but when he was home he seemed to be able to control his drinking. The problems for me started out of the blue when I organised a surprise weekend away to celebrate our first anniversary. He knew I had something nice planned but when the time came, he just didn’t come home from work that weekend. He was working interstate and chose to stay and attend a lunch with some male work colleagues. He didn’t phone me or get anyone else to phone, he just didn’t turn up.

    Shortly after that, we were asleep one night and I rolled over and accidently touched him, he sat bolt up right, got straight out of bed and angrily accused me of ‘fiddling’ with him. He always sleeps with very tight underpants on and I if I were asked to give a description of his body I would be at a loss because I’ve hardly ever seen him fully naked since our first year of marriage. The has been no intimacy since then. I have tried to get him into counselling and when I asked him to please come to counselling after our second anniversary, he said the problem wasn’t me but due to the pressures of his work (and problems with his family) He felt they were just too great for him to deal along with with issues surrounding intimacy as well. He asked me to please wait until he retires, which was six years in the future and then it will all be alright. I love my husband and so I waited and believe me it just about sent me batty! He’s been retired now for almost almost two years and instead of improving the problems surrounding intimacy have deepened.

    I am his second wife and I now know he and his first wife slept in separate bedrooms for at least the last the last ten years of their marriage. He says that’s why the eventually broke up but he won’t discuss it any further than that.

    I have tried to get counselling for us in the past but it only made matters worse. The couple of times when I’ve raised the issue since he retired, he’s become very angry and taken to hitting himself, smashing his watch (he’s done that twice) or the most frightening of all, he’s gone to the kitchen, picked up the large butcher’s knife and threatened to cut his penis off. This was all the more frightening given his hang ups around me seeing him naked, in the shower, on the loo etc and vice versa. He says it makes him feel dirty.

    This all got too much for me a few months ago and so I moved into our second home, ten miles up the road from him. As a result of my moving out, he’s started drinking even more and has now completely shut down emotionally. He absolutely refuses to speak about our marriage except for basics things like investments etc. the milk bill etc. I even went as far as to outline my understanding of what a marriage of convenience was and asked him is that’s what he felt comfortable with and he thought that sounded just fine because again, he felt I was rushing him. I am in a state of shock. Nine years and I’m rushing him? He said he would see a counsellor (he’s said that before and never done anything) and so I said I would leave it a month and then we discuss the details of either where we go from here or how we separate. He felt one month was too short a time and so we agreed on three months. The relief in his voice was palpable. Not wishing to sound too pessimistic but I’m not holding out much hope that he will have shifted or changed any by then.

    I must admit I have wondered if maybe my husband is actually repressing a homosexual orientation. I have asked him in the past but he adamantly denies he is.

    I have been attending Alanon meetings and am finding them very helpful regarding the nature of the disease of alcoholism. But I also get the feeling he could be using alcohol as a self medication for deeper problems.

    I seem to have come to a dead end in seeking information or advice on how help my husband and I and hopefully our marriage. I worked with a counsellor in the lead up to us retiring but we couldn’t go any further with regard to issues surrounding intimacy because my husband would refuse to engage in couples counselling or throw up other crises with his family etc, that continually took the focus away from our problem. The counsellor was a great help for me and I think it’s as a result of working with her that, when the time came, I was able to move out and at least start attempting to move on with my life.

    I should point out that in terms of intimacy, it’s not just a lack of physical intimacy that was withdrawn. There is no spiritual or emotional intimacy either. Apart from generalities, he phased out many years ago. I could be a strange on a bus. He perks up a bit when he’s drinking but there’s no depth to our conversations. He is very cold and aloof. Also I usually have to repeat myself when I do say something because he seems to be in this little world of his own and is never fully tuned in. I should mention too that since he retired 2 years ago, his drinking had increased and before I left, he was starting as early as 10am and hiding his wine in coffee cups behind the computer etc. He doesn’t do ANYTHING except watch TV and sit in front of a computer and he has no desire to do anything. He blames me for his retirement and says he should have stayed working. We retired because we no longer needed to work and so we bought a RV with the intention of travelling the country for a couple of years. He spent years finding the ‘perfect’ RV. We were only on the road for four weeks before he lost interest but wouldn’t say why. I figured it might be because he can’t drink until he passes out. Anyway he says he doesn’t like it and so he’s selling the rig. We ended up going no where.

    I realise the nature of my query is very personal but I am working on the notion I am not the only wife in the world who’s experiencing this and that there may be some other avenues I could explore. I want to understand what happened. I don’t feel I can let go without some sort of understanding

    I love my husband and would have dearly loved to have had a healthy, fully functioning marriage. In my heart of hearts I know it takes two people willing to do the hard yards to make a marriage work and I can’t make him but for me I can’t seem to move on with my life not understanding what happened. My husband is 58 and I just turned 55. There is still so much I want to do in life. I can’t live in a marriage of convenience any more than I can live the lie of pretending everything is alright when it’s not.

    Thank you

  • How do you know which came first – the alcoholism or the marriage issues? Seems like its the increase in use that has led to the marital problems, but the drinking could also be used to deal with the marital issues.

    My husband is definitely a functioning alcoholic and has moved into the apathy/numb stage, where he won’t admit he has a problem, but says he’s not sure why he got married, that he just wants to be alone, of course, because now I’m making an issue of the situation and he wants to avoid accountability.

    I want to help him he’s sick. He has been verbally abusive so its hard for me to tell what he’s really thinking and feeling and what he is trying to get me to respond. He seems to be a classic functional type, which suggests if he could just start dealing with it some of his feelings about the relationship of 12 1/2 yrs,  might go back to where they were before he started drinking.

    But how can I tell if that’s part of why he started drinking? I want to stay because this new person doesn’t seem like me husband. He had oxycodone for a surgery for a few days and it seemed like the stress of it all melted away and the man I knew was back. He’s obviously overwhelmed by life and responsibility and drinks bc of his anxieties. He’s just not connecting it yet.

    He started counseling and is trying to use her to enable his desire to leave. We had a joint session and I tried to show the counselor how he’s manipulating her (lies of ommision and revisonist history). I think she’s sees but not sure she’s equipped to really help him with his mental issues. She keep telling him to workout to improve his mood and relieve stress. I’m like we are so past that, but its his sessions and I doubt I’ll be invited back anytime soon.

    I’m trying to move past enabling but there isn’t enough info out here in cyber space to identify the other behaviors I’m enabling besides the drinking and how to stop enabling his stinky thinking, etc. Will he see the light? Would appropriate medication for anxiety help instead of his self medicating? He was called a functional at our shared session, he’s trying to cut back on his own but I’m not sure if that’s making it worse or not. Its so hard to separate fact from fiction. He blames his inability to focus at work on the marriage, not his crazy lifestyle.

    Am I holding out too much hope that once this alcoholic idea finishes creeping in and he addresses it that some of these symptoms will improve?

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Alice,

    It’s often very difficult to tell which came first. However, it is highly probable that the emotional/mental problems are at the root of the problem, and they likely go back a lot further than 12 1/2 years. As he deals with them, the drinking my fade away. Anxiety medication, also highly addictive, may provide some “living space,” but it provides no insight and won’t remove the underlying problems.

    If he has developed an alcohol dependency, this may require some treatment too.

    You raise a third possibility, that he is just unhappy in his marriage and doesn’t know how to leave without feeling like even more of a jerk. If this is in the mix, and he is getting good counseling for the underlying issues, he should become clearer about what he wants in life.

    I’m glad he is working on his stuff. Read the articles on codependency on this site. It may help you get more clarity on areas you may be contributing. The book will give you a lot more help.

    Your focus needs to be on you, your well being, your life. You will look back at this time as one of the darkest in your life. I’m sorry you have to go through it.
    Neill

  • Karen

    I am on the verge of leaving my alcoholic husband – we have only been married for 3 months , with hindsight a mistake. I cannot take the anger and being blamed for everything that goes wrong in his life anymore. The straw that broke me was a weekend with his son where he was drunk constantly – unacceptable in my eyes … please give me hope there is light at the end of the tunnnel ??

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Karen,

    I think you know that none of this is your fault. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel leads away from the marriage. You have walked into a marriage with a full-blown alcoholic. There is no foundation to build on, so you have nothing to lose by leaving, except a false pride. When the dust settles, you will be proud of yourself for leaving. Don’t wait for the pain to get worse.

    There is always hope for a fulfilling life.

    You have my best wishes for the good life you seek.

    Neill

  • Kurt

    Karen, I am in the exact same situation. I have been married just over 3 months to an alcoholic. She has struggled for years, but it has become unbearable the last couple of months. Unfortunately, her rants have rolled into the times I have my children, mostly in the form of anger about their mother. This is unacceptable.

    I moved out about a week ago. A few days ago she acknowledged her problem and sought help through a program at the hospital. She wants me back, and I miss her desperately. But I can’t go back, no matter how much I love her. And I do love her. But I can’t afford having my kids seeing or hearing inappropriate behavior.

    I am grieving for the loss of the one I love. I can only hope for her sake that she can make a full recovery. But I can’t be a part of it due to my having children whom I love more than anything and will always protect.

    I just hope I am doing the right thing. My head tells me I am. But my heart is screaming to go back.

  • sharon

    Hey Kurt

    I feel the exact same way, the is the first time in my life I going with my head and not my heart. Alcohol is a curse, how true if we have been unfortunate enough to fall in love with an alcoholic. The future is extremely sad. We lose are ourselves in denial that the problem is not that bad. We do everything to cover up and even lie to others so they wont worry about us. I havent told anyone half of the crap that I have gone thru with my husband. I told him in the last few weeks that I didnt want to be married anymore, I lived in hope that he might say I’ll change shaz, but he didnt. He tries, and acts nicely and makes me think that it will be different, but then he goes and asks can I drop him to the club. He drinks everyday, lives downstairs and I know nothing will change.

    I have changed for some reason. The rose coloured glasses fell off, and I saw my marriage for what it really is. We used to have the best sexual relationship together, but things were always dependent on if he was drinking, how much he had had, etc etc. It has been so hard to tell him I am moving and selling the house, but if I stay, the next 14 years will be the same as the last, and I just cant do it anymore.

  • Heidi

    Hello Dr.

    I have been married for over 4 years to an alcoholic and I have come to drink myself..I hate myself when I drink…I feel that I cannot help my husband because I know he needs to go to rehab, but we need his income..it is distroying our lives and we are not around each other when he drinks, because it becomes an argument..so our sex life if 0000! I worry about the neighbors and others seeing him drunk…

    I don’t want to live like this..I love him very much and want him to get help..what should I do?

  • My husband quit drinking 9 months ago. He claims not to even miss the alcohol. He has not yet quit breaking promises, lying, making excuses for lying and breaking promises, or denying and avoiding responsibility for any aspect of our marriage (emotional or sexual). Every time we go through his entire argument cycle (denial, excuses, reasons he shouldn’t be expected to keep that promise anyway, well if I don’t like it I should just leave, a bunch of yelling back and forth, then he’s so sorry, he sees now that what he’s done has been very hurtful to me and is making no progress, and he’s going to work harder on it, I’ll see, just please give him another chance even though he doesn’t deserve it), because he refuses to work toward solving a problem, unless he’s already tried every last way he can come up with to assert that he should not actually bear any responsibilty in that situation. He never keeps the promise he makes at the end of the cycle, but he wants me to act like he has, because he "intended to" and "really meant it when he said it".

    The argument cycle and broken promises started 3 years ago when he was drinking most heavily, and haven’t stopped or slowed down since he quit. What do I do from here?

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hello Heidi,

    I feel your pain. Above all, look after yourself.

    There are alternatives to rehab if he really wants to change. They may cost as much as rehab, but he can continue working.

    I am working on developing such an alternative my self in the next few months. Stay tuned.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Cara,

    What you are describing is the post acute withdrawal phase, or “dry drunk” phase of recovery from alcoholism. I’m sure it must be very confusing when nothing changes except the drinking.

    The real work of recovery begins after the drinking has stopped. Now he has to recreate his life. It sounds like he hasn’t figured that out yet. See my comment to Heidi, above.

  • Barbie

    I am a recovering alcoholic. I have been sober for 6 years. My husband and I have been married for 26 years. He and I met as "drinking buddies’ and continually abused alcohol together the entire marriage until I quit. He still drinks.

    He is what I would call a binge drinker. He can go for periods of not drinking or moderate drinking, but he still craves it and uses it as a mood changer and has been ‘drunk’ in front of me over a hundred times since I quit. I can’t take it. It’s a major wedge in our marriage.

    I don’t do meetings and never have. I don’t want to drink ever again and I’m not tempted by his drinking. I’m very spiritual and have found peace in most areas but this. He said once to me when we were drinking, "if you quit, I’ll quit" and "why don’t we quit drinking…together". I’m just totally turned off by his personality when he drinks and it’s affecting our relationship. A lot.

    I feel like if you’re devoted to your spouse and you claim you can take booze or leave it(he claims this), why wouldn’t you quit for them or at least show some solidarity and not drink in front of them through their recovery. Am I totally wrong about this? I honestly don’t know. I love this man and I hate alcohol. My mother’s an alcoholic, I was raised in New Orleans in a totally alcoholic mentality and family, it is dysfunction at it’s peak. We have four incredible children and I’m getting better every day. I have the greatest relationship with my children and he does too. That’s what makes it so hard. He’s an amazing father and provider. It’s just about us…I mean what about us? I’m getting farther and farther away from him. I just wish he would come on board. "the dysfunction stops here"..that is my motto.

  • tony

    I have only been married for 9 months and seperated for 3 months. My alcoholic wife left me after I called 911 after she was drinking and drink attempting a 90+ mile drive back to our house. All they do is lie and deceive to support their addiction which after much counseling and Alanon groups have affirmed addiction is stronger than love and destroyes everything and all trust. Lying, cheating, deceiving and being so selfish – these are not people that can be married. Remember that. Not even vows matterv to the alcoholic as their morals like them become lost. Tragic and sad. It is as if you swim out to save them all the time. When you feel they are drowning you with them it is over. The worst part is that we spouses can’t save them. ONLY they can. I used to think my favorite 3 words were “I Love You” but they became a desire to hear “I need help”. Go to ivillage.com under alcoholism and read my story on calling 911 on my wife and read all the postings. It will help you too. It is lonely and baffeling. They have no idea of the pain they inflict
    Tony

  • Jaclyn

    There is no way to live ever happily with an alcoholic no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise. Alcoholism destroys the person drinking and the entire family it WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING IN ITS PATH. I have been living with an alcoholic for a year and a half and you have no idea how it has changed my life. Wonderful man horrible drunk . GET OUT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and for once start living your life like I have. Freedom from this horrible disease. Unless the person really recognizes the problem and desperate for help you are 100% wasting your time and will for ever never be truly happy. GET OUT LIFE IS SHORT

  • m

    my heart goes out to all of ye it reilly does ive bin married to a funciational alcoholic for 4 years and with him for 18 years tinking he would change and i love him so much it hurts bur he will never change never he tried everything noting works he comes from a family of alcoholics his mam dad sister and brother all anties and uncles on both sides granny and grandad and now cousins and our own son i think will be the same i no he drinks heavily he is 17 sad i should have left him years ago im 35 now and have had enough i through him out at christmas and he lives woth his parents who now cant cope with him either not my probem zanymor

    i have to put my kids first

  • m

    so i tink if hes not going to change wat is the point in staying till im old and cant have a life untill im in my 50s im very lonely and confused and hurt but im happier than iv been in years im trying to buy my own house now so hpefully this will happen it will cause i will make it happen we as parents have a responsibility to our kids to protect them from abuse and harm and if the grow up like this the will think when their older that my mam put up with this all her life why cant i thats not rite i have 3 fab kids and the come first and i want them to be happy and have a brillant childhood and happy life as kids and when the grow up i cant help my husband ive tried for years i give up hes not willing to help himself for his kids then wat sort of a man is he

    pray for me please to heal

    thanks

  • Tammy F.

    I feel so alone. As soon as my husband gets off work he opens a beer and he doesn’t stop drinking until he goes to sleep, beer cans on the night stand… I crave his attention, his love…but I just go to sleep, curled up with my pillows…alone and so sad. I would do anything to have my sober husband touch me and hold me at night, to be able to cuddle with him and talk to him. I think, “if he would only slow down his drinking, but I can’t see that happening”. I want us to make love but I can’t make love to my husband when he is drunk. I feel lost…do not know what to do.

  • shaz

    Hey tammy I know how you feel, it is the worst feeling in the world. I have lived with that feeling for years.

    I lived in hope that one night he would come to his senses and see what he was doing to me. (There is the key to the problem). What he was doing to me… he wasnt doing anything to me; I was doing it to me. My expectation was that he was going to realise how hurt I was, he would notice all my tears and how my heart was breaking as I watch him consume huge amounts of alcohol night after night. All the nights I waited, for him to come to bed only to find him slouched in the chair, head down passed out. How many nights at social functions he became embarrassing, and I was just wanted to hide. The anxiety I would feel would start weeks before an event was on, and I would start to stress at what I thought would be the outcome. We could never go anywhere that didn’t serve alcohol, and every outing would start or end with a trip thru the drive thru bottle mart. Making love was for in the morning, even though I was a night person, but my feelings were not considered.

    Slowing down, restricting days, having a dry house, drinking light beer, 4 beers or 6 beers, drinking only thurs to sun, I suggested everything and nothing worked. He was drunk the other night as I picked him up from the club, and he said " I get drunk, talk shit and you just have to put up with it", I said I have put up with it for 14 years and I am over it. He is a good man half of each day, only you never really have a true intimate bond with an alcoholic, they tell you what they need to get thru another day and you believe it, because you want to believe that there will be a change and better days.

    Stand up and say, I have had enough, change yourself and love yourself more and more because if you dont you will be still in the same type of relationship in 1, 2, 5 or ten years down the track. It is really hard to detach, al-anon helps with detachment (friends of alcoholic family groups).

    My house sold today I have been waiting for weeks, taken a transfer and moving north for some more sunshine, into my 2nd year of teaching degree, buy myself flowers all the time. When the pain of leaving is less than the pain you get from staying you know you have had enough. I thought I had married my soul mate, I thought our love would survive anything, anything but alcohol.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Living in a marriage that isn’t working is the lonliest place on earth.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Shaz, Congratulations on selling your house.

  • shaz

    Thanks Dr Neill you are right, thought I would be happy to leave now house is sold, but I am still crying. I am doing this even though my heart wants to stay my head is saying go. It has been the loneliest place, it has been so hard because you make out to all your friends and family that everything is ok, and eventually you have to let everyone know that it is not working.Thanks again for all your support, your web site is so wonderful. I just seem to write on here how I really feel and most days it is with tears rolling because it is so hard. Just hope that things will get better and happier because I just cant do this anymore, cant go back now just have to move forward.
    love
    shaz

  • Dari

    I have been married 28 years; he has been drinking since I met him, daily. I know it’s a progressive disease and that is obvious to me. I love him a lot but he is very moody (mostly grumpy) and not "present" once he drinks. He is not verbally or physically abusive to me however somewhat intimidating at times. Also, he did "lose his temper" and beat our 15-year-old son over a school issue (belt on rear), when I was not home. I had asked him and he had agreed, to not use physical punishment any longer. I would call this abuse?

    As much as I don’t want to put the family (we have 5 children 27,22,18,15, 8 years old. Oldest two not at home, 18 year old going to college this fall) through the trauma, it has dawned on me that I can’t change the drinking and maybe I’d be better without him at home. I follow a 12-step-program for food addiction and feel that I am doing well. The drinking causes me daily anguish, I can’t seem to change those feelings.

    Advice and comments welcome.

  • shaz

    Hey dr neill its me again, a regular customer I am. Wow the contracts are ready to be signed and gets so drunk saturday that he is telling me that he wont sign to sell the house. I told him we can be sued as the people are ready to sign to purchase and that if he does not sign he is liable to half the mortgage that I have been paying as I am leaving in approx 2/3 weeks. Found myself a small apartment near my mum and dad, started to pack and hopefully I can get a signature out of him without all the drama. I am so tired and sick of the whole thing, when i try to explain to him that I still care about him he calls me a liar, tells me I am just taking his daughter and that I dont care how he feels. I said if he had cared he would have stopped drinking and been a proper dad and father years ago. He just cannot see how alcohol has destroyed our relationships, and unfortunately it cant be mended.
    I still have love for my hubby, he is not all terrible all the time, but cant live with someone who changes from morning to night.
    Fingers crossed he will sign the contract, it is so hard to negotiate with a drinker.
    Shaz

  • shaz

    contract signed on house and delivered to solicitor. Had such mixed feelings, in one way it is liberating I will be free to live in a house without worrying about whether my husband will be crying or angry once he started his drinking for the day. He keeps telling me I am sorry, I know I drink too much. He says I am not a bad husband, and he thinks because he never cheated on me that that is the only qualification needed. I said I am so tired of doing everything, caring for the children, shopping, cooking, cleaning, working full time, and doing a degree part time while he sat in his chair watched the austar and drank beer. Hello….. I have been so strong and have not backed down, I had to give him $20,000 out of our house money and the leather lounge, and I know he will just waste the money on beer and gambling. It is sad to end a marriage, any marriage but when a marriage has to end due to an addiction to alcohol which seems such a simple thing to do and just stop. It is a drug which is poisoning their minds, and I will not stay and watch him deteriorate any further. Scary to be totally alone, however he left me every day on the grog anyway so it really is no different. Anyway thats me for today, packing and getting boxes. Have not found a place to rent yet, no where wants to take me and my sausage dog and fluffy cat, two kids also, It is the pets that no one likes, will keep looking. I know there will be days that I will miss my hubby heaps, as the hard part is that I still love him heaps. But just cant live with him anymore….

  • mother of 4

    i am married to a functioning alcoholic, we have been together for 9 years and he has drank for all those 9 years, we have 3 boys and a daughter and i have to say that i am very concerned about what the children are learning by watching their father drink and play on the computer until 4 or 5 am. i have to employee a babysitter because he is sleeping until 5 or 6 in the evening because of his drinking. last year we where seperated for almost a year and i went back because the company i was working for closed down with no notice and i could not do it by my self. i regret everyday that i went back but i do love him alot. he’s a great dad and husband when he’s sober but he’s never really sober because he drinks everynight. i left a few weeks ago and told him that i and the kids would be gone if he went back to the whiskey and what do you know about a week later he’s back on the bottle i know i have to stick to my word but it’s so hard. when he asks to expalin why i’m leaving and want a legal seperation he says that he’s stayed by me through my anger issues which i will addmit i do have a temper so i should stay with him while he’s cutting back on drinking. i have suggested aa and he refuses to go saying that he will do it on his own. i know he cant do it on his own though no alcoholic can. i really need some reassurance that what i’m doing is right and i shouldnt feel like i have to stay with him because when i leave he has nowhere to go. his family is sick of him and refuses to take him in and the vehicle we have is in my name. he will be hitting rock bottom with nothing if i go and i need to know that it’s not my fault.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Mother of 4

    It is not your fault. It never has been. It’s his choice, but, true to form, alcoholics seldom look inside for the real reasons for their drinking.

    Set a good example for your children by taking care of yourself.

  • bee

    Hi Tammy S

    I have lived in this same situation for 4 years of marriage. The lonliness is unbearable and tore me apart.I was so sad and depressed. I started therapy last year and realized that I have been hiding out with him, instead of living my life I just come home from work and watch him drink himself stupid-I never went anywhere or saw anyone, for 3 years. In therapy I realized that I had to start living a life…nothing major, just dinner or a movie here and there with a friend or family member. He has lost his mind about that, because I am "giving my attention" to other people. The irony is that I wanted his attention so desperatly it broke my heart..but all his attention is for his beer. He has lost 20lbs this last year by not eating(he drinks instead of eats-he’s in an unhealthy weight range now)and has now become even more hostile when drunk, because I am trying to make myself healthy and he resents it. I am realizing ever so slowly that there is nothing I can do, nothing will get better if he doesn’t and he has no intention of getting better. I am trying very hard to get to the point that I can leave- I want a healthy marriage but I am coming to accept that is not going to happen.

  • Paula

    Hi,

    I am married to what you call a functioning alcoholic. We have been married for 21 years. He always had a problem with alcohol but tended to only drink at weekends during the first few years of marriage. The last 2 years have been dreadful. I started finding empty vodka bottles about 8 years ago. When he went out weekends he seemed to drink a bottle of vodka first. It got to the stage that I would not go out with him. He has given up the drink for a few weeks and then back on it. Went to AA for about 3 weeks and said it wasn’t for him (all about God etc). He did go to his doctor and was prescribed anti-abuse tablets. I tried to support and help him but he knew every trick in the book. He swapped the tables with something else or refused to take them. Once he even ended up in hospital as he took drink with the tablet. That didnt even frighten him into giving up. He has and still is verbally abusive and I just want out of this marriage now. I am at my wits end and dont know what to do. I have my brother and nephew living with me. He seems to use them as a weapon and has told them he wants them out. He is blaming them for his marriage breakdown. I cannot afford to move out and rent and pay my share of the mortgage. I know I will have to make the move and go see a Solicitor. I have even asked him if I could buy him out but he refuses. He seems to be under the illusion that once my brother and nephew move out we will get back together again. But if Im honest I have had enough. There is no way that our marriage can be saved. I really dont know what I am going to do. Im getting snappy with everyone and am finding it hard working.

  • Kim

    It was booze at first. And dip. Yuck. I always hated that. But I liked his bad boy image. Twenty-nine years and scores of tears later, I find myself asking why I bother. He’s addicted to porn which I find both disgusting and a relief. He’s addicted to a variety of meds and healthy concoctions. His twice daily showers are nearly 30 minutes each. I find myself loathing the air he breathes. But I desperately hang on to the kind times and little things he does that almost brighten my day. I am going crazy. I’m tired. The marriage counselors all 3 times we tried (many sessions with each counselor) helped me temporarily to realize it was all my fault. But they were as manipulated by him as I have been. I just wish I knew what to do. I got him through college and went on to finish grad school myself. We both have decent jobs but in this economy who knows how stable they are. Out kids are almost out of the nest. I’m sorry to ramble.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Paula,

    The brother and nephew are just excuses to keep doing what he’s doing. If they leave it will be back to blaming you. Of course he refuses to let you buy him out, because that would mean change.

    You are under no obligation to have an unhappy life. But it is up to you. You are NOT responsible for his drinking, but you are 100% responsible for how you decide to live your life.

    If this is a bad day to decide to leave and to see a lawyer, why would you expect any other day to be a good day? Just do it.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Kim,

    Please read what I said to Paula. You do know what to do, but going ahead and doing it can be scary. We hear a lot about “denial” in the world of alcoholism. So keep in mind that delay is the ultimate form of denial.

  • Paula

    Made the first move yesterday. Went to see a solicitor. He is drafting a letter for my husband explaining that I want a separation. Have to say that it was very scary but I know I am doing the right thing. Brother and nephew and going to move out to ease the tension. He asked his brother to ring me and ask if I would give it another go but I said know. He said he was devasted but then starting blaming my brother and nephew again (no change there then). His brother thinks I have done the right thing and he will keep on at him to end the marriage amicably. Hopefully he will get the message and move out and sell his share to me. Either way I have to wait till January to apply for a judicial separation as you have to be 12 months separated (even though living under the same roof). I will just have to keep myself busy and out of his way until it is all sorted but I do feel as if a weight has lifted from my shoulders now that I have taken the first step altough I know I have a few tough months ahead of me and to be honest I’m really sad about it but I am lucky in that I have a good understanding family, good job and a social life if I wish. I always thought I would be married for life. It’s amazing reading comments from other people – really brings it home that you are not the only one going through this. Anyway, hopefully he wont explode too much when he gets the letter from my solicitor.

  • Paula

    Dr. Neill

    I went to see a solicitor. very upsetting to say the least. Anyway he in turn sent my husband a letter informing him that I want a separation etc. Im at home in the bedroom now (monday night). He just got in from work and read the letter. To say it knocked him for six is putting it mildly. He came up to me and begged me to speak to him. He got down on his knees, was crying and promised that from here on in he would never touch a drop. He said he will go to meetings every night of the week if I want him to. I told him that I didnt love him anymore and he said that he would work on getting that back. His voice was shaking so much that he could hardly speak properly. I know he is back on his anti-abuse tablets (his bother is giving them to him every 2 days now). I feel like my head is ready to explode. I wasnt expecting this from him. At the very least I thought he would fight me over the letter or laugh. I really dont know what to do now. On one hand I feel sorry for him and on the other I dont know if I do love him. I asked him how could he want to stay with me when I told him I dont love him but he said he could change all that. Problem is can I. Im so mixed up. sometimes I wish I could just disappear.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Paula,

    Congratulations on your courage to take action. You have taken him back emotionally every time he went too far in the past, so why should he expect other than you will forgive him again. The stakes are higher this, so his begging is more extreme. Furthermore he is still making the probem about you: “He said he will go to meetings every night of the week if I want him to.” He has given no indication that he will do whatever it takes to beat his alcoholism, with or without you. And groveling to be with someone who says she doesn’t love you is pretty pathetic. He would be resenting you again in no time.

    Go ahead with your separation plans. If you still have a glimmer of hope, tell him you will wait two years (apart), and if he has been completely clean during that time and has taken the lifestyle steps to make it permanent, and if neither of you are in a new relationship, and if you both are still interested, you would be willing to talk with him.

    The problem is, Paula, sometimes relationships pass a point of no return. And people seldom make real change if their motivation is to control another person, in this case, you. Real change comes from within. Remember too that while you may operate your life in good faith, most alcoholics are master manipulators.

    Be strong.

  • Paula

    Dr. Neill

    Thanks for those words. I know if I stay with him it is through pity. I just cannot see myself trusting him again or even getting intimate. I have got so use to being on my own and independent of sorts. But my heart feels like it is jumping from my body and I cannot even eat. Funny that you mentioned the meetings. He only said he would go every night when I said that taking tablets was not enough. I think he was only saying what he thought I wanted to hear. Oh my God this is so difficult. His brother said he would talk to him today – so hopefully he will have calmed down a bit and accept that it is over. He never mentioned my brother or nephew so I presume he still wants them out and once they are gone he will think he has a chance. I know I have to be strong. But at the back of my mind I keep thinking that maybe this time he will give the drink up for good??? I suppose I am kidding myself but some people do recover.

  • marg

    Hi Shaz, Thanks for sharing your story…it struck a cord with me..I’ve been married for 12 years and with him for 18 years…we have a 2 year old daughter and I’ve had heart wrenching times over the years but since having my daughter it seems so much worse…I love him with all my heart, but his drinking has become unbearable..he’s a gentle man, has never even threatened me…he’s loved by all, including my large family, however, everybody knows about his drinking, get’s mad at him for it but they don’t understand the disease…I feel alone most of the time, our sex life is horrible because he’s unable to sustain an erection due to the amount of alcohol he consumes, he spends more time with his alcoholic friends and our neighbours then he does at home, We separated once before for a couple of months over the same issue but I took him back because I missed him so much, looking back, he tried to attend AA meetings and to slow down with the drinking but eventually he was back to the same…over the past few years I’ve really suffered while trying to appear super strong in front of my family and friends but eventually I got to a point where I couldn’t stand it any longer…I asked him to leave about a month ago and the only contact we’ve had since are a few occasions when he picked up/dropped off our daughter…and this is also a sensitive point because he’s a great father but I can’t rely on him not to drink around our daughter…I’m so sad because we need to talk about this separation and what it means to both of us but he’s at a completely different stage than I am…I understand he is telling everybody that he doesn’t know why I asked him to leave and suggesting that our marriage problems would be there whether he drank or not…I heard the same things about 7 years ago and took him back believing that it was 50% my fault. I know he’s drinking gross amounts of alcohol throught the week, it affects his health, his ability to stay productive and our life. I’ve learned that we are unable to work on any marriage issues while he is drinking..recently, he’s been reaching out in a way that is unusual for him, he’s been making some effort to talk with me but I’m almost afraid to put myself out there again..I miss hime, I love him and I feel sorry for him but I don’t know what to do because living with him was almost unbearable…today, I cancelled an appointment I had previously made with a lawyer to file legal separation papers…I didn’t feel ready. He called tonight in hopes of meeting tomorrow at our home to talk, or as he said “maybe if you’re not busy, we can get a pizza and hang around for a bit”…I was so shocked I just said, “well, we need to talk anyway so alright”. I want to tell him that I love him but I can’t live with him anymore and I don’t want our daughter around the drinking either…I also want to confirm some “separation boundaries”…I’m so nervous and I don’t know why…I’ve lived with this man for most of my adult life, does anyone understand this?? please feel free to offer any advice you have, thanks

  • Jess

    These stories sound alot like mine: We married young, I was pregnant, and he didn’t actually drink as much then. Now, 13 years later he drinks almost daily. His drink is beer, but is talking about working on switching to harder drinks. He is the sweetest man when he is sober. He didn’t even use to be too bad with just beer. There were signs every once in a while though that showed me he could have a problem, but I never realized it until now. For instance about 4 years into marriage, one day he gets wasted and falls asleep with his beer sitting between his legs on the couch. I thought it was funny, and took a picture. I then thought it would be funny to put ice in his pants to wake him up. Wrong move-he jumped up, and said layoff you f—ing Bi–. The worst of it was, we had friends over that seen the whole thing. Nothing happened for years after that, until the past few. He has raised his hand to me, I told him “You hit me it is over!”
    Though he has not hit me yet, it seems as though he comes closer and closer. His comments are rude, and started accussations that I am looking at other men. He has forced himself on me while drunk as well. When sober he accusses me of making him drink, and will hold the beer up making a face at me. I am so hurt emotionally by him. Though I have tried to have intervention with his family, they all but one of them deny he has a problem. I have tried to get him to realize he has a serious problem to no avail. I have finally decided to stay in it for the worst right now because I don’t have a financial means to take care of myself and 2 older children. This year I started college to prepare for the worst in the future. And now knowing his dad has a terminal cancer, I realize there will be no future for my husband to get well. Since he now uses his fathers illness to drink as well. His grandfather died last year and there were a couple of nights he decided to not come home after work. So now I can only imagine what he will be like after his father dies. I want to help him but feel extremely hopless in this situation. He is breaking my heart. I had to share my story of heart break this illness is bringing. You all are not alone and my heart goes out to you all.

  • katz

    I am married 31 yrs. to an alcoholic. Our sons are also, so is my brother and father. My husband works for 3-4 weeks off shore and is a functioning one. At home he pops the beer at 8 am sometimes. Gets nasty w/me and very political. I have alot of health problems, had brain surgery, eye surgery, diabetes, quit smoking (YAY for me); osteo in knees and hips. My mom lives quite a ways from me and will help me. I am so nervous. I have 11 gorgeous cats that I cannot take and a beautiful golden retriever. All indoor pets. Cats are fixed and declawed. I feel and know he is selfish for putting me in this situation cause I will have to take off while he is gone and lie to the vet and put the pets in the kennel. I am afraid he will do something violent. A long tie ago 23 yrs. he punched me in the face. He was in the military. I got up and punched him back and put him in the brig. He never tries that, but he seems every day to get angrier and angrier. I am afraid he will blow. I used to think he was sick and tired of taking care of me – but I would take care of him if it were the other way around. Also he texts some lady he went to HS with. Sometimes I would let that bother me, but w/ his sloppy drunk habits I don’t have to worry. I just don’t know what to do w/the pets. They have been there for me and kept me sane but I have to move on. I am keeping one kitty. I don’t live near any family either, I am isolated, Help I need info ASAP… Thank You

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Katz,

    Your post appeared while I was on vacation. You appear to living with a ticking bomb, so i hope you have moved on by now. We are all surrounded by helpful generous people, but you have to tell people what’s going on to let them in. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

    Sorry about your pets. But remind yourself that whatever happens to them as a result of your actions, they will be better off than they would be if your life ended. Protect yourself.

  • Mitzy

    Hi Everyone,

    I have been married to an alcoholic for 14 years now-together for 16. We have three children ages 13, 8, and 6. Just like some of you, his drinking was tolerable for the first couple of years-getting worse every year therafter. His alcohol of choice is beer. He drinks it morning until night. He urinates on our furniture on a weekly basis, and blames me for everything. He mimics me, calls me names, and chooses the alcohol over everyone and everything. He is extremely intelligent-EXTREMELY. Our children are all very smart, also. He is very goodlooking and charming to everyone. When I met him, he was in college, an Eagle Scout, and so sweet. He has had social problems at work-always placing himself in a position where blame is never to touch him. They keep him on because he can do and fix anything. In fact, I can safely say that he would have made a good doctor-when he was more in tune to humanity. He used to be so kind to me-but his compassion was gone immediatly after we were married. He is very close to his mother who is morbidly obese-so she also has and addictive personality. His one sister chain smokes and drinks 64 oz. sodas everyday-even while pregnant. I am not really addicted to anything, but I used to smoke before I had children. I look back on the early years… We were young, I became pregnant, etc. For many years, I hung on to the “good memories”-probably before we were married until about a year into the marriage. Friends and family knew early on that we were a troublesome couple. We went to marriage counseling, involved parents, etc. I had a violent temper-but extreme patience. Counseling and anger management has helped me. I realized that I had to help myself. I will say that I have been very strong and living with this has made me a rock, but I also feel that this has screwed me up in many ways that I honestly am not sure of. It takes a lot to upset me, but when I get there-it’s bad and ugly. I have been in and out of depression. I have been consistantly seeing counselors for the entire marriage-my current counselor for 9 years now. She has always aided me in my progress-I deep down feel that she wants me to leave him so badly-but she has never said. He lies/twists situations to his family, so they never support me and my children. My house has a lot wrong with it because we do not have money to fix it, and my husband is drunk or sick most of the time. I have kept up everything for years, I ended up puting myself through college-earning 3 degrees-magna cum-so that I could survive on my own and take care of our three children. They cannot have friends over, we have had a gutted kitchen for over five years now-insulation haning out everywhere, and tar paper hanging around the outside of our house. The kids feel a little isolated, but I have involved them in many activities to help. The most recent episode is that he was drinking-I know all of the time what he is like, and what to look forward too. No one else can tell sometimes when he has been drinking. Our family on both sides will say, “he was fine when we saw him earlier.” So frusterating. Anyway, he was harassing, teasing me while I was trying to get the kids ready for bed on a school night. That day alone, I had to leave three times due to his harrassment. I took them to my mom’s for an hour. When we returned, he was laying in bed-passed out with an unloaded gun in our bed. It scared me. I do not want a gun in my house at all. He has a license to carry a gun, but what if he is drunk and hurts someone, or what if one of my children gets a hold of it. Everyone is supporting me leaving. My atty. said to leave, that my house wasn’t even safe for my children to live in. My parents are even willing to completely financially support me-even renting a condo for us to live in. I am starting a new job tomorrow. Everything is overwhelming me so much and I feel sick to my stomach constantly. My car broke down-all of this within 2 days. He fixes my car for me-it will cost me $1,000 at the shop. I still haven’t left him yet. He keeps telling me to file. He wants me to leave him-yet I still love him-even though he has endangerd my children and myself-what is wrong with me???? This is where I hate myself. I have lived with this for 14 years. When people ask me why, I just say that I thought he would grow out of it. Many times through the years, I accepted the blame-now I have know idea.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Mitzy,

    There’s nothing wrong with you. Nothing has been your fault, except failure to put your heart on the back burner and use your head.

    Run, don’t walk.

  • christi

    Lori, I so feel your every word. I have been married to my husband for 15 years. We have been seperated for 11 months now and he filed for a divorce 8 months ago. When we first got together drinking was an issue but i gave him the option of me or drinking and he gave it up. Then years later he thanked me and said had I not made him make the choice he would have been dead by now. We have a beautiful 13 year old daughter and I thought, a happy home, until one night he started a fight and told me he was not in love with me and he left.

    It’s been one horrible nightmare after another, but to make a long story short, I have been loving one man and living with another. What i mean by that is he had a hidden life i knew nothing about. Women, computers, texting and drinking was his interest; not his family. I have been living in this fog since the day he left and it seems every day i learn something new about this man I loved so deeply. Of course, he denies it all and blames me with everything WRONG in his life. Our daughter refuses to have anything to do with him and of course he blames me for that to. Soon after he left I packed everything that belonged to me and my daughter and we moved out. While packing I found hidden empty bottles all over the house. I am still in shock that i didn’t pick up on this. I never once questioned him in his actions. It all started when his doctor told him to drink a small glass of wine before bed. well, his small glass got bigger and bigger and in time turned into 3 pints a night. The few times i attempted to talk about it it ended in me getting snapped at. so when he left he told me i was controlling.

    Anyway i could go on and on with the details but i will spare you. I wish I could have seen this and been prepaired for the down fall. I was so happy with my family until HE destroyed it. Even though it’s been almost a year i still feel as though i am walking around upside down. I’m hurt, depressed, confused, rejected and missing him like crazy but i have learned that i must go on because i have a daughter that needs me more now than ever. everyday is a struggle! Some are easier than others but never the less a struggle. There are days i wish I could climb in bed and never get out but I can’t. i have to push on. Oh, by the way, my to be ex husband is also in law enforcement and and they drink vodka because it has no smell.

    I guess what i am saying is DON’T BE NAIVE. Check his emails, check his phone and text, look in the back of his closet and under his bed and if you don’t find anything, great, but if you do you will be a step ahead of the game and unlike me you will not find yourself caught off guard and feeling like a fool for trusting him so much. It took me months to put everything together and the funny thing is his own friends filled in a lot of the missing pieces. it’s sad really to watch the father of my child and the man i love more than life it’s self self distruct, but remember, you can’t help those who are determinded to destroy their lives.

    You can however, protect your child and yourself. So, even if you plan to hang in there be ready if and when the bottom falls out. You might consider sticking a few dollars back and having a game plan just in case. It is scary, believe me. I just wish i would have seen it and had a plan. Instead i had to make one up as i went along, but that’s ok too.

    God and my daughter and great friends and family have got me where i am now. Oh i miss him and love him and would help him if he called me today but in the mean time life goes on. I still cry myself to sleep some nights and i still dream about him and i am still scared to death but with everyday there is a tomorrow and if today is one of those days then tomorrow will be brighter. when things look their worst, i find comfort in my daughter’s smile. If i can add sunshine to her day then a beam of light has to reflect on me sooner or later. Be strong for your daughter Lori. she is watching your every move, and remember children follow where their parents every move. I will pray for you and your daughter.

  • Diana

    My husband and I have been married for 16+ years. He is a functioning alcoholic who is now moving to the non functioning side. He was not drinking when we married and then we had custody battles over our children and the drinking started. He has been verbally abusive to myself and my children. He has left me two other times and has come back within a day. He had quit drinking for a while and things were so nice. He was smiling again, walking, hunting for birds together etc… He travels for a living and has always had a pattern. He first starts with beer, wants to be home and not away and then it escalates to the hard alcohol. He will not answer the cell phone, or he will yell at me, or he will make up things to start a fight. He will not want me to visit, and then he will get mad if I do not show up. He blames everyone around him for his issues and nothing is ever his fault. He will purposely ruin plans, and has told me several times that he does not deserve to be happy.

    In April of this year he had some sort of mental breakdown. He stated it was stress or a heart attack. We took him to the doctor and his heart was fine. He was prescribed zoloft and xanax. He started seeing a counselor and the drinking started the same day. He was drinking every day and drunk when I got home from work at 2:30. He told me he was never going to stop and I could just deal with it. He promised he was not going to travel anymore, his suggestion, and was going to seek help so he did not feel this way anymore. On the 4th counseling appointment he took the next job out of town and was gone. He passed out twice at work. Drunk every night and this time he was letting people see him. Oh, if I have not mentioned it, he likes to drink alone. The next thing I know he is making up things I had done wrong again and told me that I would not let him come home. He had me come for a weekend and then our son in the Army left for Iraq the Sunday of that weekend. My husband left me on that Monday when I arrived home from our weekend. He has been seeing another woman, yelling at people at work, threatening them, the lies that are coming out of the wood work are amazing.

    He only keeps people around that will not confront him and he is hurting our children. He has stated that our daughter is just a user and has yelled at her and made her cry so she will not confront him on his actions. Our sons are afraid of him and can not understand why he has done this. The last year or so has been the best in a long time and he was actually allowing the kids into his life and heart. Now everything is all messed up. He lies about the girl friend. He will not come home to deal with the mess. He is still out of town working. He calls and says he loves me and wants me to call him, he says part of him wants to come home, he does not want to hurt me and then the next thing I know he is blaming me for our problems, blames others for telling me about the girlfriend, states that I have hurt him. I have been so wrapped up in his alcoholism that I do not know how to function.

    How can this disease change people so drastically? Is the mental breakdown part of the alcoholism? He does not want help and there is nothing I can do to help. I filed for divorce and he is stalling at every avenue, but then says that it is all of my fault. Does it get worse with an alcoholic over time? Is this woman really his soul mate? He told me he feels safe when I hold him and nothing when she does? Is the lies part of the disease? How can he not see what he has done to the whole family?

    Any help would be appreciated.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Diana,

    He does not have a disease. Alcoholism is a choice. Lying and blaming come with the territory, because they help to keep things as they are. He sees what he is doing to his family, and it’s painful, so he drinks more to numb the pain.

    He will continue to use you to justify his choices as long as you will let him. This usually means, as long as you are in his life.

    Drill this into your brain: it’s not your fault; you are just the excuse.

  • Diana

    Dr. Neill Neill,

    How do I let go. I love this man very much yet I am tired of the lies. Why can he not see that he needs help? He is hurting our whole family. Is leaving him the only way to save myself? I need help to be strong enough to go. He is calling our friends and telling him our marriage has been bad and it is all my fault, but then he asks how I am doing, what I am doing, etc…. He is doing this with our two sons also. I can not tell them what to do, but he is hurting them also. I hate this choice of alcoholism. Why does he choose this over a family that loves him and has been there to support him for years, no matter what he has done, and we do not deserve this treatment.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hello Diana, My heart goes out to you. You are right. You do not deserve this treatment. Leaving him is not the only way to save yourself. In fact, just leaving him without doing the personal work sets you up to connect with another man with a drinking problem.

    I have a coaching program, not yet announced, for women stuck in the dilemma of leaving or staying. They come to my location for a few days of intensive strength- and clarity-building, followed a few months of telephone work. The point is, you need to be strong to stay and you need to be strong to leave. (The last client, who flew 850 miles to get here, was still with her husband the last I spoke with her.)

    I also have a program for high-profile people who want to clean up permanently, but would not consider a residential rehab problem for privacy reasons. You can check out that program at http://www.conqueralcoholism.com

    Please call me if you wish to discuss.

    Neill

  • TRACY

    Diana, I know exactly what you are going through. I was n a 26 year relationship. We were very happy in the beginning, it came down to my daughter begging me to leave him. I knew I have wanted to for a long time, but I could not get the courage to do the last step. i am struggling finacially, and now working two jobs to support my children. I still feel so guilty for leaving him ,I do love him still, but I was like a sinking ship there, and could no longer take the mental abuse anymore. I pray to God to forgive me for leaving, but mentally, I am so much more happier, and my children are more stable also… Thanks for sharing you experiences here…

  • shaz

    Hello, everyone I thought I would add some cheer to this site. I took have been part of this web site for many months, going back to february this year you will see that I have written many times with tears rolling down my face.

    Eventually when you have had enough of the crap that they dish out and blame you for you will leave and it will be best thing you will ever do. Think of all the bad stuff, write it down and then put it all together and you will realise how hard living with an alcoholic is. I left 8 weeks ago, moved north, bought myself a flat took our daughter and I do have a few moments where I miss having someone, and I really thought my husband was the one for me. Now I know that you can never have the relationship that you dream of when you are with an alcoholic, dont waste anytime. Pack your stuff, make some plans, set yourself some goals and run.. It will be the best thing you will ever do.
    love to all xoxox

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Thank you, Shaz, for all your heart-felt contributions to our community of families dealing with alcohol abuse. I commend you on the strength and determination you have shown in getting yourself out of the swamp of codependent misery and creating a new life for yourself and your daughter.

    What you say today so clearly is in sharp contrast to your early ramblings of hopelessness, fear, anger, pain, helplessness, loneliness and codependent love.

    Thank you to everyone else whose comments contributed to Shaz’s reclaiming her life.

    Love and blessings,
    Neill

  • Diana

    I understand that we are suppose to be happy leaving the alcoholic. What I would really like to understand is why the alcoholic leaves his family, then the years of lies start to come out, they try and make you responsible for all of the problems and for years you believe it was you, and then they continue to lie and manipulate you after they are gone.

    My husband left abruptly for no reason other than to continue to run again. He has been cheating on me. Now after only 6 weeks of separation he is moving in with this lady. What in the hell is going on. We were not having problems. He had a mental breakdown and is on Xanax and Zoloft and drinking worse than ever. He calls our friends and neighbors and tells them lies and then asks them to check in on me as I will need a friend. He keeps saying he will be back when this job is over so we can talk and now I find out after he has a letter sent from the insurance company that he is moving in with this whore he met on the road at the job. Why does the alcoholic hurt the ones they love? Why could he not come home and at least face me? How do I get my heart to understand that I have been rejected after 17 years and raising our family and making his life a whole lot better than where it was headed when I met him. This is the thanks I get. How does he say he still loves me, wants me to keep in contact with him, to count on him, that part of him wants to come home and then move in with this whore. Yes the words about her are strong and she knows about all of the shit he has been causing and the lies yet still continues to interfere in my marriage.

    Does the madness ever end. How do I get mad at someone who is so sick in the head and strung out on the drugs and alcohol. How do you get closure and move on when all of the crap is still continually happening

    I did not deserve to be treated like this. Our children did not deserve to be treated like this. We have a son in Iraq and John left the day he arrived in Iraq. How can he be so callous and treat our children as if they do not matter. He has completely rejected our daughter and grandchildren. He uses our other son to keep tabs on me and keep him afraid to stand up to his dad and tell him what he feels. He uses the threat of never speaking again to him to control him.

    What has our society come to that this is even a choice for living?

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Ending a marriage, no matter how bad, is seldom a happy time. Rather it’s a time of grief; you are grieving the loss of your marriage.

    No, you and your kids don’t deserve this betrayal and all the pain.

    He abuses alcohol and drugs to avoid facing responsibility for himself and the mess he has made of his life. That is fundamentally why the alcoholic blames others and lies,(and threatens in order to control).

    You have a lot to be angry about. But don’t let your anger lead to irrational behavior. Get professional help and keep no secrets.
    In the meantime, hold your head up and trust that friends and neighbors will see through the lies. Most will.

    Also, be aware that when a marriage ends, some “friends” will drift away, and some acquaintances will step up to the plate and prove themselves to be true friends.

    Best wishes to you and your kids, and especially to your son in harms way in Iraq.

  • Nicole

    I have been in a relationship with a functioning “problem drinker” for the last 10yrs, I’m not sure he’s an alcoholic but his father is a recovering alcoholic. He doesn’t seem to crave the alcohol, but he craves the social atmosphere of getting drunk and having fun with the guys. He doesn’t drink often at home, we can have beer in the house for months and he doesn’t have any, but all of his business partners are moderate to heavy drinkers and it’s a receipe for disaster as far as relationships go.

    When we first met we went to bars and clubs together with friends and got drunk for fun. I had 2 children from a previous marriage and we fell into a pattern of going out when the kids were with their dad for the weekend. Somewhere along the lines he started stopping after work to have a few beers with the guys while I would go straight home to start dinner for us and the kids. Sometime between working FT, doing all the cooking and cleaning and taking some part-time college courses, I started getting resentful at what turned into his social life that did not include me several nights a week at the bar. I didn’t say anything at those times unless he came home really drunk, missed dinner, or didn’t call etc. It progressed into him occasionally missing pre-planned social gatherings because he forgot about the time while he was drinking with the guys or not calling to say he’ll be late, to not showing up until 11pm. We argued about it and it was always the same thing, he wouldn’t do it again, he didn’t mean to do it, he just gets carried away sometimes but it’s nothing personal against me, he isn’t trying to hurt me.

    Things got much worse 3 years ago when he started a business with some of his drinking friends. Now, they have beer in the office at all times, they close at 4pm and proceed to drink in the conference room for a few hours everyday "talking about business" but sometimes it gets way out of hand and he comes home totally drunk, stumbling, slurring words and last year he even got a DUI. That was a wake up call for a short period of time, he was able to admit he gets out of control but he "doesn’t know why" he doesn’t intentionally do this, again he “gets carried away”.

    He goes in binges, he can drink every day after work and still come home in time for dinner but then out of the blue, he’ll have several weeks where he’s getting really drunk several nights a week and misses dinner, doesn’t call or shows up very late in the evening. It’s always the same, he was with the guys and they got carried away.

    I have given him numerous ultimatums, I’ve threatened to leave and several times I’ve kicked him out. He’d stay in a hotel for a night or so and then he’s back with his empty promises and everything is good for awhile but inevitably he always does it again. Over the last few weeks I’ve been more concerned than I have been in the past because it’s really getting bad again. He spend 2 nights at a hotel after one of his “episodes” of coming home so drunk he could barely walk into the house (and he’s driving home in this condition) and I told him this was finally the last straw that I just couldn’t continue to be part of this roller coaster, he is setting a bad example for my teenage sons and he neglects me and his home. He gave me the same promise as always but this time I told him this was his last and final chance, that he would have to give up the business if this continued because the temptation of the guys drinking every afternoon in the conference room was too great and it might be wise to consider removing himself from the situation. He agreed and everything was going well, I think he understood I was serious this time and he gave up the afternoon drinking binges for several months, although he still had a few beers every day, nothing was getting out of hand.

    Then, last night he didn’t come home and didn’t answer his phone (this is what happens when he’s drinking and wants to avoid me). By 9pm I was really worried, usually he’ll sneak away from the guys for a moment to call me at some point but this time I didn’t hear a word from him. I decided to do something extreme and drive over to his office and confront all of them – -however, I had to stop for gas and when I pulled into the gas station I saw his car parked out front and he was in it. I walked over to his passenger door and he was totally passed out drunk, sitting in the driver seat with the car turned off. This was a big eye opener for me, I hadn’t really realized how much of a problem this had become until that excact moment. I was disgusted and scared for him so I proceeded to wake him up, got him to my car and drove him home. On the way home he said he was afraid to come home in that condition so he was trying to sober up before he came home, he swore he was giving up the beer and was going to talk to his partners about the conference "party" every afternoon. Well, I don’t know if he talked to the guys or not but for 2 weeks he came right home from work and I couldn’t smell the beer so I assumed he wasn’t drinking. Two days ago I smelled it on him and said something about it. He said he only had 2 beers after work that day because they had a business lunch somewhere with a client so I let it go but then last night he came home and I could tell he had more than 2 beers, he wasn’t totally drunk but he was ½ way there – now today I told him once and for all this has to be over.

    We aren’t married and I really don’t want to be part of this "so-called" relationship (we have sex every few months, we don’t go on dates or movies etc) and that I wanted him to pack up and leave by this evening. Now he is begging me to give him one more chance and I bought into it for a moment by telling him if he removed himself from the business I would see that as a clear indication that he was serious this time. He told me he can’t do something that drastic, he loves his job and isn’t willing to give it up and the business isn’t the reason he gets “carried away” when he’s drinking but that he is quitting this time for good. He is really making me feel guilty about my decision but why doesn’t he feel guilty about not being able to remove himself from the temptation of the daily “conference party”. He could easily get another job or start up his own business so I feel it’s mostly the afternoon drinking that he isn’t willing to give up.

  • Carla

    I’ve only been married 3 months and I am already considering divorce. Simply put – I am devastated that my husband has already physically abused me twice. We’ve known each other for 12 years and it is obvious to everyone we know that he has a drinking problem. He is the BEST functioning alcoholic we’ve ever known. Despite his issues, we have always been the best of friends and lovers. Our on again off again relationship was due to his alcohol abuse and in all honesty, I had a problem with it too back in the day. Never on the same level as he did/does but I was right there along side of him drink in hand from 10 a.m. to 4a.m. the next day.

    It is so hard to break relationship habits. The last time we broke up (before we got married) I realized I had a drinking problem and went to AA. We were apart for 9 months without any communication. He was living with someone else at the time. I was getting help for my addictions and he was living it up with an alcoholic woman who was heavily into cocain use. Their volitile relationship came to an end and he called me again. I had to admit that I missed him. He was and is my best friend. So we got back together in April for this year. Moved in together in May, he proposed in June (I was SHOCKED) and married in August. By September, things were already 6 feet under. My initial response was to SEEK HELP! I was strong enough for the both of us… and he was not to drink another drop of liquor, beer, wine… whatever. That worked for about 30 days before I realized I was assuming the role of mother, warden and town sherrif. I didn’t like that one bit.

    We tried marital counseling and that didn’t work for him. NOTHING worked for him except the love of his life… Wiskey.

    I gave in. Told him he was responsible for his own recovery and that I would not police him. I also made it clear that if he ever lay another finger on me again I would call the cops and that he would regret hurting me for the rest of his life. So just 3 months after our blissful moment of "I do, I promise… blah blah" here I am… at 8a.m. on Thanksgiving Day looking up websites to help guide me. WTF do I do now… I keep asking myself. "Should I stay or should I go now? If I stay there will be trouble… and if I go there will be double." Do I love him enough to stay? Yes I do. But, why would I want to stay a lifetime when I’m not getting anything out of this?

    After reading dozens of articles on the subject I realize I AM A VICTIM of his bad choices. I’m being punished every second of the day and consumed with grief over something that has NOTHING to do with me. And yet I find it so difficult to leave. Why is that? What is my problem?! I know what my problem is. Its codependency, its losing myself in this cycle of Alcohol because I don’t want to walk away and admit that I made the wrong choice. I don’t want to have to face my family in friends that have known so long what a huge mistake I was making and say "You were so right." No. I’m going to FIGHT for my marriage. Well… what exactly am I fighting for here? An unattentive husband that lies through his teeth and acts like I’m the STUPIDEST chick on the planet? A guy who would rather touch himself than touch me? A man who just 3 months ago couldn’t hold back telling me his dreams and goals for our future but now is so withdrawn that he’s got me thinking he’s involved with someone else?

    I’m not sure why I’m sticking this out. "I love him. I married him." BUT JESUS! This is a onesided relationship here and he knows EXACTLY what he’s doing and seems to enjoy the mental manipulation. Its a power struggle I just don’t know how to get out of. I find myself crying every night to myself thinking "i just want things back the way they were in April" If we could only go back I would do so many things differently. We got married and he turned against me… became his father. My therapist says some men do this. They get married and they turn off as easily as a light switch. You never see them again… what you do see is his transformation into his father. Well that’s definately happening here. His father is a loud obnoxious alcoholic that thinks he is just the end all be all of the male race. Cheated on his wife from day one. And his poor mother is that… a poor excuse of a woman. An alcoholic as well. Couldn’t confront anything even if it slapped her in the face. Fake. All of them. Unwilling to admit they have a serious problem and that they screwed up their son badly. So here I am all bruised up on a Saturday night at midnight on my way over to my mother in laws house. Boy, what a huge dummy I am. The poor woman was in shock. I’m sure it brought back her own memories. Yet the next day, she offers him a beer right in front of me. They have NEVER spoken one day about the incident. THAT AMAZES ME!

    So here I am. Stuck in this alternate world of love and hate that I know nothing about because I was brought up in a healthy household full of love and understanding. I feel like I’m stumbling around in the dark looking for the goddamn light switch. And now I have to go "play pretend" with the man I love the most in my life that doesn’t really exist anymore. I guess I lost him on my honeymoon somewhere. I have to make a turkey and all the trimmings for him while he kicks back wiskey all day. O we won’t be spending it with our families no… he’s managed to see that I’m as isolated as possible. AND of course – "IF I EVER LEAVE HIM – HE WILL KILL ME." yes of course hunnie…. more gravy with that dear? :)

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Carla,

    I know you are hurting. You didn’t plan for your life to be this way. And yes, you have been the victim of his bad choices. But continuing to be a victim is your choice.

    You have described all the signs of a physically dangerous relationship. Your life is in danger.(The emotional abuse has escalated to physical abuse and he has even threatened to kill you.) You are probably trying to minimize the seriousness of this.

    Put you love (It’s more of an addiction to his care than love. ) on the back burner and use your head. Staying alive trumps everything else.

    Parkinson’s law: "Delay is the deadliest form of denial."

  • chris

    I married my high school sweetheart at 23. He was already an alcohol abuser by the time he was 18. I just turned 41 and we have two amazing little girls. He has stopped drinking over the past 20 years- a few times for a year or two at a time.

    It seems like a alcoholic can never be genuinely happy. Years of being a high functioning heavy drinker have completely distroyed any original qualities that made that person who he was.

    I gave 17 years to the success of this person and what do I personally and financially have when I think of leaving? Nothing- other than my self-respect and the hopes that one day I will come across another person who is suppose to be my soulmate.

    How do alcholics get all the control and have you believe your invaluable? As a only child with parents still married after 44 years I can’t imagine raising my little girls on my own. Can I stand years of daily evening’s of intoxification? Chris

  • Kasey

    First this is a great site. I know that I’m not alone, but it can be very hard sometimes. Reading these posts have been very encouraging.

    My husband is not a ‘functioning’ alcoholic. He actually just got fired from his job because of his drinking. Although he would love to believe that he wanted to change career, at least that’s what he told me, until I had talked to his boss.

    I’m in the process of getting my ducks lined up to separate from him. I would love to think that this marriage could work. But he is in such denial. I have always known that he was an alcoholic.

    My father is a recovering alcoholic, and I know that things will never change if he doesn’t stop drinking. I can’t wait around anymore hoping that things will change or that he will realize that he needs to stop drinking. The whole situation just sucks. One of the things that I’m struggling with is that he is a nice guy. He’s not a mean drunk,or a a**hole in anyway. He loves his kids. but not enough to stop drinking.

    I just can’t live this way anymore, worrying if he’s going to make it home at night, or am I going to get a call that he’s got a DUI or something worse. I have to take control of the situation and focus on me and my kids and that’s it.

    I almost wish he was a jerk; it would almost be easier. SO that’s the point that I am at now. I know I have to make the move. If not for me and for my kids. Which might be the hardest part of all.

    Thanks for reading/listening. Take it one day at a time and find courage.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Chris and Kasey,

    You both have kids and you wonder about raising them on your own. Remember this: children learn what they see modeled.

    If you want your kids to grow grow up and
    (a) choose a partner with a budding substance abuse problem, and
    (b) believe that if they marry, they should stay with their spouses no matter how bad it gets,

    …then stay put.

  • Karen

    I cant beleive it’s taken me another 9 months but I finally found the courage to tell him he had 24 hours to seek help or that was it …. unsurprisingly he chose the wine … guess I always knew he would. Although, like Kurt, my heart keeps trying to overrule my head, for the first time in 5 years i feel free … he’s moving out tomorrow.

    I dont know what the future holds, but at least I know I have a shot at being happy now. I’d like to say to anyone in my position, dont leave it as long as I did … things will never change – have the strength to leave NOW xx

  • Dave

    My wife of 29 yrs has been an alcoholic for the last 10. She has been in and out of treatment and was only able to be sober for about 1 yr. in 2007.

    I have given everything I have into helping her fight her addiction, only to be hurt and abused. I raised 3 kids thru their teens while she drank and she embarrassed all of us along the way. They have all grown up to adulthood and tell me, it’s time for me! I have been living with her and have been living alone at the same time. I learned thru co dependency counseling that by catching her from falling, I was enabling her. I used to believe that this is just the trials of marriage and that it will work it self out. I am almost 52 and I want my life back! Seems all the lawyer info is geared towards rights for women, I understand and completely agree to that, but what can, a man like me do? and where do I turn for legal help. I am so tired of working hard and coming home to a demanding and verbally abusing drunk who will not get a job. I feel my heart is so hurt and how she has taken me for granted is just wrong. What rights do I have and how and what do I do to get a life my kids and I feel I deserve? Thanks,

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Dave,

    The legal situation isn’t as biased as it used to be, but it still varies from province to province. Find a good family lawyer, preferably a woman (my bias), and just do the best you can for both of you. You will be released from bondage, she certainly isn’t happy where she is. You do her no favour by staying.

    Alcoholics seldom make the move to leave, no matter how much they want to. It’s up to you to put your heart on the back burner and just do it.

    In your favour, legally is the fact that you have asked her to work and she repeatedly refused.

  • valerie

    Wow! I feel as though we r living the same life! In the begining of our marriage we both drank. But once the kids come your supposed to "grow up". Well I did and his drinking progressively got worse. Its so text book its scarey! After our 2nd child it just got really bad. Cheating (including texting!)Lieing stealing ect.

    I had enough – so january made my decision to leave. To this day the decision is killing me because I truely love him. (Why I really don’t know!) But I do and am now figuring out that I’m in love with the idea of what could have been if only drinking wasn’t an issue. But it is the right decioion bc I can’t change him, I can’t make him love me the way I want him to. It is just simply not fair to put the children in the situation. Better to remove them from it. Which is why I left for them and me!

    After he left he went down hill fast. Lost his job, in the hospital (2x’s) for pancreatitis and almost died. He back living w his parents. Yet he still has not hit rock bottom! Everyone tells me that one day I will be happy. In general I am a happy person but very sad to have been put in this situation and now left to deal with the feeling of rejection. Let me just tell you I have never slept so well ~ I don’t wonder where he is or who with, what’s his mood will be like when he gets home. What a weight lifted!!!!

    So you are the only one to make the decision for your future. Thank you for letting me share. I always felt so alone in this situation. We will SURVIVE!!! God bless!

  • Dave

    Dear Valerie,
    Thank you for sharing, its so good to know I am not alone in this difficult time. Life is too short to ignore what could be and what should be! all I wanted was to be loved and be true. Life is such a mystery and yet such a challenge.I really believe that there is true harmony and true love. What happened to me is not new but needs to be known so it can prevent future suffering. I am really scared of the future that awaits me but I want to believe its going to be better. All that is good shall prevail.
    The way of truth will keep me together and save my tears for the days of joy that await me. It is all I have to keep me alive. Yes, I too will survive!!
    Thanks again,
    Dave

  • shaz

    Isnt it beautiful to have so many wonderful people write about their problems with their alcoholic spouse. It will be my anniversary on this site one year on the 13th february, I could fill pages and pages of the same stuff that everyone else is writing on here. Being let down, abused, thinking it was me, changing myself, Alanon, deciding to stay or go, trying to get him to stop, whinging at him etc etc etc. As written above Dr Neill can see how much my attitude has changed since I left this year and moved up north.
    No it has not been easy, and yes there are days when my heart feels like I left it back on the floor at our last house, I miss the man I thought he could be, I feel in love with someone who is emotionally unavailable, who cannot face his own terrible pain. I did not marry the man that I left, he wasnt like that 14 years ago, yes we had some problems, but the problems escalate as the years of drinking progress. Everyone hopes with all their hearts that one day they are going to hear the person you love say I will stop and I love you and it will all be better. The man I left this year that I thought was my soul mate and would love me forever, has gone further down the tubes, he had a sexual harrassment claim against him at the club where he works, he gets into fights because I am not there to pick him up at the club before he is too drunk, his daughter wont go to his house because he abuses her sending her horrible text messages and she found porn on his computer. The man I married was not like that, so alcohol takes away that person and enablers like I was who fixed everything for the alcoholic have to just put ourselves first and I realise now everytime I get down, that now I have the peace I longed for night after night when he was drunk and out of his head and I have this site to come back to when I forget how horrible it was
    Happy xmas to everyone, it is a hard time of year for all of us
    shaz
    xx

  • Donna

    Hi Barb,
    I am responding to your post specifically because I am exactly where you are at. I have been married for nearly 25 years, but known for ten or so that I would never have married my husband has I known what I was in for. It is heartbreaking, because we have two beautiful childeren together. But I just do not love him anymore, after years of being emotionally neglected by the alcoholic. It’s the lonliest place in the world and I would rather be alone than with him and in a loveless marriage. I hope to be able to muster the strength to leave, and get my “self” back. I hardly recognize myself as I used to be, and the stress is overwhelming, to the point where I feel physically sick. It’s time for therapy for me, and then for 2010, attempting to separate. I will hope to be on threads with you, having a lot in common. Thank you for sharing.

  • judy

    Before I married my husband, he use to drink everyday. He his functioning alcoholist. He currently deployed and informed him that I am tired of his drinking. I told him that life is to short and why care more about the bottle. He stated that he love and tired of the sermon. I thought by being honest it would help. Part of me feel bad and on the other hand happy. I love him and care about him. The bottle have to go!

  • Sally

    Sharon and Shaz

    Reading your comments helps me to refocus my feelings of guilt and remorse for leaving my alcoholic husband to a reaffirmation that I have done the right thing. It took 29 years to do it. I look forward to a better future with a possibility of true intimacy. Please do not wait as long as I did. It only gets worse

  • sue

    Hi Lori

    Your story sounds like mine. I just caught my alcoholic husband texting another women. We will have been married 12 yrs. in March. He too, was sober for about 3 yrs. and fortunately he was sober at the time of my dads death and was there for me. I am now trying to figure out what is best for me and our 4 children. I would love to chat. Read the alanon book if you have one. It helps to start the day w/ a focus.

    Take care
    Sue

  • Glenn

    Everything you said and everyone has said on this forum is so familiar to my life. My wife’s father passed away in December ’08 and instead of being there for her continuously through such a difficult time, I got angry about his passing because I loved her father too so that was the beginning of the end of our marriage and my surrender to the bottle.

    She wanted to fix me for so long but how could she? My only sober moment was for about 1/2 hr in the morning when I had my coffee. She feared driving 1 mile to the grocery store, never knowing how much did I drink. Or if I would come home that evening because I drank a lot while driving home. Hidden in Derr Park water bottles. I was a functioning alcoholic for my entire adult life. Thought I was on the road to being an alcoholic at age 19 and could not admit those words to myself until I was 40. My wife was to be my first and only marriage.

    We had a beautiful wedding filled with the purest of love in September ’07 and here it is Jan ’10 and I have been separated for 6 months. I became sober, finally, before she left but the pain and depression I caused her to feel was just too much to stay in the marriage. I threw away the most beautiful love in the universe because I was powerless over alcohol. As alcoholics, we don’t mean or even know we cause so much pain. It is beyond human control and logic to stop it. I am actually a very intelligent, compassionate, loving, tender man but the alcohol stole that from me…until now. I have made a lifelong pledge and committment to myself and only for myself that I will never and can never touch alcohol again. I really like who I am and who I have become and wouldn’t lose that again for all the riches and temptations in the world.

    Unfortunately, in addition to my marriage probably about to end in divorce, I will most likely be homeless in the next couple of weeks because of a major company layoff. But I will be sober. Head held high and spiritually at peace.

  • Brandi

    Good morning,

    I have been reading over the comments and would like to throw my situation out there for some advice. My husband and I have been together for 8 years, married for 5 this year. When we met we were 21 and he had a DUI, but when we got together he was not a DRUNK, he would have a few drinks every ONCE and a while. His uncle passed away a few years ago and he got depressed about that and started drinking. At the time, we had just moved back to FL and had to move in with his parents until our house was built. He drank but not all day-everyday, since we lived with his parents. We moved into our house Dec 18, 2008 and it has progressivly gotten worse. It wasn’t bad when we first moved in, he worked alot so it was mainly on the weekends. Now since about July it is worse and it seems like he can’t go a day without at least a six pack. and he thinks that if there is anything bigger (12, 18 or 24 pack) in the fridge,that he has to drink all of them in one day. He is not abusive in anyway and he knows that he has a problem he just can’t seem to quit. I am thinking about planning a family intervention but would still like some input. Sometimes I feel like his mother and othertimes I feel like I am blowing it out of proportion. There are good days like yesterday I came home and he cleaned the whole kitchen, did some laundry without me having to ask and other days where I ask him before I go to bed if he will put the clothes in the dryer or something for me and he forgets or passes out before he gets to it. We have no kids, so that is not an issue and we have talked about it and I have told him that if it got worse I might leave. Any advice?

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hello Brandi,

    If he knows he needs to quit, then the two of you are way ahead of many other couples whose marriage is being wrecked by alcohol abuse. He might benefit/be encouraged by checking out http://www.ConquerAlcoholism.com and taking the quiz. If he can’t do it by himself, help is available. Just be aware that many of the programs out there start with the premise that full recovery is impossible.

    Having said that, he may or may not go for the life changes that accompany full recovery. Don’t wait to leave until you’re too old to have children, and, please, never consider having children as a way to solve his drinking problem. You told him,"…I might leave." However, the ultimate bluff is no bluff at all.

    Use the contact page if you want to talk with me about my program for spouses who are struggling with the should-I-stay/should-I-leave dilemma.

    Best wishes.

  • Maria

    My husband is an alcoholic. I want to get a divorce, but he will not agree. The house is in both our names, but I pay all our bills. I am a secretary. He is a very good mechanic and can fix any problem in the house, and our cars. After the love left our marriage, I stayed because I love the house and cars.

    I think I loved him until today, when he agreed that he was doing things just to frighten me. It’s getting horrible. It’s like being a prisoner.

    I have to get out but don’t know how. I cannot get my own place because I cannot afford the mortgage and another place. Also he is very mean and may destroy the house out of malice. I have never nagged him. I just stay out of his way and try and keep the peace as much as possible.. I hate coming home anymore. it’s not a home it’s a house where I shower and sleep. These days he’s turning his hatred on me after I bailed him out of jail ($7000 was what I paid out to bail him out), and refinanced my home loan to bail him out of all his credit card debt.

    Does anyone have any ideas how to get out of this one.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Maria,

    To start with, you are not safe, and nothing, not houses, not cars, not money, is more important than your safety. Make that your priority.

    People into heavy alcohol abuse seldom make decisions, because it is always someone else’s fault. he appears to be turning up the heat so you will wither away and he can blame you for leaving.

    In the big picture of things, your job is to make a decision to do something proactively, rather than reactively. The universe will deliver the "how" as you move forward.

    Take care of yourself.

  • Holly

    I have read these comments, waiting for maybe someone that is comparable to my situation… maybe even for someone to tell me that when I wake up tomorrow that this 7 year nightmare will be over.

    I am sitting here, in my Grandmother’s house for the night because my intoxicated "boyfriend" (of 12 years) decided that verbal agruing wasn’t enough anymore. Evidently my head pounding on the floor eased his anger and fueled mine. Fueled mine that my 9 and 4 year old seen it all. That I had ever thought things would change.

    I work in a jail… have for years and seen this same thing. I have all the helpful advice for them, but then I look in the mirror or even at my children’s faces and I am so lost. It has NEVER gotten to this point before… I have never grabbed the kids and left before.

    I am torn at my next step. When sober he is a heck of a guy, but slowly that is changing too. I am worried that it is too late. I am thankful for the 2 kids we share, but equally as thankful that my trip down the aisle never has happened. I love him, but not the man he is becoming – I don’t know him anymore.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Holly,

    First of all, read Maria’s plea above and my response to it. The danger you are in has already been demonstrated. Read Chapter 24, “When to pull the plug on an alcoholic marriage” for more on safety.

    The nightmare will only be over (in time) if you refuse to go back, and instead move ahead and create a life for you and your children.

    Best wishes, and remember, safety first.

  • Dave

    To all and Dr Neill,

    As you can see I am like the only man who is dealing with the abuse. I called and found out from several lawyers that because I stuck it out with her drinking for the last 10yrs.of our 29yr marriage she is entitled to half my retirement and basically half of my monthly income.

    Like I stated in my previous letter, I am all for, all of you ladies who are abused both physically and mentally , to be awarded financially and to be taken care of by the alcoholic who once stole your hearts. I am ashamed to hear what some of the men have done to the women of this world. I sickens me and I want them to pay for what they have done. I share the pain because I have suffered greatly too and my heart continues to bleed. I just think there should be some help for guys like me who have given everything to care for an alcoholic, only to be beaten down, and now being told that I have to pay! It just feels wrong and like a knife is sticking in what very small piece of my heart is left.

    Believe me I know the world is not fair,but I have always tried to believe that good things come to those who strive to do good and forgive others. Feeling all alone is just a part of the loneliness I feel.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hi Dave,

    You are not alone as a male who suffered abuse at the hands of an alcoholic spouse. Abused men, like abused women, feel too ashamed to go public.

    Your job now is to work through the grief and the trauma and create a new life for yourself. Yes it seems unfair to be penalized for going the extra mile for your alcoholic wife.

    But don’t lie down–you are in the midst of the first step of getting a life again. “A life” is worth any amount of money. There’s no such thing as being too old to start over.

    Keep checking for a sympathetic lawyer you feel you can trust, preferably a woman.

  • mom of 3

    I am writing from the other side of the coin. I am recently married to a man with 1 son, I have 3 children, and began to have a brief but very serious bout with alcohol. The last 2 weeks of my drinking, I do not recall at all. I had full blackouts and said horrible things to those that I love. I have since stopped drinking, got a new job, stopped taking antidepressants and antianxiety meds on my own. I joined AA and go to meetings daily and church every Sunday. I only drank for 2-3 months but paid a trmendous price. My husband left me because he says he doesn’t trust me or have faith in me. I am working so hard to prove this was an isolated incident but i am afraid he left for good. What do I do?

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear mom of 3,

    Hold your head up and know you are following a healthy path for you and your children. Also know that you have a vulnerability and probably can’t drink.

    Hiccups like what you went through do happen in life. Perhaps the alcohol saved you from something worse, possibly a mental illness. Nevertheless, it was just a hiccup.

    If he left over a hiccup, he could do it again over something else. So perhaps it’s a good thing. You don’t want to be living in a marriage where your partner’s commitment is based on an expectation of perfection, because that would be soul destroying.

    Best wishes.

  • Tammy

    I’ve known my husband for 30+ years. I met him when he was 15, me 14, and he was already drinking then. We dated in high school, broke up, and both went on to marry other people. After my divorce 7 years ago I hooked up with him again, and we married right away. I didn’t understand what alcoholism meant. I didn’t know I would be the one to do the suffering. Three months after we got married he destroyed our computer room in a druken rage. A year later he went to jail because he chased me out of the house frightened, and when I wouldn’t come back he was going to burn it down. I took him back on his promise not to drink anymore. He was drinking again in 2 months, but I stayed. Two years later he poured beer on my head and then gave me a black eye with my Bible. Jail stay number two, but after 6 months apart I took him back again. Since then it has just been the constant day-to-day of living with this – the constant lying, the drinking and driving, losing jobs, the arguing. Last year my dad died, and then four weeks later his mom died. He caused me to lose a good paying job, and the only job I could get was working graveyard shift. He kept saying he didn’t like me being gone at night but I had to work! Six months later his truck was stolen when he picked up a prostitute while I was working. I guess that was MY bottom. All I could think about from then on was all these years wasted and wanting him to leave. After 7 months I have finally been able to get him out of my house. I have told him that we will live apart until he either gets into recovery and demonstrates a totally changed life for at least a year (which I do not see happening in any way) or until I am ready to move on with my life. I am making no promises to a man who keeps none to me. I am going to Al Anon and will continue to go for a long time because I have come to understand that the coping mechanisms I have put into place to deal with him and the way I have lived have made me sick too, and I could repeat this if I don’t do the work to let God heal me. I have a LOT of work to do because even after all he has done to me I still love him, which is sick in and of itself. But I have realized that I can’t save him, only myself.

    We’ve both been thrown into the sea of alcholism. I’ve been trying to save myself but by carrying him on my back, and he won’t swim and is pulling me under. I can’t save us both. He can choose to swim but he won’t, so I’m swimming with all I have and at some point I will turn less and less to see if he is following. He wont’ be. He’ll still be out there, treading water at times, drowning at others, yelling for me to help him. It is agonizing watching someone else drown, but there comes a time when you have to realize that they CAN swim and save themselves – they just choose not to grab the numerous life rings around them. A life ring would require that they at least kick themselves to shore, but no, they want to be carried. Trying to save a drowning alcoholic is like trying to swim someone to shore on your back while they are cussing you and punching you in the head the whole time. I’ve reached the point of throwing him off my back, saying “Sink or swim” and swimming away myself. I have a long way to go to the safety of the shore, and once there I might sit awhile and pray for him to swim, watch to see if he will, but at some point I will dry myself off, stand up, and walk away.

    Reading all these comments have helped me SO much because I see him and me in almost every post. We are obviously very common. If you are in a relationship with an alcoholic, don’t waste your time. They are NOT going to change while you kill yourself to save them. That is what they want. It is SO hard to stop enabling them, but if you don’t, nothing will change. Believe me. Save yourself….they will either sink or swim. If you try to save them they will only take you both down.

  • Linda

    I want to encourage those of you who are trying to garner the courage to leave their alcoholic spouse. It’s such a tough thing to do. We deal with fear and guilt and confusion – and if your spouse is anything like mine, they are masters are manipulation. I am a successful business woman and a strong person, but you would never know that if you were a fly on the wall in the home I shared with my husband. I left in June of 2008, and since then we’ve had numerous reconciliations. He admits his problem and has done some therapy, played around some with AA, read books about alcoholism, changed his diet since some theories think that helps with cravings, has taken a prescription to decrease alcohol cravings. But he always goes back to the bottle. Just last week I told him I am done trying because his promises just never mean anything. If you can get your finances together and get away, clear your head, take care of yourself and your kids, you will begin to see your situation much more clearly. Hopefully after you go through the grieving process and enter into healing you will know you deserve so much more. You CAN do this! Have faith.

  • katz

    Dear Dr. Neil Neil,

    Its me again – cat lady. I gave my husband the ultimatum last fall and it all fell apart slowly. Today was outrageous. I was barbecuing some ribs which took a while. My husband said they could have stay on the grill longer after 2.5 hours and I had agreed and didn’t like them. Well, he blew up and was making fun of my voice and whining and said that I b*tched about every single thing – which is not true. He almost made me feel like how dare I have NO opinion on anything. Then he says I only care about having $ to live on when he’s retired and doesn’t care about anyone else’s problems whatsoever. Our son recently went thru 9,000 in drugs in 1 month. It was $$$ his past job owed him. He is getting counseling, has prescriptions for depressions and is sober and drug free 3 weeks tomorrow. Get this: my husband tells my son via text mail (while my son is in the hospital); that he was drinking on the job, ha ha… What kind of father would sabotage their kid’s well being?!?! How stupid! We were going to help him but he needs to stay where he is and get some kind of rehab. They claim he makes too much on unemployment and he has no insurance. He is almost 30 and is staying with some terrific people that are helping him – so he will be ok. I haven’t told my son about this, last year my husband whined to both kids and of course they sided w/their father like I was the bad person because of his illness with alcohol. I need to talk to him when he is sober. I am nervous he will hit me. I failed to mention as I was barbecuing he urinated outside when the bathroom was less then 30 feet away. Kind of sad. So much indebtedness and I do not know and am ignorant of how this will play out. The pets I will take 2 cats and he will take one and the rest to homes. I have to think of me. This time I am NOT going to let him manipulate me and have him make it look like this is “my fault” and he swore he would change. Not yet. Thanks for listening. 5 grueling mos. Still not smoking 8 mos.

  • Marie

    My husband and I have been married for 9 years, together for 12. He has been an alcoholic from the beginning it has just progressed over the years. He’s not an everyday drinker, he’s (or was) a binger. He has pushed me away so far that our sex life is non existent and has been for the entire time we have been married. He ruined every vacation we ever went on. I haven’t enjoyed a vacation in 9 years. He has had multiple DWI’s, been arrested for PI’s, passed out in parking lots, cleaned out savings accounts, destroyed the interior of our home more than once, threatened me with all kinds of things and finally he started going to AA about 7 months ago and I have supported him 100%. He went back out after 3 months of sobriety, but went back to AA the very next day. I have been to the open meetings with him, been out to dinner with him and his friends from the group, had his sponsor over to our home and been very supportive. He will be coming up on 4 months real soon and 2 weeks ago he decided AA was not the place for him and I wasn’t happy with that decision, but the decision is his. Just a couple of days after he decided it wasn’t right for him, he changed his mind. He has been to every meeting for the past week, going twice on Sunday. Even though our sex life is still non existent, everything else in our marriage is great. He came home Sunday evening and told me he “felt different” and that AA told him the longer he was sober, the more different he would feel. I did not think anything of this at all, I just thought he was feeling better. Then Monday he called me at work on his way home from work and told me again he was feeling different, this time I realized what he was saying, he was saying that his feelings for me are different and that if I didn’t fix our sex life, we weren’t going to work out and that I have 8 months to fix it. I walked in the house after work and he was standing there all dressed up and said “don’t I look good, I fixed my hair the way you hate it” and walked out the door for his meeting an hour early. So he goes early and comes home like 45 minutes later than normal. He has been having these secret conversations with his sponsor who, by the way is not married and never has been married, so how can he give any marital advice. Just since Sunday, I don’t know who he is. He is being brainwashed by AA, now I’m thinking the drinking is better than AA. I didn’t create this mess and he should be the one to initiate any kind of sexual encounter, he is the one that screwed it up. Al-anon is not an option for me….I will not be brainwashed into thinking I have to fix me.

  • josephine

    I have been in a relationship with a man who is non functioning alcoholic, it has been on and off for about 9 years. He has never worked and I have been battling with him to stop the drinking I have tired every thing. At the moment he is taking Disulfiram one table in the morning. But it isn’t working either he pretends to take it or there is other explanation.

    We had an arrangement (the last time) that my house is alcohol free zone that if he wants a place to live and a place where he can do his rehab and look for work he cannot drink. BUT he has once again for perhaps a 1,0000 times started to drink huge amounts like 10-20 drinks a night. I have called the police many times and they have come and removed him. Then he would be homeless and hopeless and then he would beg me to help him again. He has lost an eye been hit by 3 buses etc. His mother is very well educated and wealthy she has tired for 20 years. Both of us are full of disappointment. I am the one who suffers, she does not give him money and she will not have him in her house over night. I am a foolish Saint who is admired by all when he looks he is progressing but when he falls back to square one I am just a laughing stock of Sydney. I have and I continue to suffer – financially- emotionally – loosing friends- destroying health my sleep and my social life.

    So I need HELP I have spoke to many professionals and I never thought it was good that he become homeless etc but his mother feels now we have no chose. The police are unfortunately are the only ones I can ring for help – to remove him from the house. They are not so keen any more for it has happened too often.

    He is not violent but he can become aggressive and very difficult to handle. If I ask him to leave for he has not kept his promise he will always refuse to go. When I have kicked him out with the help of the police ( and once with a male friend) he has just come around and called out in the street or slept on my front door.He knows I don’t want to disturb the neighbours. He has been to jail due to breaking AVO’s and then he has been in real danger.

    He pretends to look for work to make me happy I think but how can he work when he has such an addiction. Why do I care ? well when he is sober he is so delightful and caring. So in the end I feel I have the monster and the gentleman all in one. I hope you can help me.

  • Hello Josephine,

    I hope you have downloaded and read my report on codependency, or the the chapter on it in my book. Obviously you care a great deal for this man. But is is unlikely he will change while he’s with you. If you move him out, he may not change either, but then what he does and doesn’t do will be between him and the social agencies that look after people who can’t look after themselves. That may catch his attention and he
    maychange. Right now he has settled into the lifestyle you provide him, and he has no incentive to change.

    You deserve a life. You don’t deserve this thankless caretaker role. Help is available for you. You may be in some danger during the transition. But above all, you have to learn to look after yourself. Mother Theresa devoted her life to feeding the poor. However, she is reported to have said, “The last thing the world needs is another martyr. I always fill my own bowl first.”

    Neill

  • Lacey

    Hello.

    I am torn. My husband of 25 years has a problem with alcohol. He drinks tequila every night – as soon as he walks in the door from work. When he drinks his personality changes. He constantly repeats things and basically talks non-stop about things that just do not make sense. He harps on every little thing and no one does anything right and we are all just big disappointments to him. He gets into a swirling cloud of negativity and ruins weekends, and makes home life miserable for everyone.

    I know that when he is like this, I have no respect for him and feel like I am climbing out of my skin just trying not to show it. We have two young adult boys that live with us, and they feel the same way. We have all basically tuned him out, which just makes the situation worse because of the lack of respect.

    Sometimes I get so angry I just leave. Sometimes we argue about it – whenever I can’t take anymore. I’ve tried talking, tried reasoning and still, here we are.

    Other than this problem, he puts me on a pedestal. He never says a bad thing about me, has never raised a hand to me or our kids. I think he does all these wonderful things to make up for the drinking. I’ve talked to him and told him that I was considering divorce. It’s not really what I want, but I just don’t know how to live with his problem and have no respect in our marriage…..

  • annie

    Just came across this site. Have a few questions of my own . I have been married for 28 years. And of those 28 years I can’t find one day I was happy or my husband was sober. He has cheated on me many many times, has moved out many many times. He is drinking 7 days a week starting as soon as he clocks out from work. He stop’s at the drive-thru, gets a 16oz for the ride home.

    I have no feelings for him anymore. I do love him as one would love a brother or a sister , but I am not in love with him PERIOD. I feel nothing, but hate towards him. I can’t stand the thought of him touching me. He has put us in debt because of his drinking, had affairs the list could go on.

    The question I ask myself is why? Why stay and put up with his —–? He is retiring in a few months and is moving south. And me not going PERIOD. I keep telling myself he is moving and that’s that, he will someday drink him self to death and I don’t care. That’s sad to say but after 20-something years together what we once had (love and happiness) has been replaced with hate and loneliness. Why aren’t I feeling sad about all this??? Sometimes I think I am going crazy lying for him, covering up, making excuses for him. But not anymore. When he starts his drinking I’m out the door. I come home around 8 at night cause I know he’s passed out by then.

    Am I doing the right thing by letting go, living for me, wanting to be whole and happy? Or am I just some nut case who was unlucky enough to fall 28 years ago for a nice good guy who I once truly loved? Can I find happiness again at 49?

  • Dear Annie,

    Of course you can find happiness at 49, and you are not a nut case. You have to make some different choices and then follow though. some of the more recent choices you have made suggest to me that you are tired of being a victim of life and would rather be in charge of your life. Good! Build on that.
    Neill

  • scared and confused

    I am married to an alcoholic…we’ve been married for 8 years and all 8 he drank….he recently started AA…since he sobered up he won’t talk to me and everytime I try to talk to him he tells me he doesn’t want to talk to me or be around me…We’ve had a rough marriage but right before he got sober we really started working on us and things were getting better…now all that matters is his family(not me) and our children…I’ve tried to be supportive telling him I am proud of him, leaving him notes and messages…telling him I love him etc…he quit his job and has completly pushed me away and when I try to talk about how I feel , he just say’s “this is about me now, not you…I am working on me””\…I have been to Alanon and will continue to go…I just don’t know what I am supposed to do anymore…just sit and watch him pull further away…when I bring up my feelings he say’s what it’s been 24 hours and your talking about it again…? Mind you in that 24 hours he didn’t say two words to me….I love him always have though it all…he say’s he’s mad about everything that has happened in our past…I’m not perfect but I have always tried to do my best…we didn’t see eye to eye on parenting things and buying big items (cars, houses etc..) but besides that I didn’t cheat, lie or abuse him verbally, or any other way…I just don’t get it…and don’t know what I am supposed to do to support him but not lose us…

  • Dear Scared and Confused,

    Quitting drinking is a change, and with a big change everything changes. Years ago when I quit drinking, I felt closer to my wife, but she pulled away…and left me two years later. It sounds like your husband may be carrying a lot of resentment about something. When he starts to rebuild/recreate his life, a necessary process if he wants his recovery to be complete and permanent, perhaps he will come around. However, if he thinks quitting drinking is the end of the story, not just the beginning, it may be a long rocky road.

    What you need to do is the same as what you needed to do when he was actively abusing alcohol. Look after yourself and make your life your number one priority.

  • Sarah

    I just found this website tonight after my soon to be ex husband picked up our 3 year old son for visitation tonight. He always told me he was not an alcoholic because alcoholics don’t hold down jobs. So this is the first research I have done and am relieved to see the term “functioning alcoholic.” He comes from a large extended family that drinking is the normal. Thats just what you do. But after 3 years of marriage and a total of 6 years being together I had had enough. We seperated in March. The urinating all over the house in the night, the puking on himself while sleeping, and the financial strain, I just couldn’t take it anymore! I am young and have the rest of my life ahead of me. Not going to spend it misterable with someone who thinks their drinking isn’t a problem, yet its more important than spending time at home. Trying to move on with my life and think about myself for the first time in 6 years, just need to keep telling myself that this is what is good for me and my son and he is young enough that he hopefully won’t remember all the bad stuff! Thanks for the informative website!

  • Marilyn

    If I had to determine what the biggest disappointment in my life was, it would be my marriage. It makes me so sad to realize that. I’ve been married for nearly 27 years and feel I’ve wasted all that time in a marriage that was a fake. My husband hides his bottle of vodka in the closet and only drinks when I’m out of the room or if I’m not at home. But he drinks about 25 ounces at a time, about 4-5 times a week. He comes home from work at lays on the floor in our bedroom in front of the tv with his newspapers and that’s where he spends his whole evening. The weekends are the same. He lays on the floor in his underpants watching tv and drinking when I’m not looking. I don’t want to live my life in front of the tv, which means he spends an awful lot of time alone. I don’t want to be around him when he drinks. He’s not abusive or mean at all, just acts like an idiot, saying stupid things and forgetting conversations, forgetting things he’s committed to do, talking very crudely and watching trash on tv. Neither of us are yellers or screamers. In fact our 4 children don’t even realize their father drinks. They just think he’s lazy. He is taking Zoloft for depression, is 100 pounds overweight and is killing himself.

    I’m angry at myself for not confronting him every time I know he’s been drinking. He acts like he doesn’t know that I know, but he does. I can smell it the minute I walk in the room, and he gives it away the minute he opens his mouth. So we have this game of me coming home or into the room, smelling the vodka and then silently fuming and ignoring him. Occasionally, he’ll stay sober for enough days in a row that I soften towards him, but I feel he just does it to get sex. I’m just so tired of this whole mess, but feel that as a Christian I’m supposed to just keep loving him and praying for him.

    I’m so angry at him I don’t even want to pray for him. But, am I doing him any favors by allowing this to continue? What good will my forcing him to stop do? Doesn’t he have to want to stop before it will work? Our youngest child is 15, and I’m not sure what our lives will be like without the kids at home to give us something to share and have in common. After they’re gone I’m afraid he’ll never have a reason to leave the house…no football games or basketball games to go to. He might just sit in the bedroom and drink every single night.

    I’m just heartsick over this whole situation. I really don’t want a divorce, don’t think it’s God’s will for me, but I don’t know why He would allow this to continue. I am at the point where I think if he hasn’t stopped drinking by the time our youngest graduates, I’m outta here. Or he’s outta here.

  • Hi Marilyn,

    You can’t stop him from drinking. And you’re right, he has to want to stop. But he won’t stop, because there are no consequences to his continuing as is. His problem is a deep unhappiness, and facing it is painful to him…so he chooses to drink to reduce the pain, but at the expense of his family and marriage. The alcoholic partner is seldom the one to initiate change; rather, he avoids change by drinking.

    Having said that, you are allowing it continue. God, the universe, through your body continues to tell you (“sad…angry…heartsick”) that something has to change, but so far you have chosen to wait for him to do it. He won’t.

    I’ve been there…in a 10-year committed Christian marriage full of crazy-making behavior, sinking lower and lower in any sense of self. Eventually, I had to give in to my body, give in to the messages the universe/God was sending, and do something completely contrary to my beliefs: end the marriage. There were awful consequences, but it was the right decision.

    You are facing some of the toughest choices of your life, choices that may shake you to the core, perhaps even shake your faith for a time. God sends us the messages when something has to change, but allows us to heed the messages…or not.

    God bless you Marilyn, and best wishes on your journey.

  • Jamie

    I left my alcoholic husband of 3 1/2 years about a month ago. I am 31 years old and met him about 9 years ago. He will be turning 36 next month. When we met, I instantly fell in love with him. He was cute, charming, funny and life with him was NEVER a dull moment. We went out all the time, drank, went to concerts, he has a love for music as much as I do, we just had a blast! I couldn’t stand being away from him. We moved in together after only being together for 4 months. We got into heated arguments now and then, but nothing too terrible and I was so in love that those arguments didn’t matter.

    My family and friends began asking me if he was an alcoholic. I would get mad and tell them no! We are just having fun, it is our age, that is what we do, we go out and have a good time! We did break up once before we got married and yes, it did have to do with alcohol. The constant worrying from my family got to me and I started to realize that maybe he could have a problem. He would get drunk and say the meanest things but the next day would wake up and tell me over and over how sorry he was and how much he loved me and I would forgive over and over again. Well, I came back to him and then a couple years later he proposed to me. I said yes. Things were just “ok” and I just went along with it. The wedding planning was exciting and I just never thought I would be getting married, I was just thrilled that he asked me after we had been together 5 or 6 years. It was never really brought up and I never pushed it or asked for it so I was VERY surprised when he asked me. We get married and things are going ok.

    Then as the years go by, he starts drinking more and more. Then I am finding empty vodka bottles all over the apartment, in his closet, in his drawers, everywhere. And he is getting more and more mean everytime he gets drunk. Besides the vodka, he is drinking a 6 pack of beer a night, every single day. I hear he is drinking on the job and then realize this has gotten out of control. I threaten to leave him, you know the routine, and then he stops drinking for a month. Then the weird behaviour starts up again. I start finding vodka bottles again. I confront him and he denies it.

    Oh the lying, I just can’t take the lying to my face. It just drives me crazy! He finally admits it and then goes back to just drinking beer every single night and he thinks that is normal behavior by the way. He needs it to wind down and keep him mind from racing when he goes to bed. That is one of his excuses. One excuse after another with him. Anyways, he starts hiding it again, drinking vodka behind my back. I have been dealing with a lot of pain due to my arthritis and came home one night and he was wasted. I asked him if he had been drinking and he then tells me he will bash my face in if I ask him that anymore. I say I am going to bed and that I have enough issues I am dealing with with my ongoing pain that I don’t want to deal with his issues right now too. He screams at me and says, “You, you, you, it is always about you! You are so selfish!” I went upstairs and bawled my eyes out all night and decided right then and there that I was done. I am 31 and life is way too short to be so unhappy all the time. I couldn’t do it anymore. The next morning I got up and told him I was leaving. I am staying with my parents and can’t tell you the peace I have right now.

    I am actually kinda happy and haven’t felt like this in so long, it is a strange feeling but I love it! The only pain I go through is the guilt he tries to lay on me. He is threatening suicide, saying he can’t live without me and then goes on to say that no one will ever love me again, that no one will want to deal with me and my arthritis issues, that I will be alone the rest of my life. He tells me that every time I threaten to leave and you know what, I used to believe it. I don’t anymore, the longer I am away from him, the more I realize just how wrong and manipulating he was to me. Sure, I feel really bad about leaving and I worry about him more than you know, I mean he is my best friend. Known him for over 9 years, but I can’t risk my happiness and well being for him anymore.

    It was so bad, I was contemplating suicide. I just thought that I would never be happy again. I even dabbled in drugs a little bit trying to escape the reality of being with him. I am so glad I left. I know it has only been a month and I have a rough road ahead but knowing I will be happy is so worth it. I do love him and care about him but as long as I am with him, I will NEVER be happy and I know that now. Good luck to you all. I am going to try to live my life to the fullest now and hope he takes care of himself.

  • Jamie, hold your course, don’t falter, and you will find happiness.

  • Stacy

    I never thought I would be one of the people writing, but I’ve been in a 6 yr. relationship, married for 4 of them and separated (not legally) from him for 1 year. I moved out of our house to get away from my functioning alcoholic husband to prove to him that this was it. Almost immediately he started tracking me down, crying and begging me on the phone to give our marriage another try. I have a lease that was up in a year so we continued to work on our relationship. My husband would go to work and do all the things that regular people do, but when the weekend would come, he would be back to his usual self, drinking until he was drunk and not spending time with me. Well just recently my year lease on my apartment was up and just a few days before I was to move back home,he told me that he wasn’t the man for me and I deserved better. That really broke my heart and I felt like my whole world came crashing down on me, yet I excepted it. He proceeds to get drunk in the house that we used to share and hang with his friends (the drinking buddies). Every time I say it’s over and I’m moving on to file for a separation he says he is sorry and that he knows the alcohol has ruined our marriage and that he still thinks we have a chance.

    I’m too hurt and don’t want to take a chance on getting even more hurt than I already am, I knew he had a alcohol problem when we met but I thought my love for him would make him see he didn’t need it…….well that isn’t working and I just can’t keep dealing with his up and downs not to mention that fact that our marriage (sex life and everything) is being affected by his alcohol abuse.

    I am gone now out of our house that we shared together but still feel confused, I probably should except his lying phone calls and empty promises at all.

  • Melissa

    I feel alone although I know I am not. My husband and I have been together 5 years today married almost 2. I love him more than he will ever know but I cant love him more than he loves his beer. He is a very angry, mean, abusive drunk. I have had him arrested for domestic abuse. The court let him off with disorderly conduct. We went to counseling, he did the AA thing (court ordered)and he has gone through a drug and alcohol program (again court ordered), but nothing seems to wake him up. I have left several times after being punched, thrown across the room had my hair pulled out and called every disgusting, vile name you can think of, but come the morning my phone rings with the same old “I’m sorry, I love you Lady, will you please come home? What do I do? I go back where else am I going to go?

    My entire family are alcoholics, I have no friends because of the drinking and I’m slowly losing my kids to my ex. I don’t buy his beer, I don’t get him another one. He always says I’m sorry, I’ll slow down, but to tell you the truth I hate to hear those words anymore. I’m sorry means nothing to me… and as far as I’ll slow down his idea of that is to stop for 2-3 days then get worse than ever. As far as a sex lives goes we really don’t have one. He always calls from work asking do you want to play around tonight, but it never happens. He always comes home and drinks till he falls asleep on the couch We have sex maybe once every couple of weeks and even then he may fall asleep in the middle of it. This is heartbreaking. I’m so tired of crying my self to sleep and feeling unimportant, unloved, useless. I have no self esteem left, I have no spark left, I’ve looked at going to al-anon but he would go nuts if he found out. I have no support system all I have is him, and he has already chosen beer over me.

  • Dear Melissa,

    You feel alone because you are in the loneliest place on earth, in a marriage that isn’t a marriage. His addiction is beer and he chooses to stay with it. Only he makes that choice.

    Your addiction is him, and the fact that you’re still there tells me that’s what you choose. However, it doesn’t sound like you are getting any pleasure out of your addiction. It sounds to me if if you want self esteem, a spark, love, a feeling of being valuable, you’re going to have to choose to leave your addiction and take your chances in the real world. I hope you do it, for your own safety and sanity.

  • Please help

    I am in a serious situation…

    We have a company together and not only do I have to deal with the crap at home but also must field the day to day! So enabling is me. I am worn out and ready for a divorce. His clients are mine as well. He neglects the home and makes promises to everyone and I have to pick up the slack. I’m sick of the lies, being tired and staying in hotels. I spend my nights in Alanon. I need to leave. It’s becoming a health issue….He drinks, drinks and drinks. He has major successes and then feels he can take a week or so off ..he has not showered in a week and has not checked emails or answered calls. I need help. He has not been to work in over a week…..I stopped in tonight after church and he was hitting hard liquor. He knew someone was there. He is cognizant…

  • Dear Please Help,

    With all the business entanglement divorce will obviously be complicated. Professionals can help you get through it–lawyer, accountant, divorce coach, etc. But staying in it is killing you. Can you think of any good reason you should kill yourself just because he is?

  • julie

    Thank you for this site! It’s difficult to express how eye-opening reading these comments is! I married a guy I’ve been enthralled with since middle school. At that time I was just a pretty stupid girl. I’ve gained a measure of success in life as a defense attorney and experienced along with this web site an aha moment – thank you.

    Married this man a year and a half ago and planned successfully to immediately get pregnant. Beautiful girl born last fall. I moved him from a city to a smaller community where his job does not exist. We both have the same dreams of small-scale farming. He has been looking for employment and did work for a few months for a company. He receives unemployment. So everything should be fine……. he drinks shots and follows it up with lorazapam sp? And a lot of beer every night. I expected help with bills but he has not paid a single household bill since moving in. He feels put out if forced to get up before 11 in the morning. He would go off on me while I was pregnant how I had bait and switched to get him to move making promises of what it would be like. He gets so angry and says all these things that I promised and he is right. I have been carrying around this guilt that I have ruined his life despite that I am working insane hours trying to be a good mom and paying the bills.

    I don’t have a safe retreat in my home any more. The other night as an example he was lecturing my four year old about what she did wrong to make his totally uncontrollable dog steal her food again while she is barricaded on the couch. I interjected and he got extremely angry and yelled that this was another example of bait and switch how I said his dog is my dog and he could train his dog if her were not watching the baby (my mom watches the baby most of the time) and how I said I would be taking the baby to work.(even though sometimes his claim is that we agreed that he would be a stay at home dad.) He gets so so angry when he goes off like this. He is completely different around other people, which makes me feel really alone and has made me see the merit in his anger. Any time he gets a job opportunity he finds things wrong with it and gets so anxious and angry. Today I was talking to a client’s sister who was describing to me why she could not allow her brother to live with her. The blame and anger etc. And it dawned on me that she was describing my husband.

    I don’t know how I let this happen although I find my self doubting that I am and think maybe this really is something wrong with me. What about me let myself get in this situation? I feel so guilty thinking about taking his daughter from him being able to see her every night. But I don’t want to raise children in an environment like this. I read on one web site tonight that the non-alcoholic parent can actually end up being more damaging as they are always stressed and unpredictable. It’s only been a year and a half and I feel so stretched and stressed and hopeless after one of his yelling episodes for a while he gets off his ads and acts like nothing happened and if I say anything it is interpreted as my problem. I can’t live like this, but I don’t know how to end it. How do I do this or am I wrong?

  • Julie, you are not wrong in knowing you have to end this. Like the typical alcoholic, he blames everyone and everything but himself. If he were to take responsibility, he would have to relinquish his victim-hood.The alcohol doesn’t make him behave badly; it allows him to. And the continued drinking allows it to continue to get worse.

    We all make mistakes. I certainly have made a few of those how-could-I-have-been-such-an-idiot whoppers. When you make up your mind to save you children and yourself from this mess, you will find a way. Just do it.

    In reading what you say, I can’t help but wonder if you’re letting your approach as a defense attorney seep into your approach to your husband. You may have to switch to wearing a prosecutor’s hat to see more clearly the choices you must make.

  • daniel

    I am in the same situation as you all. I have been with my wife for 4 years, and she has spent 3 1/2 of them in a state of not knowing how bad her situation is or knowing who and what she is. Even after 19 hospital stays and weeks on end of treatment, and is now in rehab again, I am torn between staying and going. I am scared it is going to continue when she returns.

    I hate sitting alone waiting for her to come home for months on end and then for the spiral to start again. I didn’t sign up for being alone. Whats worse is I can see the spiral start to take place and try to stop it gaining momentum, with her fighting me all the way till i have a breakdown. I love her, i don’t want to see her die and I feel compelled to stay to be her rock. I want freedom, love compassion and friendship like we had when we got married. I love being her husband when she is not with her illness but it kills me every time. Trust, honesty, the emotional roller coaster, respect, sexual desire, and happy memories are gone forever.

    Do i stay or do i go? Every one says go, my head says go, but mt heart and anxiety for her health and outcome, in conjunction with the fact that her mother blames her for everything, and will make things worse for her recovery, make me stay.

    I am lost, lonely, in love, blackmailed, obliged by vows to stay. i don’t want to do this any more. I cant do this anymore. Can someone please help me, please!

    All i can say now is that my wife’s illness is not her being an alcoholic anymore but it is being an ANOREXIC.

  • Hello Daniel,

    It’s true; you can sacrifice your life to the well being of your spouse, but in your case it’s not working. It’s possible she continues the self abuse because you support her, and the only way she will get better is if you leave. Sometime permanently leaving a loved one is the only way they will take charge.

    However, even then she may not take charge because of the dynamic between her and her mother. Her mother has absolutely no right to inflict her opinions on you and your marriage unless you invite her to, so be clear with her: “Your opinion of me is none of my business!” Given the substance abuse plus the anorexia, I must ask whether you think her mother is narcissistic. That has been a common thread with many eating disordered (and often addicted) people I’ve worked with.

    You have some tough decisions to make.

  • Jensine Guerrero

    Does anyone have any experience or know any resources for a married couple who are both alcoholics and obviously very invested co-dependents? I have not been able to find anything online. We are currently both trying to get sober and want to get sober. No violence, the relationship is very good, no lying because we are both invested in the drinking. We are both fully employed and have (to date) not had any major consequences to our drinking apart from the fact that we are both miserable and done with it but unable to stop.

  • Hello Jensine,

    There are professionals out there who can help the two of you get out of your current lifestyle and create the one you want. You want someone whose experienced in relationship work, individual mentoring and addictions. With modern tele-technology, distance is much less an obstacle than it was even five years ago.

    I know such professionals exist, because I’m one of them. Let’s discuss.

  • Kelly

    Thank you for this web site. I now know I am not alone.

    I’ve always been a very strong and independent woman – alcoholism has taken all of that from me. I’ve known my husband for almost 20 years. We dated when we were younger, went our separate ways and had families, etc. — I moved back to my current state several years ago to escape a physically abusive relationship. I’ve been married for over 5 years now. Things were like a fairy tale in the beginning.

    I filed for divorce a week ago. I am tired of the lies, the cheating, the betrayal. He was never physically abusive. People don’t even realize how much of an alcoholic he is because he never seems “drunk”. I mustered up the courage to file for divorce and call it quits. I’m not happy and haven’t been in years.

    Now he decides to quit drinking. He blames the alcoholism for the cheating and the lies. He has started AA and I’ll give it to him – he finally sounds coherent. But I don’t think I believe that alcoholism made him cheat. How can you tell your wife you love her all the time, and live a double life. And when caught he now says he has hit rock bottom. He says the alcohol took him over. I think it is an excuse. I am happy he has decided to quit drinking but I guess what I am wondering is……….does alcoholism really cloud your judgement so badly that you would betray and deceive your family time and time again?

    I am considering going to Alanon just to try to understand but my life just seems to have been taken from me. All of my happiness, my spirit seems dead now.

  • Hi Kelly,

    A fundamental characteristic of alcohol addiction is failure to take responsibility for anything…there is always someone else or something else to blame. For your husband, “the alcohol made me do it.” The why did he drink? “I have this disease…” Why should i believe you? ” I hadn’t hit rock bottom before.” (He’s picking up the standard AA excuses very quickly.) It’s a game and he’s a quick study.

    You may get something from a couple of Alanon sessions. But don’t be shamed into staying if you’re not getting a lot from it. In the bigger picture, don’t confuse your grief (yes, grief) with thinking you made a mistake about leaving him.

    Your unhappiness and low spirits are simply your inner wisdom telling you something has to give. As you move through it, you will feel alive again. Give me a call about private coaching through this transition if you want to speed up the process.

  • sally

    just sharing my journey – It will be 1 year this Saturday that I told my husband of 21-1/2 years to either enter treatment for alcoholism or leave. He left. No, it did not wake him up. He has traded in his home and his family (4 children 2 dogs) for a bachelor-party lifestyle. He acts as if he is happier than ever and can’t wait for our divorce to be final. Yes, it is painful to witness the man who I committed my life to, whom I still love, whom I want so much to get well and live a healthy life – with me and our family, of course – choose the path of depravity and drunkenness.

    It sure is hard to let go of all hope and move on – but life is so much calmer and saner and way less painful without an alcoholic in the house.

  • I AM MARRIED 6 MONTHS TO A MAN WHO HID HIS ALCOHOLISM. I AM SO DISAPPOINTED IN HIM. I HAVE NEVER BEEN AROUND AN ALCOHOLIC IN MY LIFE. I AM 66. I LOVE HIM VERY MUCH AND I KNOW HE LOVES ME BUT HE DRINKS EVERY DAY, AT LEAST 6 DRINKS A DAY. I WOULD DESCRIBE HIM AS A FUNCTIONING ALCOHOLIC. HOLDS JOB, RESPONSIBLE ETC. BUT THE ALCOHOL COMES FIRST AND WE HAVE BEEN HAVING MANY ARGUMENTS. IT IS ALWAYS MY FAULT, WHICH IS NOT TRUE. ALL CONVERSATIONS ARE TURNED AROUND TO BLAME OTHERS AND NOT ACCEPT HIS RESPONSIBILITY WITH DRINKING. I DO NOT WANT TO CONTINUE MARRIAGE UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. EITHER GET CLEAN OR LEAVE. STRONG WORDS BUT WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WHEN HE WILL STAND IN FRONT OF ME DRUNK WITH BOTTLE IN HAND AND SHOUT I DON’T HAVE DRINKING PROBLEM??????????

  • Anita

    I have been married to a functioning alcoholic for 24 yrs. He has been through an outpatient alcohol treatment program at a local hospital, anitbuse program for a year, AA and nothing has helped. His drinking has escalated especially after being in AA. He loved the fact he was told he wasn’t responsible for his drinking or the emotional and verbal abuse-he had an illness. So he started drinking again after only 90 days of attending AA and it has been about 20 times worse than before and he justifies it by the fact he is sick and can’t help himself. I am so over all of this and feel his attending AA only gave him permission to drink even more and he expects me to be sympathetic. I know it is time for me to get out of this marriage-I did leave last year and then came back after he started AA meetings. A big mistake as he refuses to take any responsibility for his behavior and drinks now more than ever. He is having health issues from the excessive drinking- a quart of vodka a day straight. I only wish I would have gotten out a lot sooner when I was younger. It is very scary to start your life over at 62. Living with an alcoholic really takes a toll on your self-esteem and self-worth.

  • Tracy

    I really don’t know what to do. My Husband is a functional Alcoholic. He is never happy with a job and he starts drinking beer at 5pm and doesnt stop til about 9:30 or 10pm. He goes through a 30 pack every other day give or take a few. I feel like we are just roommates instead of husband and wife. We never have dinner together because he wont eat until he finishes drinking. Sex is non existing in our relationship. we might have it every 6 or 8 months. The kicker is we have only been married 4 1/2 yrs. Every time I mention his drinking he blows it off. He is not abusive but here lately he has been moody but he says he is depressed because he cant find work. I am sorry but I wasn’t born yesterday. His father was a alcoholic and was abusive to his mother.

    I am to the point where I am ready to pack up and just leave but I don’t want to up root my kids again. They are from my previous marriage. We have no kids together. Please advise.

  • My question is what would be best for your kids: just you and the kids alone again, or you modeling staying with an alcoholic in a dysfunctional deteriorating marriage no matter what? What would you want them to do should they find themselves in parallel situations as adults?

  • Sonya

    Wow its so relieving to find a place where there are people in the same predicament. please help me;) its a whether to stay or go. he is currently passed out behind me, fully clothed and snoring…. i’m actually happy that it ended this way. more peaceful.
    He is a fun dad. He is light hearted and funny. He is runs and rough and tumbles with the kids.They love him completely. they are 2.5y and 8m.
    He is an awful drunk and if i ask him about where he has been or how unhappy i am he has come home drunk – he gets defensive and throws things.
    He has throttled me before, after i walked away from an argument about me being “boring” actually most fights end up with me being called boring—i’m really not you know.
    He has thrown cell phones at me, punched doors, dropped laptops and accused me of faking a miscarriage to get him away from the pub…we had been married 3 months then. that little girl survived my near miscarriage – now 2.5yrs comes to my defense if dad raises his voice and says “my mommy” with her arms around me… its heartbreaking and i try to keep our fights out of earshot.
    yes i should have walked away then.
    but i never . . . i know you have heard this one…for my kids sake – i know how much a father is needed in a family especially for girls. and no one will love them like he does.
    I left (after he throttled me) for whole week.. and returned not because of promises (there were few) but because my baby had been crying for him. i have often brought up the fact that i want a divorce – he is dead against it and tells me he will do something drastic and / or take the kids with him/or kill himself. although the kids love him they do only see him about an hour on weekdays/Saturdays and on Sundays when he eventually wakes up and spends time with us. please tell me what i can do without hurting my kids future.

  • Kids are more hurt by how their parents handle conflict than by parents being apart. There is violence as a means of control. Violence usually escalates with continued alcohol abuse, putting everyone in danger.

    No one can tell you what to do, but do ask yourself, if this is what you want for your kids?

  • jenny

    Wow, so many people, so many different stories. I am 56 years old, I have 4 children, all grown and 5 grandchildren. I have been married for 37 years. My husband is what you call a “functioning Alcoholic”. I have read all the loneliness, the sexual tention or lack of, abuse. What I haven’t heard is anyone having to clean up almost nightly accidents. Is this happening to just me? Does it come with the territory and is just not talked about?
    My husbands mother and grandmother had demetia. I am so afraid that this might be a part of it… but he gets up and goes to work daily.. doesn’t miss a beat when it is work but come home and the first thing he picks up is his glass for wine.
    We rarely fight, I try to avoid that because early in our marriage I was abused physically and mentally. I know in my heart that I have collected alot of baggage. I have done things like spend money because this is the only happiness that I have. We have been detached for almost 10 years. I have slept in another room for 4 years. We respect one another or we are not trying to rock the boat so to speak.
    I cannot take this.. I am watching him kill himself and my pleading and his families intervention has not worked. the only thing I feel I can do is leave. I am fine with that.. I have no emotion about it. I can take care of myself as I have done so for a long time. I just don’t understand why someone would have these accidents constantly and feel “Iam sorry, I don’t mean to do it” is sufficent. This has been my life for so long.. it seems I have become accustomed to it. I have to stop and take care of myself before the stress kills me. Thanks for listening. jenny

  • b

    Was married to a man who had a history of “being prescribed a lot of medicine.” He was an addict. And also had a history of illegal drug abuse. I didn’t know then that meth (any form) can destroy your body’s ability to produce dopamine. Even though he was able to kick the habits (meth, pot, alcohol, cigarettes and who knows what else–it was the 70s), they had already destroyed his mind and body. He needed my constant attention. He was depressed. He loved his depression, too. Even when I told him it was destroying our marriage, he chose the depression. He chose depression over his job. He then would become what I would call a hypochondriac. The cat scratched him and I would hear about how much it hurt for days. He developed a form of leukemia and that was all he needed to hear to sink even further into the depression. He was literally sitting around waiting to die. He had stage ZERO of CLL which was very easily managed through intravenous therapy. But he decided he needed to be even more depressed.

    Quit his job, we were getting $20,000 minimum a month medical bills. How would we pay the bills, I would ask. His answer was always that it would take care of itself. That’s a load of hooey. Nothing takes care of itself, you have to make things happen.

    My family staged an intervention. They told me that I had to do something about my marriage because they didn’t like watching me become an emotional wreck. So, I divorced the man. He went on disability, I gave him 3 months to leave my house (bought by myself before marriage) and I had to pack his junk for him because he was just too sick. And he stole stuff from me while I was at work. Nothing worth anything, but speaks to his character.

    OK, so my advice to anyone reading this? Just do what you have to do to save yourself and any children. It felt like kicking puppies. The guilt was incredible. It took me a long time to realize that it was a matter of my survival. Do NOT let it become a personal attack on each other. Just get it over with as kindly as you can. Chalk it up to a lesson learned and move on.

    Am now happy again. Been divorced almost 4 years. Don’t miss him at all. Maybe it’s mean, but self preservation is pretty powerful. Good luck to anyone trying to get through it cause it will try you in ways you cannot imagine. But the other side is beautiful, so stay focused.

  • Thanks B,

    I couldn’t have sad it better. It’s a hard lesson to get for anyone in an entwined alcoholic marriage. We so much want to “do the right thing” that we often don’t look after our own survival.

  • Grant

    Been married for almost twenty five years for the past fifteen my wife has been a functioning alcoholic. As a professional counselor I’ve really struggled as she refuses to seek counseling, won’t attend AA, or treat issues with underlying depression. In the spring of this year it all came to a head and I threatened to end the marriage if she did not make an effort to get sober. She has made an effort and although I cannot say she has been completely sober without any slips. She will not seek out any assistance outside of our home. During the time she has been abstaining she has been on a perpetual dry drunk. She isolates herself, does nothing around the house, and is so apathetic aside from work she does nothing. I find myself angry and more frustrated. I’ve come to the point that I don’t care anymore and have begun to move on. I cannot afford to move out or meet my financial obligations on a single income.

    I know what I must do and that’s take care of myself. Thanks for listening.

  • Mary

    I am not sure what to think about my situation. My husband of 19 years is a high functioning alcoholic. I first confronted him 14 years ago, and he went to AA for 90 days then started drinking again. The level of his drinking has varied over the years, but it’s typically at least a six pack a night. I stopped obsessing over the exact numbers of beers based on advice from Al-Anon, I just know he crushes the cans and keeps them in a black plastic yard bag beside his chair in the basement so nobody can see what he’s consuming. We have two girls aged 8 and 11, and he was not involved with them when they were younger, but has thankfully gotten very involved in them via the local soccer program, so they do spend some productive time with him and I am pretty sure he isn’t drinking then. It isn’t terrible to the outsider – he will clean the kitchen if I guilt him into it (or refuse to cook in a dirty kitchen), he does his own laundry, he has a decent job that doesn’t seem affected by his drinking, and he rarely embarrassed me in front of others.

    From the inside, I’m terribly lonely and resentful and I’m not the person I want to be. He spends most of his home time drinking alone in the basement, about a third of the time to the point of slurring his words and losing focus in his eyes. He can’t remember anything we discuss and in bed he smells like alcohol and cigarettes and interrupts my sleep constantly with his snoring. He has left me to manage the entire household – the finances, the shopping, the cooking, the scheduling, care for the girls, the social calendar, the paperwork for his business…about everything except the yard and his laundry and occasionally the kitchen. I used to beg for his help, but he says that nothing he does is ever right (although I’m very careful not to criticize because his ego is fragile) and I got tired of having the same conflict over and over so I usually just don’t ask anymore. I feel absolutely alone in this marriage and have detached from him. He resents me because we don’t have sex, but I have no interest in him because I don’t feel like he’s my partner.

    From the outside he doesn’t look like an alcoholic, but he’s not there for me and his drinking certainly feels like one of the causes. I am so confused. I don’t know if it’s anything that my girls are attuned to. I know my older daughter knows that I’m sad, I just don’t know if she knows why. I don’t want the girls to blame me for breaking up the family because he doesn’t appear to be that bad. I have no idea if it’s better to keep trying or leave. I don’t want to give up too easily, as I’ve learned to fall in love with him again in the past so I could probably do it again, I’m just tired of ending up here over and over.

  • vera

    I have been married to an alcoholic husband for 19 years this week. I am finally putting my plan in motion..finding a place for me and my 3 kids ages 8, 14 and 16. I always stayed because he was a functional alcoholic at one time, but now we have lost everything, house, money, etc. What made me finally realize I must go leave is my kids. They all have emotional problems that come with living in a home with an alcoholic parent.

    I’m tired of being embarrassed at every Christmas, wedding occasion, thanksgiving and most recently my son’s confirmation. My daughter had a eating disorder from watching her dad and that is the way she coped with the abuse of her dads drunkenness.

    I love this man but his personality has taken a turn drastically the passed 2 years and I am emotionally ill and filled with anxiety. The pain from living in hell with the alcoholic is no longer a life I want no matter how much he says he going to change. I had ups and down all my 19 years with him…saying sorry I’m going to slow down drinking, etc. it stops for a few days or weeks and then it just starts up again but now it is unbearable for the family to lives this way. I finally realized I was an enabler for all the years in our marriage.

    I am taking my kids and I to Al-anon meeting first one this Friday. I am putting money aside, applied for welfare and I may have a place in a few months. I plan on just walking out not threatening anymore putting the plan in motion just packing up and going. His sister is his new enabler so I know he will probably drink himself away and just get used to not having us around.

    Its sad I spent 19 years with this man I thought we would grow old together and divorce was never in my cards, but I must go to save my kids from the pain and chaos of living with an alcoholic. I also don’t want to live with a man that loves the bottle more than his family anymore. If its true that alcohol always wins, then I am ready to let go of this man and start a new life.

  • Guilia

    I am here too because I am the wife of a functioning but declining alcoholic, married 27 years. I cannot believe this is my life. He was for most of those years a decent, caring man. He lost his moral compass. He has been arrested for a DUI. He has gotten ill with gastrointestinal problems. Yet nothing leads him to wanting to get sober. He doesn’t see how much harm he has caused, and some of it is unbelievable. He is coarse and vulgar now – filthy language, talks of sex all the time, hangs with low life people who he basically imitates.

    I want to leave but like so many others on this site, finances keep me stranded here. I am depressed, suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, which is flaring, and like another site visitor, I lost my father about a year ago too, unexpectedly. I am devastated. I feel so much loss – the loss of my dad, the loss of my husband through addiction and alcoholic insanity – nothing makes much sense to me anymore. I have lost interest in so many things and my self-esteem is shot. I am ashamed that I am still with him – ashamed that he made me his doormat. The change in his personality is unreal – as if someone else took over his body. I feel so utterly hopeless that things will ever get better for me, and yes, I have gone to Al-Anon, have all the books, but for some reason, I am not brave enough to leave him. It’s insane – as if his alcohol insanity has made me insane too.

  • Guilia, never lose hope! Your job is not to know how something will work out, but just that you want it to…and then take the first step…and the second…

  • Elizabeth

    My Fiance is a semi functioning alcoholic.I knew he had a problem with alcohol when I first met him 2 years ago, but I fell in love with him anyways. His drinking has varied,at first we were drinking a lot together, we were going to the liquor store every day for the first couple months and getting completely drunk together. My dad was an abusive alcoholic and I’ve always kind of struggled with drinking myself so I think at first I was going along with my fiances habit, but we ended up having one horrible night that made me reevaluate and stop drinking altogether. I’ve confronted him about his drinking as it’s gotten in the way of our relationship constantly…he has gotten 2 DUIs, been fired for drinking on the job and made countless bad decisions and had countless fights with loved ones while drinking. We’ve discussed his drinking problem so many times that he is forced to control some of his drinking. He has cut down to beer every night, usually a six pack or more, and will drink liquor on the weekends.

    On a usual night we get along and are really a healthy happy couple, we go hiking and running together and talk about going back to school for higher degrees. But he still scares me with his drinking. I am scared to come home if he has the day off because I know he will be drunk and he has started to get so mean verbally…He won’t ever admit that he has a problem. He says he’s just having fun and enjoys a good beer, and that I have just turned into a big nag. I don’t know what to do, I’m ready to leave him or see that he gets help.

  • Earline

    I’m so glad to have found a site like this, reading the hearts of women like myself married to a alcoholic. I’ve been married five years, and knew my husband since I was ten yrs old. In our late twenties early thirties we were getting high together for many years. At that time on drugs I had six kids,the last one being his daughter, he went to jail and I went to rehab,clean my life up and was happy by myself with my children. That was 21yrs ago. He was incarcerated for 10yrs, came home and we reunited got married and the first year was peaches and cream. Then one day I began to notice the changes in him actually signs that I had seen before, but I ignored: anger, controlling,the lying,arguments,he was cheating and then the drinking began. I was devastated, we separated for a while, I let him back, and have been on this roller coaster ride ever since.

    In reading this site there has been a piece of my husband in every story, I know now that I have to let him go, I use to think it was me, but its not me. He has such a cunning powerful disease that I can’t compete with, and I just let him back after baby. I’m going to get help the whole nine yards, going to church, praying, staying in the house etc..it lasted two weeks. I had to think about when I decided to get myself together and stop using drugs, no matter how much somebody else wanted me to change, I had to make that decision to change and I had to want it. I do believe in the power of prayer God himself allows us our own will of choice, so until he wants to change his life, I mean really wants it, change won’t come, so I choose to live my life with a peace of mind without him, as much as I love him. Its best for both of us.`Sure I want my marriage to work, I’m a christian and I take my vows very seriously, but it takes two to make a marriage, I still have hope I continue to pray that my husband surrender his will to God’s will. And I pray for the women who’s going through that the Lord will strengthen you and give you wisdom and guidance. I pray healing and restoration in your lives, and most of all peace and joy.

  • shar2

    Dr. Neill

    I have been married for the last 24 years. My husband and I were in a motorcyle accident 9 years ago and to control his pain he drinks beer from about 3 or 4pm then switches to rye and diet cola until bedtime.He has been off work for numerous surgeries for the last 5 years. I have never seen my husband drunk and he seems easy going. I have told him that drinking daily for 8 hours is not normal and that he is an alcoholic. He also smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. We have children and coming from a home where alcohol was hardly ever consumed his consumption seems excessive.He has grown up in a home where alcohol was regularly consumed. I have started to drink in the past year and can’t handle it. I am taking steps to eliminate alcohol but my husband says he can handle it. We fight about his health the money being spent and being good role models. He walks away from me when I suggest there’s a problem..communication is difficult with him so I try to hold back my conerns. He tells me I start all the fights and I ‘m at my wits end. I know I am only in control of myself..but I love him and so do my children. I often feel lonely even though we spend time together as I work part time. He has isolated himself from friends and gets anxious about going places. Can he be an alcoholic even though he never appears intoxicated?

  • Hi Shar2′

    Yes, some serious alcoholics seldom appear intoxicated.

    You described my pattern of years ago. I drank heavily and seldom appeared intoxicate…and it almost killed me. After a week at the Mayo Clinic, I quit, and found ways to deal with the life issues I was avoiding.

  • Kate

    I’ve been involved with a functioning alcoholic for 7 years (4 married). In fact, he is so “functioning” (and deceptive) that I didn’t know he had a problem until he left us 6 months ago after I accidentally discovered his secret stash of liquor. He used to drink beer daily, then wine (because it was “healthier”), and now liquor that he has said he doesn’t like. I caught him sneaking bottles into the house several times but he’d deny it. I figured walking up to him and grabbing the bottle from behind his back to prove my point would only humiliate him and cause him to become defensive, and from past experience, that has never lead to anything good.

    He has repeatedly cheated and lied to me in the last 3 years while all along, he reminds me that he wouldn’t forgive me for either should I ever do it to him. The first time he lied, he was profusely apologetic and cried. The first time he was caught cheating, he threatened suicide. Any incidents after that, he was less and less remorseful, more and more indignant, never made amends, and it was more like he was angry at me (for exposing the truth) and himself (for getting caught). I suggested marriage counseling but he refused. He said he didn’t know why he kept doing these things but his actions were clearly that of an unhappy man. He admitted that he had deep seated anger from his “dysfunctional upbringing” (his words) and this anger would become so dominant once it was triggered (he doesn’t know what those triggers are) and when this happens, he can no longer care about / for others. He said things were so repressed that he didn’t know what he was necessarily angry about any more but he needed to figure it out ALONE before he could be kind and treat us the way we deserved. Up until now, he was supposedly figuring things out at home. I felt like I was just living with “someone” under the same roof. He was emotionally absent (unless anger was the emotion that was called for!) and I felt neglected but I gave him the space he asked for and stayed because I don’t take the commitment that I made to us in marriage lightly.

    When I found his stash, my first thought was “he lied to me AGAIN!” but before I could even react, HE was the one that broke out in a rage! He said he would “feel obligated” to take care of our toddler or help with the house and that would detract from time that he needed to focus on himself. Well, focus on himself, he did! He is the most selfish, self-absorbed, self-righteous, entitled, narcissistic person I have ever known!!

    Nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced within days of him leaving. All along, I thought my husband had insight into his problems (he identified anger and control issues, poor coping skills that lead him to drink, perpetual negative thinking, and lack of interest in all people and things except his child) and he’s going to think these through and then he’ll come back. While I understand that he needed time, I was still sad and angry that he pretty much abandoned us for his own needs without any discussion or consideration of our needs.

    Within a few days, HE was angry AT ME for being angry. He said it’s not events(him leaving)that cause stress but my expectations that end up getting broken that do (so it was wrong of me to “expect” that my spouse be faithful, honest, and treat me as an equal in marriage?). He’d call me horrible names and when I cried, he’d laugh and say no one can make me feel anything…that I was making myself miserable by taking his words personally. If something he said made me upset, he’d tell me to repeat what he said verbatim (which I think alone is pretty abusive and belittling) and if I even missed a single word (last time it was over whether he said “bull s%^&” or “bull c^&*”…does it really make any difference?!) then he’d yell and scream until he was hoarse (reminds me of a tantrum) that I distort things he says and I misinterpret EVERYTHING (not just that one word). Things that he says that I feel are mean are in fact not so…it’s me not listening carefully enough or hearing “what I want to hear” so I can make him out to be a bad person. If I say “I have a question…”, he immediately cuts me off and tells me he doesn’t have THE answer that I’m looking for, and that it’s actually NOT a question because I already have an answer in my mind and I’m convinced that I’m always right so it wouldn’t matter what he has to say anyway. A man who doesn’t know what he’s angry about or why he cheats and lies, suddenly knows what question I’m going to ask before I even ask it, knows that I have an answer, and knows my mind is made up. That’s so much “knowing” about me from a man that knows so little about himself. I find this to be disturbing on so many levels. He left to supposedly help himself so he could be a good husband and father but this was what he found. All sorts of excuses to blame me so he didn’t have to be responsible or accountable for anything he said or did. Everything was suddenly MY FAULT but ironically, none of these things happened during the marriage. I had been eagerly waiting for him to come up with what I had said or done to him during our marriage that made him so miserable so I could apologize and make amends but he can’t think of anything. He was emotionally unavailable and withdrawn during our marriage but he wasn’t abusive and now he is. He says such horrible things. He rationalizes the irrational and takes insignificant things and creates enormous issues out of them. I’m sober as can be but I feel drunk and confused. Things are so crazy that I question my sanity. Recently, he started talking in cryptic language (i.e. “does a square peg fit into a circular hole?”) and he gets furious when I ask for clarification (like “what is this comment in reference to?”) and says if I thought about it, I’d get it. The answer is “obvious” but I don’t see it because I’m from a different planet. Deep down, I know that the things he blames me for have nothing to do with our marriage or me, for that matter, but when the “fault list” gets longer and longer and each day, he finds more horrific things to say, it’s hard to swallow.

    I started to realize that if I stayed, he would hurt my self-esteem. As if the emotional and verbal abuse wasn’t enough, he physically threatened me once and that was the last straw. I would not tolerate that in my marriage or our daughter’s life. Since he had already told me mockingly that he may or may not return anyway, I decided to file for legal separation 2 weeks ago. He reminded me that I was the one that didn’t take our vows seriously because I was taking the first step. Since he hasn’t paid a penny towards our finances since we’ve been married, I need to protect my assets for myself and our daughter. I need to preserve my own sanity so I can be a good parent to our child. After the things he did during our marriage and all that he has said and done in the last 6 months, I figured he would be relieved that I made the move so he didn’t have to be the one that broke it off. But he’s not happy and his craziness is increasing. I feel like it’s a no win situation for me. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t but I can’t take this anymore and I need to walk away before it destroys me. Thank goodness for Al Anon, counselors, and sites like these or I would have lost it months ago.

  • Kelsey

    Dear Kate,

    Reading your story, I saw mine. Except we’ve been married for 8 years and he was drinking hard liquor all along.

    Like your husband, mine cheated on me multiple times. With “colleagues” at work, during business trips and most recently, with a heroin addict he met in rehab. He would do anything, just to feel better about himself – just for a moment of endorphine realease. Later on, during his rare lucid moments, he would realize what he has done, apologize, threaten with suicide and the cycle would repeat itself a few weeks/months later.

    Like your husband, mine doesn’t mince words and calls me whatever he wants to. Funny you mentioned that, but he would also get angry at me for being angry !!! Anger doesn’t even descripe how I have felt. Sometimes, I just wanted to crowl under the bed and never leave. Or just stop being – so that the pain goes away.

    Of course, both him and his family blame ME for his alcoholism. They have found themselves an easy target too. I am 10 years younger and everybody around has been asking me: “what the hell are you doing with this monster”. I was co-dependent and for years couldn’t even answer that question. Finally, my psychiatrist pointed that out. But tey will have to ask no more. I am also filing for separation. This man has deprived me of my life, self-esteem and sanity. It took me years to realize that nobody deserves to be treated this way.

  • Mike

    I am a alcoholic that is working on recovery. My wife is the child of a acholic and has tolerated my drinking for years. I have only recently noticed what I was doing to myself and my family. She has become distant from me since opening my eyes to my self destruction. Is there still hope for our marriage. I didn’t go to AA but did seek help from the group ACTS. I am in hopes that there is a solution to this without the ending of our relationship. I just hope that it can be salvaged from the effects of this addiction. Any support would be appreciated. Thanks for your time.

  • vanessa

    Just another story…husband “functional alcoholic”.

    We met while both serving in the Air Force. I became a stay at home mom, and he became an officer. Married 12 years…3 children, 11, 9, and 7. We both love our children.

    Husband is golden at work, but has to drink to cope with family life. Stress at work does not phase him, but as soon as he gets home, he is stressed. Despite the somewhat normal family life, clean home, happy kids (somewhat depressed wife), dinner ready when he comes home, active sexual life with each other, he still goes through a liter or two a week. He is very popular with the people he works with, and often gets invited out (staying out all hours, ending up drunk on someone’s couch, or driving home). He admitted that he drinks and drives all the time to “varying levels”. He seems to be okay with that, but I am absolutely mortified. “It isn’t a big deal, I’ve been driving for a long time.”
    Are you kidding me? How can someone be OKAY with that?

    Last night was a rather nasty fight. I got upset because he told me about a prior event in the week in which he went to lunch and started drinking with his fellow AF buddy Paul. The night had continued on with drinking, driving, and more drinking. It turned into a fight, and then i realized he was leaving to go out at 10pm. I hid the keys but he threatened to break everything in the house if I don’t give him the keys.

    I tried to call the police, but he ripped the phone from my hand and threw it, and I ran out of the room as he grabbed me trying to stop me. He came out into the living room after me, and I turned around and decked him. (I don’t usually participate in violent behavior, but was caught up in the emotional moment of desperation). He pushed me on the couch, and incessantly crying, I gave him the keys before it got loud enough to wake the kids up.

    Insanity. This is not how grown-ups should act. I will admit that I don’t regret hitting him in his mean drunken stupor.

    He then came home a few hours later, got undressed, and tried to ‘come on’ to me in his drunken state. Seriously? Um, NO.

    This morning, he got up and went to work on time. I put on my happy face (which isn’t hard to do around them) for the kids, thank GOD they didn’t hear anything last night.

    I have no where to go, no family, few friends. I am fully dependent on his salary despite a 4 year college degree and 12 years experience in the AF. So, despite the fact that we do love each other and want to be together, we do not get along or agree on anything. He is an ‘agressive acting-out’ type male personality (likes to gamble, high sex-drive). Surprisingly, he is mostly financially responsible.

    I can’t live like this or risk the children witnessing their father drinking. Our 11 year old has caught on to the fact that there is alcohol in the house and that her father drinks. They cannot tell that he is ‘buzzed’ or has over-consumed, as he isn’t normally drunk until after they have gone to bed. As they grow older though, they will know if I can’t stop this madness.

    I have tried banning alcohol from the house, tried ultimatums, tried being the best supportive loving wife I could be, tried giving him all the space he needed (he was stationed in Saudi for one year with frequent trips home).

    What the heck do I do?
    Why is this happening?
    I am so unhappy.

  • Confused in BA

    I’m reading a lot of these sites and I seem to see more of the man being the problem drinker. Two weeks ago, my wife of 7 years told me that she drinks to make her mind stop. I asked her what I could do to help and she told me that she was going to drink and I could deal with it or else. Then she asked me what I wanted to do? I couldn’t really say anything, she had already made the decision. She packed up and moved to her mom’s house that night and we haven’t spoken for two weeks. I should point out that she has RA and takes Hydrochodone daily for the pain. Mix this in with her Gastric bypass and her seasonal mood swing (fall-winter) and it’s like the perfect storm. I have done everything I can to open the doors for communication. We have excellent healthcare so options are available for help, but she just won’t communicate. I don’t want to give up on her, I married her for better or for worse, but I don’t know what to do. Sorry for the sob story, but there are good men out here, it’s not always the man who drinks.

  • Carli

    Hi everyone!
    I find much relieve reading all these stories that feel like mine! its crazy and it feels nice to know I am not alone, to know that others feel like I feel, to know that others also have an alcoholic husband that puts you through literally HELL and when things are ok.. HEAVEN.. it sucks!! cuz ur in a constant roller coaster.. the verbal abuse, the screaming, the slaming of doors and braking things in the house..but then the make up, so sweet.. I CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE!! I am in a very toxic relationship, we have been married for 8 yrs and they have been very BITTER-SWEET. He is a great guy, but very sick….. and cant keep jobs, and I think I am very sick too now and do not know what to do….. We lost a baby not too long ago, our first and only baby when I was 8 weeks pregant,he was so supportive and was there for me and did so much for me and the pregnancy and that is who I am in love with, but then, this other bastard comes out, and I just HATE HIM!!! SO MUCH!! I have so much anger with him! I read that you can love and hate at the same time and that is me….. I wanted a baby but now I will not get pregnant because I will not put my baby through this, unless he sobers up. He is 39 and I am 25 and I dont want to live my life like this, but when he is sober and we are getting along, I can honestly say I am very VERY happy! I left my country to be with him and I have no family here or friends. I think I have lost it….. I dont know what to do and how to cope with it or leave him….. like the U2 song ¨with or without you¨ I feel like that.. any advise is very helpful THANK YOU!!!!! =D God bless..

  • Sharla

    I’ve been in a 10 year relationship (3 married)with an alcoholic who has been sober and in AA for 2 years. So he stopped drinking and is completely involved in AA except that NOTHING has changed. He has continued to quit jobs, blame me for the issues in our relationship, lie and now I find out has continued to cheat on me (now with a woman in AA) He moved out on thanksgiving saying that we are over. He has only worked the first 3 steps and acknowledges that he can’t do step 4. If you don’t know this is the step where a moral inventory is taken. I know that until he loves himself enough to get real with his recovery that he will not be able to love me. But my question is how do I deal with the rejection? I’m so sad because all I asked him was for us to work on ourselves so that our relationship would have a chance. But obviously he doesn’t want to do that but would rather surround himself with people who only stroke his ego. I’ve been going to Alanon and understand my need to take care of myself. After 10 years of being with him I don’t even know what that means. And then none of this matters because he has left and this time it seems like it’s final especially considering he has someone else to pay attention to him. I’m rambling. The pain is just overwhelming me. Thank you for listening.

  • Doug

    I am certain that my situation is not unique, but in skimming this forum did not see any other stories like mine. My wife and I are both alcoholics. I did not understand this when we were dating and when we got married. The alcohol was always a focus of our relationship and I later realized was the basis of our relationship and marriage. Every holiday was ruined by alcohol and arguing, fighting and often abusive behavior on both of our parts. After each incident, I would emphasize that we had a problem and we couldn’t control our drinking. We needed to stop.

    The cycle continued until things became really violent and I was charged with a domestic violence crime and taken to jail. This was for me the rock bottom that AA refers to. She worked with my attorney to have my terms of release modified to allow contact and later to allow cohabitation. We made a commitment to each other that we would not drink anymore.

    We used NA beer and wine as a crutch and the pattern we had established remained the same, but we would not have enough alcohol to become impaired, let alone intoxicated. The were no further incidents of abusive behavior with the intoxication removed from the equation. However, I could see the behavior pattern continuing. She would phone on her way home from work and ask “Do I need to bring anything home?”. Without saying anything about NA beer or wine, we both knew exactly what she meant.

    On one occasion, I offered to clean out her vehicle and found a bottle of wine under the passenger seat. I asked her about it and she told me that she would mix that with a sports drink and consume it on her way home from work. She knew that she couldn’t bring it into the house as that would violate my terms of release. On another occasion, she actually brought wine into the house and drank 2/3 of the bottle while I was in bed early. She came to bad acting out of sorts, angry and abusive. It was not until the next day when she told me that she had drank wine the night before that I realized why she was acting as she was.

    She had initiated therapy with a marriage counselor who she saw once without me, twice with me and the remaining eleven sessions I went by myself. It was clear that she did not want to face her problem and I couldn’t help her. I began attending AA sessions and reaching out to friends and family, being honest about my problem and working to address it. During one of the sessions with the marriage therapist, my wife lied to me and told me she had to work. I came home to a note on the counter and she was gone. After about a month of contact by phone, email and text messages, she decided to take my concern for her well being and turn it into a restraining order across state lines.

    In a way this was a blessing, as I did not know where she was and had no way to serve her the divorce paperwork. She was served the paper work outside of court at the first hearing for the protective order. Today marks 32 days of sobriety for me without even a single NA beer or glass of wine. It has been an extremely difficult challenge for me to make this change in my life while going through this emotional ordeal.

    On the bright side, I continue to reinforce my efforts knowing that I do not ever want to have to stop drinking again. If I do not start, I do not need to stop. I also reassure myself that if I can stop drinking through this, the rest of my life should be considerably easier to continue on this path. It has been tough, but now I understand what all of my friends and family were going through trying to get me to understand that I had a problem. My alcoholism would not allow me to see that, just as my wife’s alcoholism will not allow her to see her problem.

    I am eager to have the divorce finalized and am extremely thankful that we never had any children. I am also very grateful that I still have the pre-marital agreement signed and notarized which she “conveniently” had lost. Thank you for this forum. For everyone dealing with alcohol problems in a relationship, please bear in mind that you can only control yourselves and it is your first priority. If you have kids, they come second. There is nothing you can do to assist your alcoholic spouse. Best of luck to you all.

  • Lori

    It is nearly 3 AM and once again I am sitting up alone wondering why I am still married. My husband of 10 years (he is 52 I am 55) drinks 6-15 beers every evening. He starts drinking in the car on his way home from work and doesn’t stop until he goes to bed. He is also depressed and takes amiltryptiline.

    When I got home this evening he was slurring his words so I just went to bed. When he came to bed he passed out and began snoring. When I asked him to please roll over he just starts screaming at me. This happens a few times a week. I just snapped tonight and we got into a screaming match…also happens a lot and he moved to another bedroom.

    He works but is barely holding on to his job. He had some problems a year ago with his manager and refuses to let it go and maintains he won’t be happy until she is fired. Now that HR has completed their investigation and did not fire him he is on a crusade to get the HR person fired if he can. It is a complicated situation.

    When we were first married we were so happy and yes we both enjoyed having wine with dinner or going out but now he just wants to sit at home and drink. He told me recently that he does not like people and isn’t sure he wants to be married and then a few days later he tells me everything is fine. I am so confused and hurt and lonely. I do work and luckily I travel quite a bit so I can escape but he drinks even more when I am gone. If I call him in the evening he is always drunk. Our friends no longer call us to socialize and I have quit calling them as they turn me down. Thank God I have a lot of friends that I do a lot of things with.

    I can just feel the wall between us getting higher and thicker and I don’t think he cares. I really want the man I married back, we were truly partners in every sense of the word. I miss our relationship and I miss him.

  • Maria

    My alcoholic husband is so arrogant, stubborn and prideful, that he says he is divorcing me because he does not want to be married anymore because I can’t just accept him the way his is. I now face financial ruin and losing our house because of his pride. I am being rejected by the alcoholic, porn addicted, pothead.

    And of course everything is my fault and I am the one who is so very flawed and unworthy of him. Unlike other alcoholics, my husband has no fear of me leaving, oh no, he runs the show and he will punish me by leaving and rejecting me.

  • Callie

    I have been married 21 years and for the past year have finally gotten out of denial and recognized my husband is a functioning alcoholic. He drinks every day after work, and on the weekends it starts earlier and goes all day. I believe he has been an alcoholic our entire marriage. We met in college, so we both were drinkers back then. I just assumed once married and working that would all stop as it did for me. I noticed right before we got married that he drank daily and I questioned him about it then. He told me he just enjoyed the taste of beer.

    I came from a family with no alcohol in the house, and he came from a family that was very open about drinking so I believed him. About 6 years ago he had a panic attack, and was put on Lorezapam and also given Ativan. From what I understand Ativan is only to be used when feeling like a panic attack is coming on. But he usually takes Ativan for fun. I always know when he has taken that because he can barely open his eyes. We have two children under 11 and I worry about what they are seeing. He is not violent or abusive… he is just very lazy. He goes to work, and does well there as far as I know, he makes good money. He loves me and the children I know that. We have zero sex life, and when he does try to love on me in his intoxicated slurry state it completely repulses me… yet he does not see that there is a problem. I have talked to him about it, and all he asks is if there has been any complaints from the kids.

    He does not see that his example is horrible for our kids, he doesn’t see that we have no real relationship.. we are more like friends. I am torn as to what to do. I really want a fulfilling relationship, and this is not it. I’m scared to leave because I know the kids love their daddy so much. But he does drink too much in front of them, embarrassing us at restaurants by his behavior. He has fallen a few times, but the kids don’t know about that. It’s just such a tough place.. I almost wish he was abusive because I know I would leave in a heartbeat. I have told him I believe he is an alcoholic and he didn’t necessarily disagree, but turned the tables and said that I was a selfish person. Do I threaten to leave if he doesn’t go to rehab.. what do I do?

  • Lu

    Dr. Neill appreciates your comments and how you all help one another! He is very grateful to provide this forum and all the feedback he receives! His heart goes out to each one of you. However, Dr. Neill is not able to give advice in this public forum. If you need his help, please refer to his consultations page: http://www.neillneill.com/consultations. He uses Skype or telephone to make consulting more convenient.

  • Read many of the comments, and I really do identify. I am on my 3rd marriage. I have been married to addicts and/or alcoholics the entire time. My “picker” is broken, having grown up in an alcoholic home. My marriages have typically ended around the 3rd year. I have 2 kids who I have raised mostly on my own. They are both grown now, living out of the house and doing well.

    My current husband is not only an alcoholic, who relapsed after treatment, but also gambles. He goes in cycles, also. It seems, too, that he doesn’t care if it bothers me and, through Al-Anon, I have learned it’s not me that makes him drink, and it’s not me who is going to stop him. I have my own choices to make. Al-Anon has been quite helpful. However, what seems to keep bothering me is the fact that it doesn’t bother him, knowing how he treats me when he is drunk, and, it’s almost as if he is testing/taunting me – wondering if I’ll leave. He has abandonment issues (his father was a drunk who left the family), has been married two previous times, himself.

    It’s almost as if I am staying to prove to him that he’s wrong about me leaving. He says he’s just not “husband material.” I am too old to divorce AGAIN, and to frightened of being alone the rest of my life. Which is what I would be looking at, not to mention the fact that he has given me an STD (which he claims he had gotten from his first wife). I almost just don’t want to know the truth – I know I can’t control it. I just have to have a peace about ME, which I am working on. It’s all frustrating, though. I hope the best for all of you on here.

  • Crimson

    After reading so many comments and knowing I have had the same feelings, I felt compelled to share my story. I met my husband about 4 years ago, and even though I knew he liked to drink, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into till after we had already been married. During our first year of marriage we separated so many times it was unbelievable. His drinking just kept getting worse, my three children (who were 4, 6, and 8 at the time) were becoming a witness to something I never knew was possible. I was allowing a man that continually degraded me, drank our bill money, and yelled and stumbled around all the time, come back into our home over and over again. Each time was the same song and dance of “I know I was wrong and I’ll do whatever it takes to come back. Please don’t give up on me.” I felt since our vows were “till death do us part” it was my duty as wife to stand by my husband through the thick and thin. So I let him come back every time.

    2 years into our marriage my middle son who was always the comedic, always had a smile on his face, started showing signs of uncontrollable anger. His grades were dropping at school, he was yelling and screaming at the drop of hat, and his self esteem had dropped. I couldn’t figure out what had happened to him, until a week before Easter last year. He and my husband had formed a bond like no other. Even though his drinking had turned from being functional to non functional he always made time with my son (leaving my oldest son and daughter out). Two weeks before Easter last year I told my husband I wanted a divorce. His drinking had became to much and I couldn’t handle it anymore. I kicked him out of the house and he moved back in with his parents who lived 2 hours away from us. 3 days later I got a call the he tried to commit suicide. The kids and I rushed to the hospital where he was to be with him. Luckily he made it through and was sent to a mental hospital for evaluation. The day after we got home I was at work and received a phone call from my son’s school. He had tried to commit suicide in his classroom…..at 8 years old!!! I realized then his unusual behaviors had been mocked by my husband’s. My son spent Easter in a mental hospital…it was completely heartbreaking knowing that I could have prevented that experience for him if I wouldn’t have my husband come back so many times.

    After they both got out my husband started going to church, going to counseling, and AA meetings. I didn’t let him come back for 6 months thinking that if he could go without for that long we could try again. In the mean time I concentrated on getting my son the help that he needed. When he finally did come home things were great!! He was setting a better example for the kids, he was working and helping with the bills, I felt like everything was falling into place. Then he got laid off from his job, and instead of going out and looking for another one, he started drinking again–and this time it was so much worse.

    Within 8 months, he had totaled my car nearly killing himself and his friend, he went through 6 jobs, (got his first paycheck and blew it all on beer and didn’t want to go to work cause he was too busy drinking), and attempted suicide 3 more times. I realized if I didn’t get out I would waste my life worrying and stressing over things I knew I couldn’t change. No matter how hard I tried. I would be endangering my kids and continue to set the example that it was okay of what he was doing. I knew I didn’t want that, not for my kids or for me.

    I finally left him for good 4 months ago. I started back to school, my kids are doing so much better and life has become a new thing for me. I’m finding the woman that I was before I met him. He still calls me and sends me texts that he wants to come back home and he has quit drinking. But it has come to the point now, that even if he really has quit it all, its still too late. I’m better off and so are my children. So for those that are on the fence about leaving, ask yourself this- do you want to spend the rest of your life fighting a battle that can’t win or do you want to live a life that your proud of with no regrets??

    I’m 29 years going back to college and I feel great. I have a lady in one of my classes that is 48 and has been in the same shoes that we are…48 and back in school!!! IT GOES TO SHOW IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START YOUR LIFE!!!! You can do this on your own and there are resources to help you until you are stable again. Use them, they are there for a reason. I wish you all luck and each one of u are in my prayers. I hope my story can help!!! God Bless!! :)

  • Valerie

    I hope I can contribute something different to the comments on this website. I AM an alcoholic and have been for four years. I AM the one that got drunk all but 21 days of an eleven month relationship, six month marriage. My soon to be ex-husband packed up and moved out after the fighting between us (often both of us doing it) escalated to physical abuse. After he moved out, I hit bottom. I realized I had destroyed relationships, hurt people, put myself and others in danger. I am ashamed of my behavior looking back.

    So what did I do after my husband left? Well the first thing I did was think about ending my life. I was that depressed. But I have a nine year old son that I wasn’t going to leave him because I have a drinking problem. It took me about two months to get my act together and really take a long, hard look at myself. I HATED what I saw. So I started going to AA meetings and have 33 days sober. I’m proud of my accomplishment because what a lot of you people on this site don’t realize and couldn’t unless you had this disease is that NOT DRINKING when you stop drinking is the easy part. Facing your poor choices, guilt, sadness, emptiness…all the feelings that come back, all the ones that caused you to drink in the first place, all come raging out. It is the hardest thing in the world to deal with.

    I’m determined to maintain my sobriety, attend my meetings when I need to (no, not every alcoholic needs to go everyday, everyone’s different) and work my steps. I don’t live for another sobriety coin, I live for another day where I can remember all the things I did and said, right or wrong, enjoy the little things like the sunrise and sunset, and display random acts of kindness to the people I love, the ones I’ve hurt, even my neighbors and strangers, because I can now. I’m not drunk. My husband still loves me, bless his heart, because I don’t deserve him and never have. I’m working at my marriage, though he’s moved out and I, at his request, have filed for divorce.

    I’m not giving up on myself, and apparently he hasn’t given up on me altogether either. He gave me my life when he left me, the gift of sobriety…I want to give something back to him…a loving, sober wife. So for all of you reading these comments, if your spouse takes steps to change and truly wants to, support him or her. People CAN change, if they want to. I can’t believe how wonderful the last 33 days have been for me. I will not let Satan take the reigns over my life again by dangling the bottle in my face. I am the only one with the ability to push it away and I will. I hope with God’s help, I always will. Good luck.

  • joanne

    Can’t believe that I am not alone. My husband is a functioning alcoholic, but in denial. We have been together for 10 years and married for nearly 2. And have 2 boys under 2 and another on the way. I am at a breaking point.

    We have recently moved to the other side of the state away from all family support. My hubby has always been a heavy drinker, but he just can not carry himself or handle the grog. I love my husband to bits when he is sober, but as soon as he has more than 6 beers under his belt I can not stand to be around him. He slurs, stumbles, can’t look straight, is rude to anyone and everyone that is around. He won’t say no to a beer; likes to drink until its all gone.

    He says inappropriate things and is an arsehole to me. I often have to pretend everything is OK because I can’t be bothered with the dramas. If he comes to bed way too intoxicated I often wake to find him around the house peed–anywhere but the toilet. 95% of the time I get to him half way through and he is incoherent and basically asleep. Last night was the worse he has been and actually sat on the edge of our bed and peed everywhere. What was worse is our 2 year old was in our bed after being woken by his drunk dad.

    When he’s sober he’s the best hubby and dad you could ask for. But, this urinating is something I will not deal with. I want to protect our kids from the drunk dad. Hubby has said he has a problem one day then the next day it’s not. I threaten to leave, and never go through with it. He is a good man when he is not drinking. He is sleeping his hangover off while the family has to miss out on an enjoyable day. He refuses to talk about our issues when he is hung over–like he is coming down. I’m starting to think he is allergic to alcohol. I am so confused and don’t know what to do for someone that doesn’t seem to want help.

  • Mare

    My marriage is over due to my husband’s need to go over to his buddy’s house and drink and smoke pot. Running away to get drunk/high is how he copes with life. We have had problems, but rather than face them and deal with them together in a rational state, he preferred to run and hide in a beer can and then get pissed off at me. He put his relationship with the buddy first. The last several months, he went there right after work at least three nights a week and drove home drunk late at night. I turned into Mommy dealing with a rebellious teenage brat, which kept the cycle going. He is now living with the buddy, no doubt getting drunk every night. At least he’s not driving; far as I know.

    This started back when we first began living together. So, for any women who are struggling with this now, it’s not going to change. Decide now whether you can deal with it because it WILL continue. Don’t waste 20 years of your life like I did.

  • Mary

    I have been married for 30 years to a man who comes home from work every single day and within the hour has cracked open a beer (hate that sound) and usually has between 5-6 beers with no one else drinking with him. He waits until later to have supper as to not interfere with his having his beer and “relaxing”. I have mentioned his drinking bothers me in the past but it usually upsets him and he defends his drinking as no big deal and doesn’t understand why I do. I have noticed in the last few years especially after about the 4th beer or so especially on an empty stomach that he gets argumentative and everything I say he takes offense to. His words start slurring and he becomes more like aggravated I guess would be the right description.

    I have discussed this with family members in the past and they seem to think I make a big deal out of nothing. On the weekends the beer makes an appearance by 10 or 11 am and goes on all day usually without food until later on in the day. He isn’t a fall down drunk that doesn’t work hard or function “normally” everyday.

    So, am I making a big deal out of this? Once he gets to the point of being argumentative or in a bad mood I just check out and don’t interact with him much as to not cause an argument. He is in his 60′s and done this basically all of his life but it really makes my life unhappy with him. When he isn’t drinking I love him and being around him….when he is drinking I can’t stand him!!!

  • Maria

    This is my exact issue and I struggle with it daily. To stay or go. I have decided to have a separate place, one in city(condo) one in country as every evening my anxiety level rises when I hear the first crack of the beer can.

  • patti

    I have been married for 40 years and for the last 15 years are so my husband has been drinking but lying about it always. I have found bottles hidden in the garage, between cloths in the closet, etc. I tried to confront him and advised him too explain to him that when he drinks he abuses me saying rude comments. I always know immediately that he has been drinking.

    I just got very tired of all his lies. I am 60 and cannot handle this mental abuse. It is so embarrassing around friends and families. I am coming from an Asian Indian family where marriage is more important. Luckily my kids are grown up, but they also aware of this. Every time he lies and puts me down for his problems.
    Help….

  • lori

    I have been married for 16 years to a functioning alcoholic with anger issues. Things have been bad for many years with verbal and emotional abuse, but in the past year, I feel the problems escalating. He told me that he was tired of living for everyone else and he was only going to do what makes him happy and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He quit a lucrative management job and is now a forklift driver, because he doesn’t want all that responsibility. He begins drinking at 4pm 7 days a week and drinks and average of 12 beers per night. He no longer remembers what was said or happened the night before and repeats nonsense all night long, picking on me and the dog and our two teenage sons.

    Christmas night, it was like a switch was flipped; he walked into the livng room, kicked a dog bone into the wall, slammed his beer down, glared at me and pointed his finger at me and said, “you!” very menacingly. He then didn’t speak to me for a few days. A week later he accused us of hiding his fishing knife to make him look stupid. The reason he wanted the knife was to open his pez candy! He slammed the candy in the door to open the package. He came out to the living room and said that I angered him to no end and that I was lucky that he was holding back.

    One more week passes and he hears me having a conversation about lunch money. He accuses me of not giving them money and says he needs to take charge. I mistakenly say to my son that would he please not talk about these things in front of his father and he EXPLODES. His face was purple and he was spitting while he screamed, “I hate your fing guts!” He had both fists about 6 inches from my face. He went on a tyrade that made little sense and he said that it was my fault that he was going to have to bring out the full arsenal.

    I ended up writing a letter for him to read while I was there that stated if our marriage was to continue, we would need individual and couples counseling and he would need to stop drinking. The only reponse I received was him asking me if the boys knew about my little note. He has never apologized for anything ever. We have not had sex in 8 months, but the sex we were having was very impersonal and he forced himself upon me doing things i said no to. The type of porn he likes is rape fantasy. He accidentally left a horrible pic up once on his 14 year old sons computer. To the outside world, the answer may seem obvious, buut when it’s you it’s not so easy. I do not make enough money for me and my boys and he made sure that the house and both cars are only in his name. 4 yrs. ago, he told me i was free to leave, but I would take his boys over my dead body.

  • Kay

    I have been married to an alcoholi for 11 years, but I haven’t realized until the last couple of years. I didn’t realize it because I drank too. We’re drinking buddies. But every time I try to quit, I realize that I have nothing in common with my husband except the alcohol. I try to leave, but I get scared and ultimately end up drinking again. And then everything is okay because I’m in a false bubble of reality.

    Well, I HAVE to quit now. My blood work on my liver did not come back good at all. I have to get an ultrasound, and I’m worried about what they will find. I’m only 32! But, if he can’t quit with me, I just don’t see how our marriage will survive. We have two kids. I have an overwhelming sense of guilt if I take them away from him. I don’t know what to do. All I know is that I’m not happy and the man that was to be my best friend is not even my friend anymore. I love him, but I don’t like who he is. Confused and Scared!!!!!

  • Bridgette

    In the past year, my husband has become a functioning alcoholic. His pattern is getting drunk once every week or two, but he drinks 3-4 drinks almost everyday. It only takes a couple drinks to give him awful mood swings, and he always drinks more than that when he’s stressed or angry. When I’ve tried to talked to him about it, he tells me to back off. He refuses to talk about it and starts yelling at me if I mention it at all.

    I have read Melody Beattie’s “Co-Dependent No More” and have been working on taking care of myself, and not enabling him. Over the last couple weeks, my husband has had a good attitude, no mood swings, but he’s still drinking everyday. He doesn’t think I know how much he drinks because he usually does it before I get home or after I go to bed. But I check the basement fridge everyday and can see what’s missing. I’m not really sure how to be acting now. It’s difficult to set boundaries when I don’t know he drank anything until the next day, and he’s acting normal. Should I say anything? Keep my mouth shut? Should I be concerned? I feel like I’m in limbo right now.

  • Jason

    Hi,

    My wife passed this site along to me about an hour ago. Its me to a “T”. I have repeatedly caused issues with my family and job, well, everything/everyone I come into contact with. I’m back in AA for a 2nd time and hope it works this time. I don’t wake up saying I want to make today as miserable as possible for everyone I see today, but that’s what seems to happen.

    What I’ve read about this post is whats happening (not daily); the wake of destruction (I’m not physically abusive, I’m a happy drunk) seems to go on for days. I want to read more of your information as well as the posts. I need to make it stick this time and I appreciate you putting this information on the net. Keep up the great work and hope to reply in the future that things are better for my wife and kids, as well as myself. Better yet, I hope my wife posts saying its better!

    Regards,
    Jason

  • Ace

    Thank you for your information. I appreciate it greatly. I married a brilliant man whom I didn’t know was a functioning alcoholic.

    Time has gone by, I wanted to leave, I had my business based in his town after we were married. The economy being what it was, I had to close it into our 3rd year. Four months later he lost his job and went on a bender.

    His progress towards sobriety began when he learned early in the year that his daughter would be having a baby boy. He will be sober for 8 months soon, and I thank God for that much.

    That said, there are still behaviors that continue; the blaming of others for things in his own control. Blames me for my not being employed, mind you , I am packing up the house to move right now as we are headed to a new town where I will be near resources for work and he will be in a better area for his business, as he is self employed now. I have tried hard for 2 years to get employment to no avail. I am 57 now and feel age profiling is alive and well.

    I am a woman of faith, I know he doesn’t truly mean the scathing things he says to me. I know I have value and I need love, warmth, and intimacy. It is my hope that these things will return to our marriage once he gets further into his path of success with his life. Meanwhile, I am looking for employment in my areas of interest and expertise. We need prayers and a financial blessing right now.

    I did attend Al-Anon Family group meetings for a few years and found them useless for ME, just as he said AA was useless to him. All nice people; the sharing important to learn I am not alone, but no REAL success stories, no REAL help regarding how to help myself and protect myself. I found out that 911 worked very well when needed, before he stopped drinking.

    I ended up buying Pax and Chris Prentiss’ book, “The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure” that approaches the disease from a Holistic approach. He cracked the binding only, but it is there if he ever wants to access the help it offers. Ideally I would love to have him admit to me what he has done and try to accept the responsibility and then move forward in his life. I crave adult topics, I crave adult friends, and I crave adult attention from my husband. I have read from experts in the field that the alcoholic reverts back in their mind to the “age” they were when they started drinking. When he pitches a hissy-fit and begins the blame game, it drives me crazy. As his wife, I’m waiting for the man I know is inside to show up some day. I hope it happens before he dies.

    Thank you for writing what you have in that book. I hope I get employed some day so I can buy it!

    Blessings to all respondents on this page!

  • Lisa

    Thank you for this information. I have been with a functioning alcoholic in a dating relationship for 8 years. He keeps telling me that when we live together and are married things will be different. I know better and have kept my own residence and avoided the next step. He doesn’t believe he has a problem, but I know he does and have decided to end the relationship for both of our sakes! Thanks for keeping my eyes open!

  • CA

    I came across this site today after an emotional episode today with my estranged husband. We have been married for 15 years, we dated 7 prior to marriage and have been separated for 4.5 years. I have been with him since I was 18 and now I am 39. I read several of these posts – I felt like I was every one of these ladies. I have filed for divorce. I n the last 4.5 years we have co-parented (why did I stay even after separation – hopeful maybe)– living somewhat separate lives, but sharing a house (so the kids (12 & 9) did not leave. We did on the days we did not have the kids (bird nesting). He has gotten a DWI, been arrested, this year alone. He has passed out on my kids by 8:30 pm on 3 occasions. My kids were taken from the home and taken back to my parents or his mom.

    Today after our episode (because I am now seeing someone new), he tells me I am the reason the marriage failed, not his alcohol. Not only was I his wife, but his mother. Up until I filed for divorce, I was still a caretaker to some degree. I am still allowing him to control my emotions. I left him crying instead of my head high. He loves me, but to this day he stops at an ABC Store to take the edge off. I struggle even now with why I was not enough for him to stop.

  • Fed-up

    I am in the same situation, but I knew this man was an alcoholic when I married him. We were both partying and drinking when we met. Now that I’m married to him, I am SO ready for a divorce. This man has been arrested at least 6 times for domestic violence and a DUI. He cant keep a job because he lets his drinking control him. He just lost his job yesterday of almost a year (that’s the longest he lasted). I knew he was going to get fired because he was going to work late all the time and then sometimes not even at all. He then tells me this is the time for him to get himself together, collect unemployment, and go to the Dr. because he is in pain all the time. Now I know when I come home from work, he’s going to be drunk all the time.

    I did not marry for this. I’m not going to live like this anymore. He has been driving me and my son CRAZY. I am fed up and leaving asap. I’ll pray for him and hope the Lord gives him the help that he needs because I cannot enable him any longer.

  • Olivia

    I am 37 years old and have been married for 18 years. We have three boys: 11, 16, 17. I now believe that my husband is a functioning alcoholic. I say this because he always told me that an alcoholic could not hold a job and work as hard as he does. Maybe he was right; I did not know what I was talking about. He said I was a weirdo.

    When we were first married, we were very young. He would smoke pot a lot and lie to me about it. When I would find his pot, he would tell me he was sorry, that he loved me more than anything, and would say he was stopping. This went on for years. I think that there was a point when he did stop smoking. He did not drink a lot then, it was every once in a while.

    My husband works with his brother who is a alcoholic himself, former crystal user. About five years ago my husbands father died. It was devastating. They were close, they worked with each every day. I noticed that he was drinking a little more. When he would come home from work, he would say he was going to go to see our son’s football practice. He lied. He would go to his brother’s house and drink (keep in mind he already had drinks with his brother when they got off work). I never thought this was the start of his drinking problem because at the time I did not know he was drinking after work as well. I am pretty sure he was smoking weed at work too. We lived about ten minutes away from his brother at the time, since then we have moved and now live one block away.

    Everyday my husband and his brother stop by the local liquor store, buy beer, and put it on their tab. Yes, their tab. I was shocked when I found out. There were times when we could not even buy dinner for our family, but he somehow was able to get beer. It makes me sick. When I would call my husband to see what time he was going to be home from work, he would say still on the job. Liar. He was sitting in his brother’s garage drinking. I would see his truck, we lived so close. This happens everyday, going on for over three years. I feel sick to my stomach everyday, I’m a nervous wreck, and scared. My kids hear so much fighting. I hate myself. My husband is verbally abusive to me. I have left a few times, but always come back. He would say he would cut down, he even went almost a month without drinking, but it never lasts. His brother is not helpful. My husband did admit when he stopped for that short time, he thought about drinking every second. I cannot take his lying, his $500.00 monthly tab, or his verbal abuse. He blames be for his drinking, our financial problems, everything. I am in the process of opening by own little business; he is not supportive, never was when I went to school. I am so heartbroken. I am lonely, depressed, and confused.

    He has never cared when I left. He tells me that I am trying to take everything he loves away. Ex: beer and World of Warcraft. He loves his beer more than me. It is so hard to hear the stuff he says to me. It is so hard to walk away from someone you love so much. We have been together since we were 16. I know I should not wait for someone to love and respect me. I don’t really have anywhere to go, no money. He says he does not want to be home because drinking is not allowed here, only at his brother’s. The truth is, he does not want me to see how much he really drinks. I am sorry for the arguing our children and neighbors hear. I try to talk to him, it always escalates when he starts putting me down. I don’t know what to do. I am sleeping on the couch, he only talks to me to complain about money. I have pleaded with him to put our marriage first and to work at it. I feel like an idiot for loving him so much more than he loves me.

  • Sharon

    I thought many times before getting into your web site. I thought you were a scam. My sincere apologies. I contacted you because my personal life was upside down. My husband for 5 years was going in the wrong direction. He got attracted by a mysterious woman at work and moved in with her for 4 months. I told you my problem and after a couple of weeks, I received your package. Things started to be as before; he came back to our house saying he doesn’t know what happened, and he was sorry about leaving. Our relationship is stronger than ever. Thanks.

    Sharon

  • I’ve been married to an alcoholic for 15 years. He is verbally, financially, and physically abusive. We cannot have a conversation about anything important because he does not want my opinion about the choice he already has made, but hasn’t yet shared with me.

    He changed jobs and has rented an apartment in a major city 2 hours from where we live. According to him, he made this decision because we weren’t talking. We weren’t talking because of his abusive behavior, so I think it was just another set up. One of the things he said about him being in another city during the week and traveling for work is that I won’t be able to “monitor his drinking”. I stopped doing that years ago. I told him several years ago that I would no longer be around him when he drinks, which is every night. He is choosing the alcohol over me and the marriage.

    I have decided that at some point while he’s gone, I will move. My adult children have all said that they want me closer to them and my grandchildren. I can’t take it anymore and I’m very sad that this man that I met in church, who showed me such care, love, and devotion for 2 years while dating is incapable of loving me or anyone else. I’m sad that this has to be the end of the marriage because he won’t stop drinking.

    My husband won’t miss me too much because he has spent the last 7 years signing himself up on adult dating websites (my fault he did that), watching porn on a regular basis (my fault he does that), and had an intense 3.5 year emotional affair with a woman he worked with. This woman happens to live in the same city he’s moving to, but nothing is going on with them.

    Lies, lies, and more lies. I’m torn with the amount of emotions of stress, sadness, and loneliness I’ve been experiencing for 15 years and I just want to end. I wish I could take a knife and cut the relationship ties with no more pain.

    Thank you for your website and articles.

    Gigi

  • Lynne

    Friends,

    Seems like many people want to know when to leave their life with an alcoholic. Good question. Ten years ago, I wondered the same thing. The answer to the question takes time. My journey took me ten years until I felt like I could and would make a decision to stay or go.

    It’s not easy. Everyone will go at their own pace until they decide. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have left the marriage. Today, I can and am. My heart and brain are aligned.

    Maybe it’s good that we take time – lots of time, if needed – to make the best decision for ourselves. Today, I can see myself in my new future. I’m not with my husband, but that’s okay. The point is I can see ME.

    Years ago, I read somewhere that my husband’s alcoholism is about him, not me. I didn’t understand that until recently. No matter what I did to try to change our world, it didn’t change the booze. Today I understand that drinking is not about me. It’s about him.

    Take time to decide what you want your life to look like in 10, 20, 30, etc years. And go for it.

    Good luck.

  • Mike

    I have been married for seven months. I knew my wife was an alcoholic. I told her I would not marry her unless she stopped for at least six months. She said she had and we got married. I thought she stopped for good.
    I found out she never did stop. She was in fact drinking the whole time. I took her to a rehab facility for one month and when she came out, it was no more than two months that she was drinking again.

    She drinks and thinks she is fooling me. I smell it constantly and see her behavior is odd, especially at night time. I feel she tricked me into marrying her by lying about the alcohol. I would have not married her had I known the drinking was still going on.

    I was married before and vowed to never divorce again. She has a 15 year old daughter that I have come to love and it breaks my heart that I see a divorce in our future. I struggle with the fact that I took a vow to the Lord, in sickness and in heath, but this was a total deception on her part. I struggle with this daily and I hate my marriage. I love her, but I regret my marriage.

  • I suppose that my case is less common, but maybe even worse then most cases. My wife is the alcoholic, she does not work and we have no kids. I’ve dealt with 18 years of verbal abuse almost every single night.

    She hangs out at her parents home, next door (parents are also alcoholics). She comes home around mid night, starts to pick a fight, puts me down, and hurts my feelings. I walk out of the bedroom and stay in the living room while she blasts the TV, occasionally coming out yelling some more and slamming the door. It’s a repeat every single night. I finally go to bed around 2 AM, to get up 6 hours later to try and work.

    When I come back home, I stop by her parents, by that time she is already drunk. I leave and go to our home alone, I fix the bed, cook supper, do the dishes, do the laundry, clean up the house, and go to bed. Minutes later, it’s around mid night so she comes over and the episode begins again. I told her that she is killing the little bit of love that I have left for her. There is no sex, of course. She reeks from the smell of alcohol, has poor hygiene, and she has become excessively over weight. I do not dare to go out alone with friends, otherwise that will make up for a good excuse to have a big fight when I get back. She blames me for everything and keeps reminding me that it was a big mistake from her part to have married me. So there are men out there who are victims and please believe me it is so hard. Any advise would be welcomed.

  • Carey

    Hi. I have been married to a functioning alcoholic for almost 6 years. When we dated, he and I would both drink socially, but we didn’t live together until after we got married, so I didn’t realize that his drinking was a full time thing for him. At first, it was pretty bad. He would drink three to four- forty ounces of beer daily, and some hard alcohol, and sometimes he got violent; beat me, pulled a gun on me, choked me, etc.. and then he would be sorry and I, being an idiot would stay.

    He has always kept a job, but blows a lot of our money on alcohol. Well I demanded that he quit drinking, and maybe for a day or two he will, and then he is right back to it, and now he is lying about drinking, or drinking before he gets home from work. He is now drinking 3- 24 ounce cans and a few shooters and gets buzzed every night after work. Tonight I told him I have had it, because I never see the man sober. We always fight about his drinking, and the money spent. So tonight I asked him, if it came right down to it, would he choose me, or the beer, and he said he would choose the beer.

    I am sick of him drinking in front of our 4 year old daughter, I am sick of him being the liquor stores number one customer, and I am angry because we struggle financially because he uses the money for booze, and I am sick of being scared that he might hit me again, so I am out. I can’t be second to a beer. Tonight after all this time, he actually admitted that he loves his beer more than me. I will struggle financially, but it’s better than being married to a beer can….

  • Vicki

    My 26-year-old son and I found out five days ago that my 59 year old husband of 30 years is a high functioning alcoholic when I took him to ER for medical problems and discovered his blood alcohol level was .33. We admitted him to detox that day and I am understandably having lots of emotions. To us, he was a light social drinker and a caring funny, but emotionally disconnected person.

    He’s in constant pain from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and says he began secret all-day drinking in his 30s to numb his pain. We’ve been in couples counseling for two years using emotionally focused therapy (EFT), but his emotional disconnect and rigid belief that he should be able to fix his physical and emotional issues by himself stalemated the process.

    He’ll be in detox for another five days and we’re headed to a family care conference Wednesday. We’ve been asked to bring a list of the ways his drinking has affected us, but since we only found out this week about his drinking, we don’t have some of the more traditional stories or reactions. It totally blindsided friends and family members too.

    This is a huge missing piece to the puzzle and besides feeling angry, hurt, sad, and hugely betrayed, I also feel relieved and somewhat hopeful. But my son is reeling ~~ his adored primary role model fell off the pedestal. He’s angry and hurt that he’s been lied to his entire life and yet at the same time, questions whether it’s really a big deal since the drinking was secretive and “maybe it hasn’t affected our family”. (Maybe not so ironically, that’s what my husband’s counselor says he’s saying while in 12-day detox).

    Life’s turned into a bad country-western song. Thoughts or suggestions how to approach our family care conference? Thanks.

  • I got married eight months ago. My wife was in rehab years ago. I did not fully know the facts of alcoholism. I don’t drink myself. We were married and within ten days she was drunk.

    We did not live together, so I didn’t know she had been drinking the whole time. She lied about her drinking so that I would marry her. I told her that until she stopped for at least six months, I would not marry her. In ten days of our marriage, she was drunk. She went to a second rehab.

    She has a 15 year old daughter that I fell in love with and feel like she is my own daughter. We get along so well. She is drinking again and I am not sure what to do. I was married before for 15 years and that marriage ended because we grew apart.

    For the first time, I am thinking about divorce. I think this is a lost cause to save my wife. I am lost at what to do or even where to start.

    Thank you,

    Mike

  • Mitzy

    Blame, blame and more blame. Perhaps that is why we question ourselves so much. About all the alcoholic can really do is drink and blame. This is called projection. They are the major dysfunction in your life, however, if they can get you to accept their blame (i.e. responsibility and responsibilities) rather than taking it oneself, they are “home free”.

    This is the addiction you have to free yourself from. The addiction to taking on way too much responsibility. I have learned to be accountable for MY mistakes (too much trying to figure out what was wrong with me, when in fact the alcoholic made most of life impossible to deal with and chaos the norm) but NOT make myself responsible to hide, fix, correct, or deal with HIS obvious mistakes.

    We get hooked into the “victim” stance, as we are responsible people. We give them power to VICTIMIZE us. If you have a weak area you can count on an alcoholic to utilize it as YOUR GUILT being bigger than his. Period.

    Soon it is all about what YOU do, not about what the alcoholic is doing that is damaging. When you “accept this or not”, the blame and shame on YOU, never stops. It keeps the issue of their drinking in the distance, not up front as the CAUSE and react problem MAKER.

    In short, alcohol is the problem, and the reactions to it are the symptom. An alcoholic reverses this to be the symptom (reaction) is the problem and that they drink because of it.

  • Beth

    I relate to so many of the posts here – wouldn’t know where to start. Maybe one silly question I have is what can be done to prevent all of this? The number of alcoholics increases, the number of traffic deaths due to alcohol increases. There is no good news here for anyone.

    I remember going to Al-Anon meetings and all I wanted to know was what I needed to do to get him to stop drinking. Pleading, crying, threatening, talking – nothing worked. And of course the first think we learn is we are powerless – great – that is hopeful! (sarcastic). And please do not misunderstand – that organization is doing so much to help people cope, see things in perspective and valuable to so many.

    I’m in a 35 year marriage – currently separated after the 3rd detox. He is Jekyll and Hyde. When sober, great, when drunk, not. Nothing unique here. Pretty much had written him out of my life. But the lingering hurtful comments – when I told him the bottle or the marriage you choose…his reply was, “So much for ‘for better of for worse’.”

    Then you have others that say this is a disease – if it were cancer would you leave him? I despise the guilt – it haunts me, eats at me all the time. I’m 60, recently lost my job – so to be able to do things with him – when sober – keeps me sane, but fool myself into well maybe we could be back together. Then he doesn’t call, doesn’t come over and when he finally resurfaces – my inside voice is screaming are you drinking. But of course I don’t say a word – as I don’t want to be accusing, don’t want to be attacking – and quite frankly don’t want to hear the lies. I am my own worst enemy. I am alone in my marriage, alone in my life, alone in my co-dependency. Drinking sucks – as one person said – the gift that keeps on giving – and it is never pretty.

    We as a society get so caught up in or rather have so much empathy and caring when horrific things happen like Sandy Hook, 911, etc – because they are so massive and heart wrenching. But everyday families, people are being destroyed by alcohol – and the long lasting effects of verbal abuse seem insurmountable.

    I’m obviously not healthy and not coping well and not an expert. I would say to anyone (even if I can’t do it) – to get out of the relationship. To go from being able to plan time together, a dinner, a weekend, a future – to then be cast into one minute at a time because you can’t count on anything – can’t have any expectations – it is all too much to bear.

  • Tony

    My wife had a home detox. She went 5 months sober. During Christmas and New Years, she drank some more. I immediately got her into a NHS rehab hospital where she did well.

    Social services and her ex (physical/mental abuser) have been on her mind since WAY before the first home detox. Now, her daughter due to social is ‘making charts’ as to when she sees the mum she loves.

    Nobody helped me, the husband who took on the two kids.

    In the morning I need to ring social and say she had a drink, because if I don’t and they found out they question me! (Due to New Year issue).

    I am going to have to leave this marriage.

    It is the hardest bit, but it is destroying me.

  • Salina

    I just had my husband arrested for shoving me because I was taking up for my son when he was screaming at him for not eating and being overly aggressive because he was drunk.

    We will have been married 6 years next month.

    My husband has been drinking since he was a teenager. His older brother, mom and dad are also functioning alcoholics. Which is the problem. How can he recover when he has no support system beside me? I can’t be around him anymore because of his anger and now his anger towards our 5 year old son.

    My husband drinks a rum and coke until he is good and drunk about 3 to 4 times a week…. every week… and he hasn’t been physically abusive but other than this time. But defiantly emotionally abuse throughout our marriage.

    How can my husband recover, which he has admitted he has a problem when I cannot be there for him in the process and he basically cannot be around his family if he has any chance of making it?

    I love my husband so much, but for my sons sake I have to. I got a restraining order out for myself and my son and I feel like I’ve ripped his whole life out from under him and now the only people he has to turn to is his alcoholic family which is why he is like this in the first place.

  • Rosanne

    I am an emergency room nurse. My husband is a functional alcoholic, but denies an alcohol problem. I am so concerned about his health. Mind you, he is loving, kind, cooks, makes good money, etc., but he is starting to have health issues. If I say nothing, all is great. If I bring up his health or drinking there is a fight.

    He is getting that red face bulbous nose. He is so handsome, but it’s ruining his looks too. I see so many people die with liver disease. He also smokes 2 packs a day. It is killing me to watch him be ill. I love him dearly and just see my life as the caretaker of a sick man in the future.

    Our sex life is dwindling. He usually falls asleep, correction passes out on couch. He does work hard. I guess I’ll just stay and keep my mouth shut and work as a travel nurse, etc. in the future to not be around as much. This way I don’t have to watch him destroy himself. I do feel sad and lonely, but no one really seems to care.

  • Artimus

    My husband is a binge drinker and has been doing it for the last 4 years. He even landed in the hospital because he had passed out. I find it hard to go on as I don’t know how to help him. I am 37 years old and would like to have a child. I have tried to talk to him, but he cant seem to stop. Is it time to end this marriage?

  • It’s a very messy situation to deal with when the person you love turns into a monster. But the monster isn’t them, it’s just the bottle. I suppose at the end of the day you need to acknowledge the fact that it is the PERSON that makes the choice. Just like you are the PERSON who decides whether or not it is worth sticking around for.

  • To Lori and any others waiting to leave: LEAVE NOW!!! I have been married to my “functioning alcoholic” for 14 years. The last 5 have been miserable. No one but me really sees his bad side, so he hides it well.

    We have been through the painful cycle of me saying I have had enough, him promising to change, changing for a few weeks, then back to the same old thing. He denies that he has a problem, but I would find a fifth of Vodka hidden (his car, his briefcase, the garage) at least weekly. That is just when I decided to look. That became an obsession with me, even though I knew he was drinking, I had to find it to feel justified in confronting him.

    Outwardly people think we are a model family in our beautiful home with a beautiful child and beautiful things. But I am just sad and lonely. Last year we had our biggest blowup ever and I pretty much decided that was it. I saw an atty, started getting my finances in order, but actually doing it is just too difficult. He started an outpatient rehab a few weeks ago (of course I don’t think it will work). But really I don’t even care at this point. There has been so much anger. I really just don’t LIKE him as a person any more.

    I am 45, my daughter is 12. I am angry that I have wasted some prime years of my life, and believe me, I think it would have been much easier to leave when my daughter was 8 or 9. Now she knows too much and I think she will be really angry with me. He covers well and she would think there was no good reason for me to leave. He thinks because he is in this program I should be kissing his feet and all is forgiven, which pisses me off even more. So, the moral of this story is, don’t wait, leave, now. I am angry that I didn’t sooner and I still don’t know what I am waiting for. I hope he changes, but too much damage done now and he really will never admit he has done anything hurtful to me (including all of his love notes to an old girlfriend on numerous occasions). Has anyone else tried to get over the anger?

  • Mary

    I have been married to an alcoholic for about 10 months. We have been together for 10 years. He is a binge drinker and has stopped drinking for a couple months at a time, but then always starts again. He has never abused me. I never realized how bad he was until I moved in after we got married.

    After these last 8 months of lies about drinking, he finally agreed he has a problem. He will only do AA online, which I think he needs much more help. I feel like he is doing the AA to please me and not doing it for himself. He has been sober for about 6 weeks. I am having a hard time deciding if I should leave or not. I love him, but I don’t know if I can live with the unknown for the rest of our lives. I have a lot of anger towards him for putting me through all of this. I don’t know if I will ever be able to trust him again.

  • Colleen

    We have been married 25 years. He has been an alcoholic since he was a teen, but I kept making excuses for it; he will grow up and out of it, he’s depressed, he has anxiety etc… He also has depression and anxiety since age 14, so alcohol was his attempt at self medicating.

    He had to stop working 3 years ago due to a nervous breakdown and doubt he will ever work again. He was a hard worker, compulsively so. Now a medication has taken away his suicidal thoughts, first time since age 14, but the drinking is getting worse. I have gotten tough and told him we cannot do this anymore and said we need to part if he cannot help himself or accept help and reduce his drinking to a max of two nights a week.

    He won’t try AA again and won’t go to counseling. He also won’t leave the house. My 17 year old son and I have no where to go and I cannot pay bills for this house and afford to rent another. He is disabled, so something tells me I will be looked at as the bad guy in court, not him.

    I don’t stay in the same room now anymore when he drinks and go about my business. I’m done doting and I’m done enabling. I just don’t know how to make him leave or how we can get out of this. I don’t mean to sound harsh but I’m so very tired. Do you know what it’s like to have had to hear him beg me after ECT treatments to not do that to him anymore? Then they finally find a drug that helps and he drinks even more? It’s a slap in the face. I don’t think he loves me, I think he thinks he needs me is all.

  • Maggie

    Hello Dr. Neill,

    I’m praying that you will reply to me. I know there are a ton of replies and comments here. I’ve been married for 17 years and together 22 years, since teenagers. I love my husband very much, he is a decent guy. He has been drinking for about 3 years and he is a bar drinker. He goes from bar to bar. Can you please explain why?

    I think that one of the hardest things about being married to a functioning alcoholic is understanding them. I don’t understand why he has lost interest sexually, when at one time it was the most important thing to him. He is so cold towards me…he says there is this wall that has been built towards me. Am I wrong for saying that he is magnifying everything about me to take focus off of the real problem, his drinking?

    He refuses to get help. He recently got his first DUI and he is still drinking and driving. He is so angry with me. I don’t constantly remind him of his drinking, but when he decides to stay out at the bar, which is almost daily unless he has no money to drink, then he buys a few tall cans and comes home to drink. I feel so used, he spends no time with us, he’s never home in the evenings, and is with his friends more. What is so crazy is that he seems totally fine with this! I tell him this in that, not fighting and you can see he understands, but he seems really fine with being so selfish. Is it because he has been able to have both, his drinking and his family waiting for him here. I try not to lash out at him, but it is so hard. I’ve learned so much about myself through this.

    Where is his anger coming from? Am I a punching bag for his problems? He says he will not stop drinking. Please give me some insight! Thank you.

  • Dear Maggie,

    I can’t make a diagnosis, but it is obvious that your husband has much deeper problems than his drinking. He goes to bars to avoid you. He drinks at home to avoid you. As you say he is lost interest.

    This kind of situation usually means that the man does not want to be in the marriage. He stays because he is looked after, and he stays because he does not want to confront the underlying issues that he is masking with alcohol. Many men in this situation regard themselves as victims (of alcohol, of life, of marriage, etc.) Victims do not make the decision to leave the marriage, no matter how badly they want it to end. Instead, they continue on their alcoholic paths without regard to their spouses’ emotional well-being, with the secret hope that the spouses will leave them. That way they can say, “poor me, my wife abandoned me.”

    Maggie, I am not saying this pattern definitely applies to your husband. It is only a possibility that you might consider.

    Regardless, you deserve better than this.

  • Shelly

    These posts have helped me realize that I am not alone. Like many of you, I am so confused. We have been together for 15 years and have three children ages 12, 9 and 4. He is a functional alcoholic and has only been sober for about 6 months of the 15 years, after an accident that caused a TBI, broken bones, etc. He was only sober because he was in the hospital and therapy for about 2 of these months. I said if he started drinking again I would leave, but didn’t.

    He starts drinking when he comes in from work and doesn’t stop until he goes to bed. He doesn’t eat with us or attend any kind of function with me or the kids after work (he can’t drink). Since we have been married I have obtained a master’s degree and consider myself successful. He has done nothing to better himself. I want to leave, but would be out with nothing! Everything is in his name and I pay for it. I sometimes wonder why I enable him so much. I am also so scared for my children to not continue living the lifestyle they have now. Would they hate me for leaving their dad? Would they thank me for freeing them from a dad who doesn’t listen to them or talk to the? The most interaction they get from him is in the morning when he helps them get ready for school. He denies everything and makes me feel like the bad one. Not sure if divorce is necessary. Help!?

  • Cathy

    I have been married almost 33 years old to a “functioning” alcoholic. He is at this time, not drinking after a DUI 3 years ago. This was a wake up call although a little late. The past 6 years were probably the worst in my life. His alcoholism worsened over the past 15 years to where he was drinking every day to the point of falling down, being abusive verbally. I coped through escape, I just let him drink and didn’t address it, but made sure I steered clear of him.

    My children thought it was “funny” at times because he has a very funny sense of humor, but I always found that I was usually the “butt” of his humor. Eventually I just couldn’t stand to be around him and the next day when he was sober I was still angry and he could not understand why I had no desire to have any kind of relationship with him.

    He was an executive bringing home a good salary, so how could I complain? He was providing well for the family and all I wanted to do was escape, so I did through depression. You just don’t get a divorce in my family. So when he became unemployed his first time, 8 years ago, he really went on a bender. It was at the time he was turning 50, so he was unbearable. Finally after 10 months, he went for the first job that was offered him in a state all the way across the country. I wasn’t crazy about it because I had my youngest child still in high school and I didn’t want her to finish high school in a strange city without her friends. We stayed in CT while he went to live in AZ. That’s not the beginning of the trouble, of course, but it was like the beginning of the end. He was free to do what he wanted because he only would come home for visits about once a month so all the other times he was living high on the hog, with all kinds of freedom to get into all kinds of trouble. And trouble he found.

    He hung out in bars and seemed to be attracted to the low life type of people that you find there. They were all poor, where he was “rich” with all kinds of cash to make “friends” with. Thus began his downfall. I had no idea any of this was going on. That he was frequenting strip clubs, having a questionable relationship with another woman who was younger than me. She was using him to pay her rent or whatever else she could get him to pay. All I knew was that every time my husband came home, he was more different and distant. I got the feeling on the few times we came to visit him to look at homes that I was invading his territory, but I just thought like every other time we had been separated in his career, everything will be better when we are all living together and get back to normal.

    But in those times, he was not a severe alcoholic. He had a kind of God complex thinking he was solving all these poor peoples problems with all his money and he even lent someone $6000 from our retirement of which we had a 50% tax liability. I don’t think his brain was functioning on a high level. Finally when we moved, the very first night I realized it was a mistake. He proceeded to shower and dress and leave his 2 daughters and wife at home while he went out with his “friends” All this continued for many months and years with the inappropriate relationships and not coming home at night until early in the morning. I even went as far as to find out where he was and go there with my adult children to bring him home. He and his friends would berate us.

    Well lets just say I behaved like an idiot trying to hold on to this relationship with someone who obviously neither loved nor respected me. He went so far as to get his own checking account because I was questioning his spending and large bar tabs. I threatened divorce and of course could not give him up. He began taking my bipolar daughter with him so as to assuage any guilt he had about not spending time with his family and brought her into his world. She would come home drunk and tell me how I was just jealous because he didn’t want to take me anywhere. Then they had a falling out and she told me I wouldn’t believe the stuff he was doing. I had suspicions. At the time my elderly mom had moved in with us because he thought she should…so I felt stuck with no way of getting out of an unhappy relationship. So I stayed.

    Another beginning of the end was a family wedding. A beloved niece was marrying someone no one was really happy about. We decided that we loved her and would support her decision by traveling to her wedding. We had planned our trip for months and the night before we planned to go, he would not come home from the bar. I begged him to please come home because he had not packed anything. He said he would call our niece and tell her she shouldn’t get married because he didn’t like the guy and he didn’t believe in marriage. He had stopped wearing his wedding band. Eventually he came home and my daughter went out to meet him in the car and discovered he and his idiot friends had taken him to ride a horse. Well he doesn’t even know how to ride a horse and the horse bucked him off causing him to break several ribs. He thought that he could make the trip if he just laid down and get some rest. I insisted he needed to go to ER because if he had broken ribs that could have serious complications. I was livid as no one had finished packing. We spent forever in the ER, almost missing our flight.

    Needless to say the wedding he wanted to stop went on without a hitch. He missed a week of work and I’m sure his boss thought he was a complete idiot. We had another planned trip for months with my sisters family to go to Disney World. This is not a vacation that one would take lightly. It is expensive, once in a lifetime (at least for me as I am not a frivolous person because I grew up very poor) and family bonding experience. At the last minute he decided he wasn’t going and stayed home with my elderly mother. By that time, my bipolar daughter had spent time in a mental health facility brought on after a “friend” of his attacked her, so she was onto his games and tricks. They spent time arguing and fighting frequently because she had absolutely no respect for him. My youngest daughter was just trying to survive in a very dysfunctional home playing peace make like me. We came home to him leaving within 15 min after getting back from vacation. He was gone over night. He came back but after that everything went rapidly down hill.

    I was onto him about this one particular woman. I knew there was an inappropriate relationship emotionally, but I really had no proof about physical relationship. To make a long story a little shorter, he eventually lost his job, got a DUI, never found employment, stopped drinking, lost all his retirement, lost our home. He has been out of work 3 1/2 years and I don’t know why, but I am still married to him.

    Right now I feel like I just woke up and started thinking, “What the hell has been wrong with me? Why didn’t I leave him 6 years ago when he really didn’t want us to come move with him to AZ?” My daughters have been unable to finish college as we have been without income, insurance, and been on food stamps. My life is ridiculous. I think if I had divorced him, I would’ve probably got a settlement from him in divorce, gotten a job, stayed where we were which was not where I am right now.

    My daughters have a very poor relationship with their Dad even though he has stopped drinking and started going to church and trying to find a job and telling everyone he is different. No one trusts him. The respect and love they had for him is gone. I don’t think he would be alive had he gone down here to be on his own because before he stopped drinking he was having significant health problems and his brain was beginning to go. Maybe if I had been strong and smart enough they would have maybe a dead dad, but have better memories of him. I would be maybe not happier, but at least I would respect myself because I stepped out to protect myself and my daughters.

    6 years ago, I was in the middle of an alcoholic and abusive husband, mid life crisis, being drug down to this level. I would tell any woman or man that is in this kind of relationship to RUN FOR THE HILLS. You absolutely do not have to put up with it or tolerate it. Even if you leave for a while and then come back after they stop drinking. Don’t stick around and get drug down into it. Don’t think you have to stay together to keep family together. Save yourself and your children from this. The alcoholic is selfish and doesn’t care about anyone, not even themselves. They just care about the alcohol and you become a victim of it’s effects. You need to get out while you can and if you need to give them one more chance, give them ONE more chance. But no more than that.

    I thought I had married a good one. Someone who loved me, loved our children, loved our life together and in the end, the alcohol became more &and more important than anything. He would not listen to me telling him it was going to kill him or us or he would end up with a DUI and it would ruin all our lives. There really isn’t any reasoning with an alcoholic. They need to go to rehab, attend AA and go through therapeutic counseling to help heal the addiction. And if I could afford it right now, we’d all be in family counseling because we need it.

  • Tomma

    I have been married for 30 years and although I love him very much, I can not do this any more. He is a functioning alcoholic. I am so lonely and afraid of what I am about to face, mostly because of the financial hardship I will be dealing with. We have been together since I was 17. I pray for each one of you on this blog. My husband admits he is an alcoholic, but he throws out a lot of issues in the same breathe that we (I) should be dealing with. I am tired of being the third person in my marriage.

  • Claire

    I am grateful for the heartfelt stories I’m reading here. I thought that I was alone. There is no benefit to telling people about your personal issues with an alcoholic until you are ready to act. Even then, there is much to lose.

    I AM HOPING FOR AN HONEST ANSWER ABOUT REHAB OPTIONS FOR MY HUSBAND WHO DOES WANT TO QUIT.

    I have read much about the current alcohol rehab programs and I don’t see many good options.

    –It seems like the 12-step programs are all preying on people’s weaknesses. Instead of empowerment, they seem to ask for surrender to God. So that’s not going to work for us.

    –Counseling seems to be a revolving door too.

    Can you give us your insights about aversion therapy to the sight, taste, and smell of alcohol? There is a program that claims to be more successful. We are looking for the greatest chance of success and for my husband’s freedom from craving. Beyond that, I will leave before I watch him die.

    Thank you for your response.

  • Teresa

    I am totally devastated. I have been with my husband for 7 years and we have 3 children. Approximately 6 weeks ago my husband was verbally abusive to our children and I whilst under the influence of alcohol and he then left. Within a week he returned home stating that he had stopped drinking and was sorry. Two weeks passed in which I still thought he was secretly drinking and I then found out during the one week away he had a one night stand.

    For the past 6 years, I have been trying to plead with him to stop drinking. He goes a couple of days without drinking and then resumes again quite heavily. He drink drives without me knowing, drinks in the day and is frequently verbally abusive when he has “drank too much”.

    After I found out about the one night stand, he begged and pleaded to try again, went to work and then never came home. This was three weeks ago. Since this, I have phoned/text him numerous times per day begging him to come home and stop drinking. He ignores all of my calls/texts and on the rare occasion he did answer, he said he left me because of the guilt of having a one night stand and being an alcoholic and that I deserve better. He is so cold to me as though I am the alcoholic and cheat.

    I now will not contact him. All the times before he has come back, but he now has a flat that he is due to move into. It is though he has cut me and the children out cold and moved onto a new life and has got a flat. Friends report that they see him in various pubs, totally drunk and then he gets in the car and drives! He even had the cheek to come to my home two days ago to show me the paperwork for a flat just to hurt me more.

    I need help. I am really struggling to move on. I can’t understand why one minute he was begging and pleading and then he fled and cut contact dead. I keep remembering the good times and how much we were in love. He now tells me he needs “time and space” to work out what he wants and that he is not sure whether he loves me. I am depressed, had 2 weeks off work and every second of the day I am in agony as my heart bleeds with pain. I loved him so much, offered to support him, to go to the doctors, etc.

  • Marc

    I am a recovering functioning alcoholic. I have been married 32 years and have five children (only two still at home). I quit drinking 6 months ago after 15 years of heavy drinking. I joined AA, have a sponsor, and I see a substance abuse counselor on a regular basis. I also joined a gym, started working out and have lost quite a bit of weight.

    The stimulus to quit was when my wife moved into a separate bedroom in the house and told me she was done with me. While I have been self destructive and verbally abusive, there was never any physical violence and the actual arguments were not all that common. I still don’t know where my marriage will end up, but I still love my wife very much and want her in my life. I cant imagine loving anyone else and can’t imagine living without her.

    I realize and understand this is my fault and I deeply, truly regret the mess I have made of my marriage. I have made these changes and will do anything to make things better between us, to get back to the way we were. I pray to God constantly to soften her heart. Unfortunately, the damage may be too much, as none of the changes I have made seem to have any affect. My heart is aching as I write this and my eyes are tearing. May God bless you and keep you and get you through your troubled times.

  • Suzie

    Hi. I have been married to an alcoholic for 20 years. He has heart disease, COPD, hepatitis c, and stage 2 fibrosis. I am very lonely, and tired. I do work part time, out of the home and full time in the home. We have 2 older children who are grown, a 13 year old son, and 5 young grandchildren. Our 13 year old son was left with us at 11 days old…by my sister who could not raise him, so we adopted him. My husband treats and gives him what he wants and I have to do all the discipline. Therefore, he wants me to go away so he can get his way. I love him, he and my grandchildren, and children are partly why I am still in this marriage. I would love to leave, start a happy, peaceful life…if only he did not have me tied down to having no vehicle, no extra money.

  • Tajana

    I’ve been with my husband 30 years, married for six. My husband comes from a family of drinkers. My husband drinking has affected our marriage so much we no longer share a bed. We sleep separate because we stopped having relations, so I figure why share a bed. I’ve spoken to my husband about this. He would rather have his beer or vodka. I just want to know how do I get him away from me? All we do is argue about his drinking. I’m tired, but he wants me to believe I can’t make it without him and yes we have four grown children.

  • Kate

    My husband isn’t what I’d call a functioning alcoholic when he’s in his drinking phase. As a matter of fact, he ceases to function at all every two weeks or so. If he has work, he skips and stays home drinking and watching porn all day. Or sleeping. The two weeks he isn’t drinking, he’s likeable, but I can’t bring myself to get from likeable to comfortable around him and sure as heck not to the point of re-initiating any sort of physical relationship with him.

    He will be passed out drunk for a week straight, every two weeks, and cease to function — no shower, eating out of cans and leaving them everywhere. It’s ridiculous. He needs serious help and refuses. He’s been through court ordered treatment, no help. I have been diagnosed OCD and what is one of my obsessive compulsive fixations? Getting him to get up and go to work when he doesn’t. I can’t stand seeing him laying around drunk.

    I guess if there was ever someone who needed to leave an alcoholic, it’s probably me. Add Crohn’s Disease and pseudotumor headaches to my mix and my husband is more than I need. Did I mention I also have two 6 year olds? They don’t need to be subjected to him either. He is irresponsible and untrustworthy. I need him out and don’t know how to do it. I honestly don’t see how there is a chance this can ever change for the better.

  • Jean

    I’m attempting to help my niece and her husband through their recovery. They moved in with me in January with the promise that they were recovering and clean. I found out a week ago that was a lie (it is now July), they have moved from alcohol to drugs. I told them they had to leave, they both committed to recovery again and I insisted my niece’s husband find a sober living home while my niece stays with me to recover. They committed to this, he found and moved into a sober living home last week.

    I expressed to them that I thought it best to keep contact between them to a very minimal, only family emergencies as they both needed to focus on their recovery instead of each other (they have been addicts together for probably close to 10 years, have lost their children to CPS and have lost their homes and pretty much all their belongings to the pawn shops — note, all other family ties for them are some sort of alcoholic or drug user, including their parents).

    My question is this — is it important for them to keep the contact at a minimum if they do in fact want to work on their own recovery? They both need AA/NA and counseling, but I believe they should be going to separate meetings so the focus is on their own recovery and not spending time with each other and possibly being drawn back into the addiction world together.

  • Gra

    Hi. First of all thanks for this article. I think it is great and all the responses are fantastic, I guess everybody has a story to tell.

    Secondly, I am actually a high level functioning alcoholic in the process of recovery, however I can tell you from my perspective or the other side as you may wish to call it, that I do not disagree with anything you or any of the comments because in the main it is all true.

    The first step for any alcoholics out there is to admit the problem, say sorry to those you have hurt, verbalize what you are going to do then ACT upon it. Actions speak louder than words as words are cheap especially with an alcoholic, but the important thing too is that is is only us who can make the change and then it gets reflected back at you like a mirror.

    Thanks to all of you for the article and the comments and your stories

    One final thing, I have been googling about my disease and I read an article which is very true which essentially said (paraphrasing here) that always remember that the booze just exacerbates a persons personality, so if they are a prick they will just become a bigger prick, if they are a nice person then they will be nicer, etc so take heart in that.

    Once again thanks.

  • Tiffany

    I am a recovering alcoholic. I have caused my husband, father of my two daughters, a lot of pain. He is extremely resentful and angry. He constantly lashes out in anger. I’m at a lost as to what to do. Do you have words for an apology? It just seems every time I try to apologize it comes out wrong. He says he doesn’t know if he still wants to be with me. We will be married 11 years in November. Do you have a book that you would recommend him to read? He refuses to go to counseling. Do you have any alternatives? Thank you.

  • Cathy

    I found this article interesting and informative. I have been married to a functioning alcoholic for almost 33 years.

    I think his addiction started out much like how it is described in the article and slowly developing into an addiction. I grew up in a home with a functioning alcoholic and although my dad was an alcoholic he was basically a good human being. My husband not so much. My dad remained loyal to his family and would do anything for us. He never drank the paycheck or deserted us or played the game of not coming home. He drank too much and too often, but I never felt unsafe and insecure. Granted, there was the cover up and the enabling, but it was nothing like what I have dealt with in my marriage, especially the past 10-15 years.

    When my husband’s career was at it’s pinnacle, he was a raging alcoholic at home. At first, he was not cruel or abusive, but he would drink till he fell down or stumbled into the bed at night. It would not happen every night, but we couldn’t go out to eat unless we went to a place that served alcohol. He always had to have beer available. His addiction eventually went from beer to whiskey to vodka.

    As the years went on and his unhappiness and health became worse he became verbally or sometimes physically abusive. He was emotionally abusive most of the time. When he was “awake” and sober everything was fine. I enabled him and overlooked the bad part because he made a 6 figure salary and my kids were young and I was able to stay home and be available. There was great dysfunction, but I traded it all for being financially comfortable and being able to care for my children.

    As the years went on, everything worsened until I was intensely unhappy as was he and when we were separated for 7 months while he went to start working in a new city half way across the US, I stayed at our home while my last child graduated from high school. I had watched him come home every month with a change in attitude and distance that began toward myself and my daughters. I didn’t think of not moving with him. That had never been an option before, we just moved wherever his job was and this time was no different. What a mistake. I moved into a new home in a state I wasn’t crazy about moving to and into a situation I had no idea had developed and a situation I was ill equipped to deal with. My husband had developed a relationship with a woman, among several women, this one was the most serious. She was a alcoholic, unmediated bipolar who lived in a trailer park. She didn’t have custody of her own children because she was a terrible mother, so basically this woman was the opposite of me and younger.

    The first night we moved in, he took off for a night of fun, leaving his wife and children at home alone. Thus began our life of hell. 6 years later, our life is in ruins. This woman is not in our life anymore but the affects of her are still resounding. Foolishly, I remained with my husband when I could’ve left him and had some kind of financial security I chose to try to “save” my marriage so my children would not “lose” their dad. We went through the kind of hell that is imaginable to people who have a cheating husband and an alcoholic on top of it; my grown daughters crying into the phone begging for him to just come home from some woman’s house.

    Now we have no life, no money, no home, nothing. His alcoholism caused us to lose everything. How I wish I had chosen to just leave his sorry behind years ago when his abusive bullying began. I was a stupid foolish woman thinking I was making sure I was taking care of my children. So stupid. My husband finally got his DUI and without any counseling or help stopped drinking. When I saw a person on TV admit he was an alcoholic, I asked him if he would go to AA and admit he was an alcoholic. He just looked at me and said, “I am not an alcoholic.” I said, “You will always be an alcoholic. You are just a dry alcoholic.”

    He is trying to start over and rebuild relationships with his daughters and with me. We pretty much hate him. We are just waiting to become financially able to leave and hopefully just rid ourselves of his addictive behaviors because he’s not drinking, but he just transfers it to other things that he is addicted to. I asked him to go through family therapy or some kind of help for himself, but he refuses. I don’t want to hold a grudge, I just am ready to move on which I wished I had done 10 years prior before all this fell apart completely.

  • Violet

    I ran… after 2 years of an otherwise perfect dreamy relationship. There was one situation I could not deal with. I have two young girls. I moved back home to finish school. I am a 28 year old single mother. I met my fiance at a bar! He is a auto mechanic, had his own place, funny, attractive, etc.

    About 6 months after we began dating I seen for the first time his binge drinking! He doesn’t drink everyday, but once every few months he drinks for 8-9 days straight and doesn’t even go to work! He never gets fired because it is a family business. And up until this very last time, I always rescued him from himself. I was about to move in with him to his house this last binge. He blames me for his drinking and at the same time asks for my help to sober up. I feel bad for not helping because he doesn’t have anyone else. But I cannot let his self destructive behavior destroy me. I have enough responsibilities to deal with and mothering a 40 year old drunk is not on my agenda.

    I was just wondering if binge drinking is really alcoholism or if perhaps it is a mental disorder. Could he be suicidal? Should I feel guilty for walking away this time, leaving him to sober up on his own? Is there any chance he will ever change? Or should I continue to stray? After all I didn’t move back home to fall in love and get married. The irresponsible behavior is hard to love. But I am human so part of me wants to help. Today is day 10 of his most recent binge… what if he doesn’t stop? What if he dies? Would I blame myself? After all he has helped me a lot… I just cannot put my children in a drunken household. He is not their father… I have no ties with him.. should I continue to stand my ground? I am new to this… Please help.

  • Lynn

    We have been married for 23 years, together for 30. We have two children ages 20 and 16. My husband is the greatest guy, he would do anything for anyone, he works at least 60 hours a week, never taking a day off or a vacation unless he was made to. He provides for us, pays the bills on time, has never been verbally abusive to any of us, and he drinks anywhere from 2 to 12 beers each and every day for at least the last 20 years. Honestly, the only time I can remember him NOT drinking everyday was when he had surgery and was in the hospital for 4 days.

    Before his current job, he owned his own construction business. No matter what time he came home, it was always because he was doing a job. This has now carried over to this job and whatever time he got home, I just accepted it. This past week I decided on my way home from work to drive past his work, also driving by the bar that all the guys go to. There sat his car, it was 6:15. I texted him asking what time he was off, I finally received a response at 7 saying he was just walking to the locker room and was going to stop at a store on the way home. He got home around 8:15. He no longer comes into the house when he gets home, he goes directly into the garage where there is a fridge filled with beer. That way if I smell it on him, it’s because he just drank one when he got home. So I went to him and asked what time he got off, he said 7, the time he texted me. I let him know that I had driven by his work and the bar and their was his truck. He had nothing to say except, BIG DEAL. Deep down I have always know that he does this almost on a daily basis, but I never caught him in the actual lie. I never, in all the years together have given him the ultimatum of drinking or being a part of this family. He has not spoken to me since and he continues to drink.

    We have been to marriage counseling in past years, drinking was brought up, but as a side note. He feels all of our issues are due to lack of sex on my part, I truly have no desire. I sleep with a pillow between us because I can’t stand the smell and I have now recently noticed his hands shaking in the AM, which I’m guessing is due to him needing the drink.

    We have a great group of friends, but most of the guys are all heavy drinkers, the only difference is that they do not drink daily. He has an older brother and uncle who are alcoholics and I fear that our 20 year old is heading down that road. I do not ever see him quitting drinking, as others have said, he just likes the taste of beer.

    I’ve always used the kids as an excuse to stay, but know I can no longer do that. I think I know what I need to do, but actually doing it is the scary part, he is all I have ever known. Unfortunately, I am truly no longer in love with him and me prolonging this is destructive to myself and my children.

    I want to help him get better, but he needs to want it and from what I see, he does not. I guess my question would be, if he finally admits to wanting help, should I stay and help, go back to counseling to maybe fix us?

  • Tammy

    Dr Neill,

    I really hope you can give me guidance. My husbands’ step father, whom he was close to, died three years ago. We have been together 20 years, since 17, and married for 14. Since his step father’s death, he withdrew from me, we always talked a lot, were close. He had an emotional affair with a coworker that I found three months into it- he still talks to her platonic-ally.

    His drinking increased after the death and he drinks 10-12 beers every weeknight and more on weekends. He sits in garage and smokes cigars and drinks. I’ve been told when he is drunk or I confront the drinking he doesn’t know if he wants to be married, wants to be totally alone. Then within even a couple hours he changes his tune and is loving to me. He suggested renewing our vows two months ago and buying a new house, but yet then says he is not sure he wants to be married. He was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. Within two weeks of taking medication and not drinking, the relationship was great, he was happy and consistent in wanting me and marriage. Even without medication last year and just not drinking for six weeks, he was an awesome husband to me, it was like honeymoon.

    Our marriage was not perfect before, but we always had love and good times. He says he hasn’t been himself the entire marriage, as he was afraid I’d leave him….

    Three years of roller coaster and I stayed and worked on myself and being a better partner. I’m in Alanon and detaching from mentioning his drinking. He just uses that opportunity to drink more. We have a great time together doing something, he comes home and drinks. I have said to him calmly, “If you want to divorce, I will make it easy. I don’t want you to stay if you don’t want to.” He then steps up and says I want marriage etc….he starts outpatient rehab next week- his choice after I told him I can’t deal with this anymore.

    I’m happy he is doing this, but I don’t think he accepts fully he has an issue. He blames me for things he tells his friends he isn’t sure what he wants, not about another woman, wants kids with me- please note I told him if he got healthy I will have kids, yet he uses that excuse….we are 37, I don’t have much time left and I would never have a child to keep my husband. His dad is alcoholic and abandoned his family and my hubby has a lot of pain from that, yet he blames me for everything.

    I can’t figure it out- is it the marriage or the alcohol causing his feelings? I get so confused when he pulls me in and then pushes me away. My therapist thinks he has borderline personality disorder. I feel like a fool.

  • Tara

    Hello. My name is Tara and I have been living with my alcoholic boyfriend for close to 3 years. I have asked him to go repeatedly, but he just gets mad then drunk again and when he sobers up, acts like nothing was ever said.

    The stress and tension is killing me. In June, I became his surety (not knowing what that actually meant). The rules set out for him were no drinking and he has to be with me every night between 10pm and 8am. This has been the absolute worst summer ever because he never stopped drinking at all and I had to have him here. The only way out for me is to call the cops on him and he will go to jail, go to court and say I can’t be it anymore, and since no one else will do it he will go to jail or wait it out until the court case is done.

    There is also money involved, but I know that he will never pay me back and that is a small price to pay for my health and sanity in this situation that is making me sick from stress. I am so lost and alone here. I leave as much as I can, but that seems like running away, and it is my house. Not sure why I even wrote this except for after reading some of the other replies thought maybe I was venting to others who unlike my friends who are totally supportive, would understand because they have lived it.

  • colleen

    Dr. Niell,
    My boyfriend of 7 years finally has decided to seek professional help. This psychologist works at a large hospital in alcohol recovery and has a great degree. He has advised my boyfriend that moderation management (which I know my boyfriend was pushing for) would work for him. He has had 12 years of blackouts, 2 DUI s, an assault record for fighting a bouncer, $5,000 spent that he doesn’t have, at a strip club he doesn’t remember walking into, and much, much more that is heartbreaking to watch. He’s 32 and a lawyer and only blacks out about once every month, but it ends terribly and then he cuts back a few weeks til it happens again. Is this psychologist legit in thinking this is a solution?

  • Suzie

    “Dr. Neill Neill
    Wednesday at 6:30 pm
    Hi Katherine,

    If I have given you the impression that I put the marriage ahead of health, safety, and life fulfillment, I apologize. Safety comes first, absolutely. If you are doing the work on yourself, and it appears you have been, then it may be time to ask yourself, “Can I accept this man as my partner as he is?” If the answer is, “no,” then perhaps it’s time to walk (or even run.)

    What I wrote arose from the fact that so many people start with blaming their partner’s drinking for their unhappiness and end the marriage without taking a look at themselves. The choice is to look inside of yourself now or to do it later in your next marriage. Ugh!

    My wife and I have each been in three long-term marriages. We are now in our 27th year with each other. No, it often can not be a “journey traveled by two” until it’s the right two.

    And one more thing: give yourself a big boost by replacing “coping” and “combating” with “transforming.”

    I hope this have been of some help.

    Neill”

    Dr. Neill,

    I’ve read a lot of your blogs and comments and have felt you had a “handle” on the functioning alcoholic since you were an alcoholic at some point, but this comment about “people start with blaming their partner’s drinking for their unhappiness”…REALLY?! You don’t think that a partner’s drinking brings unhappiness, distress and frustration into a marriage!!!! AH….ya…maybe those 3 long marriages you had were with a codependent that loved you enough to HOPE that your alcoholism would end, but it’s very hard to have a relationship with an alcoholic that is not emotionally available and invested. It’s a one sided marriage. YES, we all have to look at ourselves and make any changes we can. I guess, to see WHY we stay in a marriage that has a dysfunctional partner!! But to say WE didn’t find the “RIGHT” person?! So after 3 marriages and ruined lives with your alcoholism did you get sober and “find” the right person or did sobriety change your level of commitment to the marriage? Was #4 a “better” fit for you or were you just finally available and participating in the marriage?

    Yes, everyone go to Alanon and get the basics of how to regain your self esteem and detach from the impact the alcoholic has on your life (which is almost like living separate lives). Your alcoholic is still not engaged in your marriage and even if he gets sober, he has a lot of years of work on himself to be a husband that has time to participate in a marriage. If he goes the AA route, he’ll be busy with them instead of drinking, and that’s just a whole other problem, if he switches addiction to the attention in AA, or the attention of the lonely women that suddenly substitute the thrill of an affair with the high of their drugs. I’ve lived through 35 years with my husband drinking for all of them except the last 5. Sobriety is one thing, recovery is a changed man. There is a big difference and it’s not easy.

    My children all suffered immeasurably, having addictions they struggle with. Like you said in your article, “they model the behavior they saw.” My mistake was letting that happen, but he was very high functioning and hid it well!!! No big drunken scenes, he used alcohol and pot…VERY SAD…

  • Please do not e-mail me. My problem is a private one, but I would appreciate some help through a post. I was in an abusive marriage for twenty plus years. My father was an alcoholic and died at a young age with hepatorenal syndrome. My father’s sister and her boyfriend lived in our home when I was a child. They were both alcoholics. I have always been around alcoholics and it seems the only life I know. My first husband was an alcoholic. My second husband, who I became involved with through an adulterous affair, is an alcoholic. I have a drinking problem, but I have chosen to limit my drinking because of elevated liver enzymes and liver enlargement. I do not want to die from alcohol. I want to strengthen my current marriage. My husband’s family does not like me because of the way our relationship initiated, which I feel guilty about, but it has been quite a few years ago that we got together. I wish I could right things with my current husband’s family because they blame me for his divorce and his drinking, and it would also improve my marriage. Where do I start? I’m really not a bad person and I do believe in a higher power, but I feel I may not go to heaven because of my unfaithfulness.

  • I am also wondering how to develop a healthy relationship with my current husband. How does one live without alcohol at the center when that has always been the center?

  • destiny perez

    I have been married for 5 years and together for 9. We have broken up, gotten back together, seen other people… Finally, he got kicked out of where he was staying because of his drinking. He has sense come in drunk, argued with me and even gotten physical. My 2 kids where very scared. I also had my best friends child when it happened. And now he is back in my house because it hurts to see him in the streets hungry and in need of a bath. I started talking to someone I really liked, shortly before this all happened, and I’m afraid I may not make the right choice. Do I turn my back on my husband and keep letting him justify his abuse and if not, what steps do I take? It kills me to think my daughter will one day let a man treat her the way he treats me because I allowed his behavior. Or will she see it as mommy was a strong women who tried to keep her family together? Any suggestion? I feel like my life is wasted on helping him.

  • Amy

    I have known my husband for more than 15 years. We have been together for 9 and married for 7. We were very much in love when we married. I do still love him. He is not abusive toward us. He hides his drinking. Before we were married, I only thought he drank a few beers on the weekends. He would come see me in the evenings, after his work, and wouldn’t drink until he left for home. He may have drank before he came. It wasn’t until our first year of marriage that I saw how much. He was suddenly someone that I did not recognize.

    Now, He stays outside most evenings, after his 2 hour visit at a family members home, hiding his drinking. He goes immediately to a family members home after work, from 5 pm until about 7 pm everyday, to spread out his drinking so it doesn’t look so bad to any of us. But, the fact is, he drinks no less than 6 beers a night, but closer to 12. Our trash man came Friday and Saturday morning and there was an empty case of beer in the outside trash. I hope some of that was old and what he had hidden in his truck. He does not act drunk until late when the kids are asleep, he saves the pounding of the beers for then. He had taken our small savings, as well as my kids, and spent it all on alcohol. He is always very defensive, bitter towards me, and is impossible to have a productive conversation with. He denies having a problem and says its me that has the problem. I am moody and cold, according to him. And perhaps I am… after years of disappointment, lies about drinking and taking our bill money to buy it. He makes me feel as if I’m over reacting. But, perhaps it’s because he comes from a family of heavy drinkers.

    He adores our daughter as she does him. And has been a great step father to my older girls. Divorce would devastate them all. But, he is so unwilling to work with me and communicate with me, unless I turn a blind eye and pretend like his drinking is okay. I know our situation is not as bad as some others, but it’s constant betrayal of trust. All I have ever asked is to make home a priority after work. Check on his family first. Have more of a desire for his family than the alcohol, but he doesn’t even try anymore. He seems to have already checked out. I want to love him, I want him to love me. I have felt so alone and empty our entire marriage since his nasty secret showed its face. I feel tricked since I had no idea about his problem before we wed.

    I was raised by a drug addicted mother, my oldest children’s father was addicted to drugs and alcohol and it took me 6 years to escape that hell. I do not do drugs. I drink very rarely, I mean I go months without a drink, and 2 is my limit. So how do I end up living with addicts? I am only 33. Do I just accept this as long as the kids are oblivious? If he is unwilling to acknowledge the problem, can it be fixed? Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? I am in so much pain from the situation. I truly do not know what to do. We do not fight everyday, but we do some. We do not yell, or cause a big scene it is more like disagree to the point we must end the conversation because it is about to become a yelling match. We NEVER agree on anything. We do not understand each other in the least bit. It feels as if we are two strangers that maybe were more in lust than love. I’m so lost.

  • Jillian

    You wrote, “Can I accept this man as my partner as he is?” I cannot. I just started getting counseling for my “anger problem” and I found out that my anger has to do with my husband’s drinking and ignoring me for over 10 years. I did not know this was happening. I am a child of an alcoholic and bipolar mother.

    I have two teens. They are starting to know something is going on. They love their dad, he acts like a 12 year old. They are 15 and 17. I am angry and turning it on them. That is wrong. I don’t know how to get him out of the house. He says he is reading a book on how to quit on his own–which I find out– he will be a dry drunk. He has been drinking one beer a night and still ignoring me, of course. He says he has been drinking one beer, so that means he does not have a drinking problem.

    My counselor says he has not hit rock bottom yet. When will this happen? So I should sit quietly and wait, to see if he will hit rock bottom and then get him into a program? She tells me we have a 50% chance of our marriage making it. I have been in shock all week.

    I am 52–I don’t want to live like this for one more day. I just went to Al Anon this week and strongly recommend it. I am scared to death of how I will survive financially, but I am willing to try.
    I am just like the person above, I am so alone, we don’t fight, we do not yell, it is more like we disagree to the point we must end the conversation. We don’t agree on anything anymore either.

    We sold out big house and moved 100 miles to another state 6 months ago. I told him I won’t buy a house with him. He was shocked. I don’t even really know anyone in this area. I don’t want to move back to the old area. Where do I go??
    I am a strong, strong Christian, but I can’t hear my God. I am so mixed up.

    I am ready to give up on my 22 year marriage, but should I wait a bit longer? And I don’t know if I should prepare a bit longer financially and myself for what is to come.
    How do I prepare my children?

  • Colleen

    I’ve been married to my alcoholic husband almost 15 years now. For about 3 years, he was sober from alcohol, but turned to heavy marijuana use. During our marriage, he has cheated, been irresponsible with finances, sold drugs, grown marijuana, videoed naked girls on his cell phone, forgotten my birthday, watched a lot of porn, used my cell phone to text other women, 3 DUI’s, and accidentally burnt a sofa and rug, while drunk, as well as start a fire in the kitchen causing $1500 in damages. I cannot stand breathing the same air as him any longer. I have been alone in this marriage for so long. I hate that he has robbed me of years that I will never get back. I hate how I have allowed his behavior to ruin my life. I have pleaded with him repeatedly that I need him, intimacy, trust, togetherness… not his alcoholism. All that he does when not working is drink. This was the last weekend of being left to watch him do this to us. I am seeing an attorney this week and finally getting on with my life. I told him 30 days ago that I could not and WOULD NOT spend my life like this. I told him that I love him more than anything and that I need him in my life, but that his drinking needed to stop. Well, it had no effect upon him, but his lack of action had a great effect on me. I do love him, and it hurts more than words that he chooses a bottle over me. But, I realize all too late that I cannot change that. I have mourned for the end of the man I fell in love with. I have mourned for the end of us. I have mourned for the loss of hope in being in a happy marriage together. I do not know what the future holds in store for me, but I do know that things can only get better for me. I am leaving heartache, loneliness, and disappointment for self-preservation and deserved peace.

  • Geoffrey

    I have been married for 19 years to my wife and for most of that time, she has been what seems to be called a ‘functioning alcoholic’ and now I need to finish it without destroying what is left. I have tried everything I can think of to bring her back from this state, and after several years I gave up. I no longer love her, but care for her well being and three years ago I effectively made my feelings clear to her. With a 14 year old daughter, I did not want to break up the family unit and we have remained together with no intimacy. We had not had sex for some years before this anyway (at my choice).

    Having been married for many years, I was scared about making the break, as I had never done much dating, even as a younger man and had no idea how I would cope. Last year I took a job that meant I was away from home abroad for weeks on end. My intention was to prepare myself for the inevitable separation and divorce and test out my ability to make new friends and perhaps meet women. This in itself was successful and my confidence is greatly increased. However, what it has really done is delay my ability to take action on my marriage as I could not really finish it when I am not there or there for only a short period. Also, my failure 3 years ago to end it has perpetuated a situation that is harder to break.

    My wife is significantly older than me (I am 43) and her being an alcoholic, I feel that if I break this up now, she will fall deeper into the despair she must be in and with her age, she is not likely to be able to start anything new in her life.

    My daughter is quite aware of her state (though not our non-separation) and I have had to talk with her about the drinking a few times in the last year. She is now spending less time with her Mum and I think the bond is breaking up a bit, as my daughter tries to protect herself.

    I did not ‘cheat’ on my wife in all this time, but having gone without sex (at my own choice) and with no intimacy at all for well over 6 years, I eventually did get together with another girl briefly.
    So what now? I need to ‘save’ my daughter and make sure she has an environment to call home. As I said I don’t hate my wife, and I don’t want to hurt her, but I’m dying inside and I have seen a better life for myself and want to find someone I can spend it with. I really think breaking up will kill my wife and that is a worry. She must know that this is likely to happen as we have been in a limbo state for a long time now. The job I am working on finishes in a few months so I have to work out what to do soon.

  • Robin

    What should a person do when you have two small kids and a functioning alcoholic? I’m so unhappy, but don’t want to take the kids away from their father. He is not (really) abusive, but there are things he does that I find unacceptable, least of which is continually drinking around the children. We have been married 8 years and at least 3 has been me trying to convince him to stop drinking. When is it time to finally throw in the towel and separate the children from their dad?

  • Maxi

    I’ve been married for just over 1 year to my high school sweet heart, we’ve been together on and off for 7 years prior. We have a son together that will soon be turning 3. My question is, would my husband be considered a ‘functioning alcoholic’? We live 5 hours away from our hometown because of his job, which is a federal job, and is his number 1 priority, as far as I can tell. When we are at home (just my husband, son and I) things are so much better, although they are not perfect. We were on and off before marriage because he always put himself first and I never felt valued or appreciated.

    Before we got back together I was sober and devoted to my faith and I met and started dating a guy from my church, when my husband saw how happy I was and how our son was getting along with him, he wanted us back. He promised me he would change and put God first. I had prayed for this for so long. God knows all I wanted was my family together, so I took the chance and took him back. He was great for the first few months of marriage and we were happy. Once I started to trust him again and believe in our marriage he jut suddenly changed. Just selfish, everything I do for him is never good enough and everything he promised me he has gone back on. His temper has gotten much worse, to the point where he’s said things like he wants to hit me, but then he says he didn’t mean it, it was a joke! Now every chance we get to come home he will take, which I dread because every time we do come visit it’s like I don’t exist or matter, all that matters is drinking, I do admit that I drink with him because it seems everybody around us does it, but not to my husbands extent. We will use at least $300 on alcohol each visit! Mind you our visits are only 3 days long! I’ve threatened to file for divorce and am already taking steps to start the process because when I asked him if he was willing to completely cut off alcohol in order to make this marriage work he said he wasn’t going to do that and it was unfair of me to ask. He says I am selfish to give him ultimatums and I’m just looking for an excuse to leave him. That night I tried as best I could to make him understand that he was choosing alcohol over his family, but he still left me crying and drank that night at his parents home.. He has not been over and has been drinking since, He leaves back to work tomorrow and I don’t think he will even try to fix things before he leaves.

    He has left me emotionally exhausted, I feel as if I am am the only one working to keep this marriage together. I love my husband very much, he still makes me laugh, cheers me up, apologizes when he’s wrong (never to alcohol), plays w our son and shows him love, never misses work or calls in, but when he can drink and we are home visiting, he is a whole different person. I feel like a coward, like I am abandoning him and maybe giving up on our marriage too soon. I also feel like I have failed my son. After a year of living w my husband and him bonding with him, he is already crying for daddy every night, it breaks my heart more than anything!
    Does my husband have a problem? Should I leave him before my son gets more attached and the damage will be worse in the future?

  • donna

    My husband and I have been married 27 years. He is a dedicated family man, church goer and responsible adult. He loves me and our children and goes to work every day. Although he drank a lot as a teenager, I did not think much of it as all teenagers drank and then grew out of it. Over the years we have drank on special occasions like anniversaries etc., but have hardly ever even kept alcohol in our house, due to having children. About 10 years ago we started failing in our business and ended up having to file bankruptcy. I noticed during this time that my husband started drinking a good bit at night. finally after several months, I confronted him and he agreed and stopped drinking. We went back to the occasional drinks when out of town or celebrating. About 2 years ago financial stress got harder and we were fighting foreclosure of our home. He started to drink again when he would get home, trying to unwind from the days stress. Now over the last 6 months I am finding wine bottles tucked away in his drawers, sometimes empty and sometimes full. His behavior is obnoxious and he does all this drinking alone and in private. Our love life is almost non existent and because of his obnoxious behavior I avoid him when I am at home and he has been drinking. He never crosses the line if he is out with me. Last night I confronted him and he admitted (what I already knew). He claims that he drinks to ease pain (medical problems) and to unwind and when he is anxious and angry and stressed. He says he needs a different outlet (he seems to think if we get a hobby it will re direct his focus on something else) because he only does this at night after work. I work a lot of nights late and when I get home he is already feeling the buzz. Does this type of behavior mean his is an alcoholic? How do I trust him now that I know when he is alone is when he drinks. He seems fine with saying he will stop. I’m just not sure what to do at this point.

  • I’m still learning from you, as I’m improving myself. I certainly love reading everything that is posted on your website. Keep the posts coming.
    I like it!

  • Jenell

    So my husband decided to tell me Friday that after 3 years he’s not In love with me and wants me to leave. He goes to his nightly meetings regularly and I honestly believe that AA has got it in his head that he needs to be alone the first few years of his recovery. Has anyone else ever heard of this?? There is no explanation from him just that it was nothing I did that it’s his issue…. I just cannot wrap my head around this…

  • laura

    My husband (of less than one year) and I (yes… I know, right, what was I thinking? ha)have been working with a counselor to address his drinking and our relationship. We have known each other for 15 years, and dated for 5. About a month and a half ago, after about two years of my husband going to counseling (missing appointments), we went to an emergency appointment together after a terribly bad incident. Within the span of one week, at the counselor’s suggestion, and because he was especially sorry about said incident, I went to his first AA meeting with him, he went to 2 more on his own, and I went to one Al-Anon meeting. He also started taking Vivitrol, the naltrexone injection that is supposed to reduce the euphoric feeling of alcohol, as well as reduce cravings. However, since that week, he has not returned to a meeting. He refers to the members of AA as “those people,” and he has been trying to negate the effects of his medication by consuming MORE drinks in order to feel intoxicated and to try to get the buzz that is no longer achieved instantly. In his mind he’s taking/taken the steps to deal with THE PROBLEM (to him, a one-time event problem – because he always somehow forgets that there was a last event, and one before that, etc.) and that he IS “managing it,” (feeling less, yet consuming more). Rational? No, not at all. He is totally in denial of his alcoholism.

    So many incidents arising from his drunken debacles have hurt me. There is embarrassment, disappointment, anxiety, legal issues, loneliness and did I mention embarrassment, disappointment, anxiety and frustration?

    His parents are aware of our attempt to work on this issue together and support me. They can actually be a little too hard on him, especially considering his father has also graduated to functioning alcoholic in his retirement. He has not encountered the ramifications my husband has. He’s 100 lbs heavier, doesn’t drink liquor, doesn’t plan to have children in the coming years, doesn’t hang out with a crowd of 30-somethings and drive-home from bars, etc. Of course, he doesn’t have a problem, either ;-)He just always has a beer in his hand and never seems drunk.

    They are the only members of our family that know we are working on this, because my husband doesn’t want to be labeled. He also doesn’t want to try to get sober – if he decides to – and fail before everyone, or to clue anyone into the fact that we are having trouble. I also don’t want the world to know. People already know he drinks too much if they’ve ever seen him in a bar!!! They don’t need to know our every personal detail.

    I did ask his parents if I could stay with them this week, as the 4th of July weekend was pretty abysmal. I don’t know if that is the right thing to do. I don’t know where else to go to maintain our privacy as a couple. I don’t even know if leaving the house is the right thing to do, but he wouldn’t go when I asked him, and I can’t be there watching him actively work against “recovery”/ not respecting me in our home. I will continue to see the counselor, go to meetings, talk, etc. when he wants, but for awhile I need to get out of there. I feel like I’m enabling him if I just hang around and standby and giving the impression, “Yeah this is cool and normal, I’m totally down with this going on in my life.” Is that wrong? I’d obviously rather not go to his parents’, either, but financially it’s the only option.

  • Avery

    I have read almost every post. I can’t believe there are people in the same situation as I. I am married to a functioning alcoholic. He has drank beer for as long as I have known him, which is 16 years. We have been married for 14 years. I am 33, have three children with him and have earned three degrees, for the sole purpose to provide for my children. He does nothing to make our lives better. I make three times as much money as he does and still work odd and end jobs to make ends meet. I also take 99% responsibility for our children, mostly because he can’t drive or do anything after 5 pm, because this is the time he starts drinking. Like others have said, he is a wonderful man when sober, unfortunately that is during the day when we are not around. The children adore their daddy and often take his side even though it is ridiculous! I think they do this because they crave his attention. He ignores them most of the time because he is drinking. EVERY afternoon begins by him standing on the back porch drinking until he stumbled into the house to take a shower and pass out. There is even a smell that comes from his skin. I am guessing that is the alcohol. Two years ago the drinking was extremely bad and as I was preparing to leave, he was in an alcohol related accident on an ATV which caused him to have a TBI and left him in the hospital for over a month. I took leave at work and cared for him. This caused my kids lots of stress and turmoil. I said if he ever drank again I was gone. The few months that he did not drink were the best of my life. He started drinking again and I am still here. We have even started plans to build a house. Of course, I have to pay for it, since he can barely even buy groceries. He works for his daddy on the family farm and says he has land which is more than money. He acts inappropriate most of the time, “like a 12 year old,” I tell him. He is not involved in our children’s lives. I love him, but know I would be fine on my own. My biggest fear is him having the children without me there. I also don’t want to hurt my children. They will think it is my fault and of course he will tell them it is my fault. He is just immature and stupid like that. I would do anything for my children, even if it means staying with him. Dr.Neil what do you think?

  • Avery

    Also, he has hurt me so much that I am not sure that if he did quit drinking, if I would want to stay. His TBI has made him “stupid” to say the least. Maybe a combination of the two. I have strayed from all of my family and friends through the years because he doesn’t like any of them. He can find something wrong with everybody even, if it’s saying that they are fat. He can find a way to put down anyone that I love. Anytime I try to confront him about anything, he says I, ” am *****ing” and even has my 13 year old believing that I “am b**** all the time.” In reality anyone will tell you I am the sweetest, most patient person they know. Is there hope? I don’t even know that I care. :(

  • Leslee Martin

    I’m the wife. I am the alcoholic. I blacked out on the first date with my soon to be husband and 90% of our relationship I was drunk, blacked out, recovering from the last binge, obsessing on when and how I would drink next, or obsessing on how to stop. I drank and our marriage survived. I went to rehab twice and have now been sober for two and a half years. It seemed our marriage could survive me being an alcoholic. My husband is addicted to being the victim and the hero. Getting sober saved my life but ruined our marriage. Alcoholism is the primary probable, as nothing else can be addressed until the drinking stops, but alcohol was also one solution to many other problems. With alcohol out of the picture the other problems are exposed.

    I’m going through a divorce right now. My husband doesn’t want it. I filed. I wonder how many relationships “function” albeit dysfunctional while the alcoholic is in active addiction yet cease to “function” once the alcoholic enters recovery. Or in other words what are the statistics on how many alcoholic marriages survive the spouse getting sober? What they don’t tell the family when they drop the alcoholic off at rehab pleading, “help her stop drinking!” Is, “you may have saved your wife’s life by helping her get sober, and in doing so you may lose your marriage.” :( I just don’t know how to be in this relationship sober and without the alcohol I realize how dysfunctional and toxic this relationship is. Alcohol was the problem. It was also a solution. I just wish people knew getting sober is only half the battle, it’s the first step. Unless the other person is willing to work equally as hard on his or herself as the alcoholic did to get sober the relationship is still likely to fail.

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