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The Functioning Alcoholic Is Your Husband

Dr. Neill Neill

You both enjoyed a drink when you were first married. But unlike your drinking, his has increased over time. In fact it has become an integral part of everyday living for him.

codependency and worry.jpgIt has become a familiar part of your life too, because you worry about what is happening to him and to your marriage. For present purposes I will limit my comments to home life.

Perhaps he is just a friendly alcoholic. He pours a drink as soon as he gets home from work and he keeps one going all evening. He watches television with you and the children and is easy to get along with, provided he always has a drink. He insists there is nothing wrong with this drinking and that he is functioning quite well. After all, he reasons, he does his job and he brings home the money.

However, he never goes to the children’s games, because he doesn’t plan ahead. By the time he is asked, he’s already drinking and can’t go. "Next time…"

If you enjoy sex in the evening, you are out of luck, because by bedtime he’s blotto. And sex is not the only area where you are feeling neglect. It’s hard to have a discussion about anything significant after he has had a couple of drinks. You spend a lot of time effectively alone. You didn’t bargain for loneliness in your marriage.

You are in deeper trouble if your husband tends to become confrontational when drinking. It is a common sign of advancing alcoholism. He might snap at the kids. Perhaps he yells at you. Certainly he blames you a lot. You worry that his emotional and mental abuse might escalate into violence against you and the children.

Sometimes he has corralled you into calling his employer to say he is sick, when you know he just has a hangover. He aggressively demands absolute secrecy. You and the kids are forbidden to talk with your friends about any of the unpleasantness at home.

He may insist on another definition of "functioning" to protect his ego, but in my books, if what I have said fits, the signs point to your husband’s being a minimally functioning alcoholic.

What has happened to you as his alcohol addiction has progressed? You have slid into codependency with your husband. You are enmeshed. Everything that each of you does affects the other. While he has become addicted to alcohol, you have become addicted to his care. Therefore, overcoming codependency is overcoming addiction. Your addictions support each other.

If his behavior has not yet deteriorated to the level of physical violence, you may still have time to recover from your addiction without leaving the relationship. But let "safety first" be your motto.

I’ve written elsewhere about useful steps to take to recover from codependency. The gist of my recommendations is that you independently do as much as you can to reestablish your identity, separate from his. This may mean having your own friends, going to church on your own, getting in shape or getting a job. It will certainly mean never buying or hiding his booze, never making excuses for him, and refusing to keep family secrets.

He will object vehemently, of course. But you have no more obligation to your husband to maintain your addiction than he has to you to maintain his addiction. In fact you will both be much better off individually and as a couple if you both recover from your addictions.

Get help from wherever you can whenever you need it and do not seek his permission in the process. The very act of seeking help independently is part of your recovery.

Click the tab "Alcoholism Test" at the top of this page to go to the test, "Is Your Husband a Functioning Alcoholic?". It will give you more clarity about whether or not your husband is an alcoholic.

Take care.

Psychologist Dr. Neill Neill maintains an active psychology and life-coaching practice on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.   He focuses on self growth, healthy relationships and life enhancement after addictions. He is the author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide. Get on his list for notification that he has posted a new article and receive his free report, "Addiction and Codependency Simplified."

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237 comments to The Functioning Alcoholic Is Your Husband

  • Sharon

    My husband drinks everynight 4 to 8 beers. We do not have a marriage, since I do not want anything to do with him. He claims it is because I am a bitter and miserable person and that I have done this to myself and that many of his friends have assured him he is a good, pleasant person and very easy to get along with. We have a 3 year old son together whom he interacts with well and claims I do not spend any time or attention on (even though he leaves our son with me to go do his heavy drinking at least 3 times a week)the rest of the time he trys to monopolize our sons time by keeping him right next to his side. He does this while drinking and I usually go to my room and watch TV cause I do not want to sit with a guy who just keeps drinking all night. Is my husband teaching my son how to be an alcholic. I do not feel my son is in any danger, but I have had to endure verbal abuse from my husband.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Hello Sharon,

    You deserve a life, and so does your son. Take action by taking the Alcoholism Test. Then read some of the things other women have said. Read the book, starting with Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 24.

    You have to take action. You can’t “drift” into a better life. The models your son is seeing is an alcoholic father, a mother who takes abuse, but doesn’t do anything about it, and a marriage with poorly-handled conflict. I doubt that’s what you want for him.

  • Holly

    I made the biggest mistake of my life by marrying a man that I never should have a few years ago. I knew him as a young boy twenty some odd years ago but after reuniting, his family failed to tell me that Dan had become a terrible alcoholic thru the years and that he had been in and out of different rehabs unsuccessfully, as well as been in trouble with the law, including spending time in jail. He also had one of the worst tempers I had ever witnessed or known. This unbelievable temper had also got him in trouble with 2 ex wives, as he was physically violent and controlling with both. He was charged with domestic violence with his second wife.

    Dans three children also had very little to do with him due to his unpredictable behavior. I never knew any of this until after I had already married him, there were no signs or warnings but I would soon start having my own terrible experiences right after we were married. Dan would notoriously start an argument as an excuse to leave so he could go drink, usually a day or two later he was sorry and wanted to come home, this became a vicious pattern over and over.

    Last Christmas I had had enough, he come home drunk and called the police and made a false report on me, in the midst of the police coming, Dan had sandwiched me in between our front door and screen door and was pushing the heavy door on my entire body that was halfway in and halfway out. By the time the police arrived, they saw the marks on my arm and seen that Dan was intoxicated, Dan was arrested immediately.

    His father made a couple of calls to me asking if I would call the prosecutor and tell them that it was an accident, he wanted me to lie to get his son out of trouble! It was at that time that I broke all ties with his parents, I was starting to see that they were part of the problem.

    Several months later I decided to separate from Dan, I wanted him to get real help or else it was over. We were separated for 8 months, during this time he had snuck into his 401k and took out $20,000 to buy a corvette, his father had him put the corvette in his dads name so the money couldnt be traced so that the car couldnt be taken from him. That money was supposed to be ours for when we were old, so that we could live on it. Since then, I have heard three different stories about the 401k, to which none of them I believe. He also has a terrible time with telling the truth and being honest.

    I have found out that Dan has all the characteristics of an alcoholic- although he doesnt feel he has a problem, nor does he think that hes an alcoholic. During our separation, he was arrested again, drunk driving, this time he ended up going to jail. He was in there for approximately 4 months. He had violated his probation that he was given from the domestic violence charge, because of this, his parents thought that their son was going to jail because of me.

    My problem is this, I want out, I cant stand him, he has caused so much pain and turmoil for everyone and still has not changed but I have no job I have tons of applications in everywhere but ith the economy, I am struggling to find something and I need my bills paid. I dont know where to turn or what to do, all I know is that I want out!!

  • jenn

    I have been with Dave for 12 years we have four children. He drinks a 12 pack every day more on weekends and holidays. He gets out of work befor I do. I pick up our twin toddler sons from the sitters, and as soon as I walk in the door he goes straight to the basement leaving me to care for our children. The only time he comes up is to use the bathroom and grab something to eat, and right back down he goes. If I raise my voice or yell at our children he will begin running me down as a parent. If I don’t clean up the house he will verbaly abuse me in front of our children. I have to be the one to open the bills and plan when to pay them and I cannot count on a set amount from him because he gives me what he wants rather than what we need. I don’t know how to get out of this and how I could afford 4 children when I do. Can you help me?

  • Little Lou

    I have read all of the stories that are posted here and I can completely relate.

    I have been married to an alcoholic man for 20 yrs. since I was just 20 years old! It all started out fun, we’d have parties but he would always get drunk and pass out and everyone thought it was funny. Cookouts I couldn’t rely on him to do the cooking because he was drinking. After family get- togethers at my home he would be passed out and I’d be left to clean and put everything back in order alone. This was true for Christmas Eves. When my son was very little and still believed in Santa I would be up all alone at night putting out the gifts and filling the stockings because my husband would be wasted from Christmas Eve festivities. Every single year – honestly!

    As the years progressed, our invitations from friends and neighbors were less and less. One new neighbor that didn’t know us very well did invite us to a cook out 2 summers ago. They aren’t heavy drinkers (nor am I, I feel I should mention), but my husband arrived drunk and ending up pissing his pants before staggering up their driveway to go home! I could go on and on with the stories of humiliation. All I can say is I am living the nightmare.

    He lost his job last year due to drinking and during his unemployment had a drunk driving accident. I’m working so much to support my son. My teenaged son and I are very close thank God. I don’t get to spend as much time with him as I used to. I’m in severe financial hardship not just from the loss of my husband’s job but also because of gambling that he was addicted to. Did I mention he was driving away from the track when his drunk driving accident occured?

    My close friends all think I’m crazy that I’m still with him, but I don’t have a lot of options right now. I don’t make that much money and my credit is shot. I want my son’s life to be happy again. I have no where to go and so to remain in my house

    I deal with his nagging for me to purchase alcohol for him and then when he does get drunk yelling at me for various problems he says are my fault. My life is utter hell right now because of an alcoholic. I could keep writing.

    All I can say is if you suspect your partner is an alcoholic they probably are – and get yourself out before you are in too deep. Don’t be a stupid fool like me and think it will get better because you’ll be in for the worst ride of your life.

  • BrendaLee

    Interesting article although I am bothered by two things:

    1) Dr. Neill writes “What has happened to you as his alcohol addiction has progressed? You have slid into codependency with your husband.” I do not believe that every woman goes down the pathetic hill of codependency. Many probably do but certainly not all.

    2) as well, Dr. Neill writes “If his behavior has not yet deteriorated to the level of physical violence, you may still have time to recover from your addiction without leaving the relationship.” — Fortunately this is not the case. Not every alcoholic gets violent, my husband cleans the kitchen. But for those who feel like they’re in danger, get out, Dr. Neill is right, safety first.

    My heart goes out to the women here and my advice is get out if you can. Unfortunately, I have physical problems that prevent me from working and am unable to leave now. Sadly, the way my husband drinks, I’ll probably be a widow before a divorcee.

    My question to Dr. Neill is this: I tell people about his drinking, I don’t make excuses for him, I don’t lie for him, I tell him he has to take responsibility for his actions and do not bail him out or help him. I’ve tried to talk to him about his drinking and alcoholism but he is in heavy denial. I’ve offered to go to counseling with him or where ever he wants to go to get help, but that suggestion is met with silence. He’s already had cancer once (a cancer that is directly related to heavy drinking and smoking) and as soon as he finished his treatments, he went right back to drinking and smoking. He doesn’t exercise or eat healthily. It’s horrible watching him kill himself. Is there ANYTHING I can do to help him?

    Thank you

  • Mildred

    My husband is very charming to most people. According to him, I’m the only one who has any issue about his drinking. He’s like the emperor with no clothes. Everyone knows he overdoes it, but feels it isn’t “polite” to talk to him about it, or “doesn’t want to get into his business.”

    He went to a local play rehearsal at a winery, and got drunk because it (the alcohol) was “there.” Before that his sister was in town and he was “visiting” with her for four days, each evening passed out on the floor or couch of his mother’s and brother’s houses. He always does things that he feels absolves him from being a drunk. During the visits with his sister, he was usually the one cooking or barbequeing. In his mind, he’s the good guy, so he has “earned” his drinks (like they’re a prize or something). Last night he drank with his brother. It’s always something.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Brendalee,

    I didn’t mean to imply that all spouses of alcoholics slip into codependency; you certainly haven’t. And probably most alcoholics don’t become physically violent. What we do know is that the best predictor of phyical violence is verbal violence (verbal abuse), and the most dangerous time is the few month starting with the first statement of intention to leave.

    There is really not much you can do.  If he ever does what it takes to change, he will do it from within himself, not because of you.

    I know what it is like to watch a loved one kill themselves by drinking or drugging. In 2008 I lost a 40-year-old son from heart failure due to drug abuse. Then in December my 51-year-old daughter died from liver complications after years of drinking.

    The question to ask youself is whether you would be better off (financially, emotionally, spiritually) if you were alone now (with his support, of course), or whether you would be better off if you were alone after watching him slowly commit suicide.

    My heart goes out to you Brendalee.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Mildred,

    If he is ‘absolving himself,’ he is making his drinking about other people, not himself; not a good indication of insight.

  • BrendaLee

    Dr. Neill,

    Thank you very much for your kind response. My heart goes out to you for the loss of your son and daughter — I am very sorry for your pain and heartache.

    Thank you for clarifying what you wrote about abuse and codependency. I guess I’m lucky in that my husband is not abusive at all, not verbally or mentally. Although, I guess one can say that by choosing to drink instead of living a good life with me is in its own way abusive to both of us.

    I will think about what you said, but at this point I do think I’m better staying put. We don’t have any children, if we did, I would not want to stay. So I guess for now I’ll just maintain the hope that he finds it in himself to make some changes for the better before it’s too late.

    Thank you again for taking the time to respond to my post.
    Take care,
    BL

  • Janet

    I believe I am married to a functioning alcoholic. My husband has been a good provider and a good father to our two children. He has now retired and has lots of free time on his hands. Some time ago, I told him I would no longer be buying his alcohol. He now spends most of his free time at a relative’s home where he is free to drink as much of whatever he would like. Although it is a short drive home, I do worry about him driving in this state. I would have to say vacations are the worst. We usually take vacations with groups of family and friends, so he has opportunities to get away from me. He especially enjoys cruises, where he is free to drink the afternoon and evening away. He has tried to moderate his drinking in the past, and has been quite successful at times. He has had some health scares concerning his blood pressure, but I’m not sure he realizes that excessive drinking has probably caused him to have high blood pressure in the first place. My personality has definitely changed over the past few years, as I have tried to detach myself from the situation. I used to nag him about it, but now I try to remain quiet. I am at the point now of really resenting him, and have a lot of anger built up inside of me. I am a master of the “silent treatment”. I am worried about what will happen to us when our youngest child leaves home next year to be married, as we have really drifted apart. I have always felt like divorce is out of the question for me. I still love him, however I do not love the person he becomes when he is drinking.

  • ANNA

    this is where i am right now..deciding if i should end our relationship of 7 years…my husband hasn’t been home for 2 days since I read him the article “That fuctioning alcoholic is your husband”…I didn’t even finished it before he snapped and stormed out…over the years..i’ve tried different ways…we’ve fought over it…every time after a big fight..he decided to quit…but the longest one lasted for 6 days…you see..the problem is that he is a foreigner in this country ( we are in China) and he doesn’t speak the local language…so it’s difficult for him to have friends…because he only chose ppl who drink to be his friends..that means when he stops drinking, he has no friends or other family except for me…I can see that he is really trying…trying to make this relationship work and I believe that he loves me very much…he came to this country for me,you know..and when he is sober, he is such a nice guy…but when alcohol gets into him, he changes into a different person…..so…over the years..i guess i’ve changed too…when we first got married, i told him everything..but then i found out he pretty much doesn’t remember anything i told him because he was drunk,so gradually, i stopped talking to him..sometimes i don’t even want to listen to him talking while he is drunk…you know…it’s hard to take any of his drunk words seriously…since he likes his quiet time with his drinking buddies, he refuses to do any part-time job…so it was at the begining of this year when i decided that i should be financially independant…i took up several jobs and i doubled our income and thought more money would make our life easier…but at the same time, i started to spend a little more as well..thinking why can’t i spoil myself and buy sth i want when he is burning all the money on booz…so the situation now is that …i work all the time and we still don’t have much saving…the last fight we had..he said ‘ he didn’t have a wife to talk to for ages..coz i never listen to him..and he blamed me for not being able to save any money and he even accused me of spending money on another’ man’…….so here i am…chewing over this question…what should i do? should i give up on him and on this relationship? What to do with our 3 year old daughter? she doesn’t look like chinese at all…so the first question she gets from every stranger is ‘where is your father from?”…i can’t imagine what damage our seperation would do to her…But it seems impossible for my husband to quit drinking in this country..without any professional help and support of any friends…PLEASE HELP!

  • ANNA

    let me rephrase it…sorry..im not a native speaker..:) btw..he did successfully change whisky drinking to beer…and he gets seriously drunk less often..and he doesn’t start to drink until lunch time..though he has to have about 10 cans everyday…

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Anna,

    You are in a tough situation. As to your daughter, I repeat what i sad to Annie: Another article I wrote might be of some help regarding the question of your daughter. http://www.neillneill.com/154/unhappy-marriage-for-your-children/

    You and your husband might both benefit from reading my book. You can order it from Amazon or right here.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Janet,

    Been there. Unhappy and resentful, but divorce unthinkable. I had to realize I was not obligated to be unhappy. I didn’t like what I was becoming.

    Divorcing, in spite of my beliefs about marriage, was a very important and positive life decision.

    There is more to life than silent suffering.

  • Dawn

    I think I’ve been in denial about my husband’s drinking because he usually just drinks beer. However, he drinks at least 4 – 8 a day after work and if hard alcohol is available he goes for that first and he will drink it straight. On his days off he starts drinking in the morning and has an open beer going for most of the day. He got a DUI just before our daughter’s first Christmas and because that was a miserable experience for our family and he backed off significantly for about a year after that.

    Our daughter is now 11 and his drinking is as bad as ever. He has let himself go, he doesn’t shave or shower as often as he should, he doesn’t participate in any sports or activities anymore, he doesn’t sleep well so he is always tired and he has become very unreliable in everyday committments for the family and basically lazy.

    He is a kind and gentle person and his drinking just makes him "goofy" but I can’t rely on him as a partner because all of our time together is altered by his "buzz" and "goofy" behavior. It’s so embarrassing socially that I just try not to have him with me when I go places. I don’t drink at all because alcolism runs in my family.

    I just don’t know what to do. I love him but I’m not going to be a nag. I don’t know if he is having a negative influence on our daughter because he isn’t violent..just grumpy. I don’t think our marriage will last though if he doesn’t step up.

  • Claire

    I don’t know who my husband is anymore. We have been together 4 years and I never see him anymore. Tonight he says to me he just has to go to the bar because he is just feeling ansy and doesn’t know why. He goes 3 times a week a least. Everyday after work but 3 or 4 times a week he goes back.

    He comes home around 3 and he wakes me up by screaming at me about just random things. I still have bruises from last week.

    I don’t know what to do. He went a whole 36 hours without even seeing our kids.

    It just keeps getting worse. I don’t have a job. I don’t have family. I don’t know what to do anymore.

    Claire

  • Ann

    Thanks Little Lou, I hear you. I have just made my alcoholic (former) partner leave my home. We have known each other 18 months. It was a worldwind romance and he formally moved in with me in June. I knew by then he had a drink problem. I had already felt confused and cried too many tears over ruined plans etc. He assured me that he recogonised he had a problem and was addressing it. He went into addictions counselling, seemed to sort himself out and moved in. I did caution him that I would not live with him if the secret drinking and lying continued and that if it did, he would have to move out. Needless to say, both the drinking and the lying continued. He did go to addictions counselling, but he lied to the counsellor (what was the point in going? I would never have known if he hadn’t! What kind of crazy logic is that of an alcoholic?). Anyway, he left this morning. My house is peaceful. I’m relieved to be free of the drama. Although there is grief for the loss of what I thought we had and the dreams we shared. I know I must stay strong and not allow myself to weaken by thinking that it can be good and the dreams can be fulfilled.

    Please try to get some counselling for yourself. Some space for you to explore your needs and find some strength.

  • Joan

    Hello; I have been married for 34 years, and my husband is an alcoholic. We both drink, and have drank the entire marriage, but his drinking is out of control. He lost his job a year and a half ago at the age of 59, right before he was supposed to retire. He got most of his esteem from his job as a GM at a TV station. His alcoholism was under control when he was working, mainly because he worked from 5:30a to 6:30p or later. Now he starts drinking beer in the morning, and goes all day. FIrst beer, then vodka, then wine. Right after he was fired, I caught him drinking out of the vodka bottle at 9:30am. I was shocked, and told him, “I hope you know how serious this is”. He said he was going to try and slow down the drinking, and even told his doctor. But it has just spun out of control. He has always had a love of alcohol. It’s more important than anything to him. He’s made a good living, we’ve brought up 2 kids (our daughter is alcoholic, possibly our son as well). We had a great family life (I thought), but the problem was always there. It is to the point now that I can’t stand the sight of him, and we haven’t had sex for a year. We’re supposed to go on vacation next month, and I don’t want to go. He’ll be drunk 24/7. I struggle with what to do, since I do enjoy a glass of wine myself, but with this economy, I”m not sure I can afford to move out. I have no job, and I turn 60 this month. It’s a hell of a situation to be in. I’m trying to maintain my sanity, and I don’t think I’m codependent, because I don’t support/condone any of this. I’ve had to detach a long time ago. He has been verbally abusive in the past, and I did reach that conclusion 20 years ago. With all this time on his hands, he drinks constantly. HE’s also depressed, but won’t do anything about it. He has no hobbies to keep him busy. He’s in a state of inertia, and lays around the house watching TV or reading all day. I used to have the house to myself, and now he’s in my face constantly. I can’t seem to make a decision here, but if I had a job, it would be much easier.

  • laura

    I keep finding myself looking for answers but having a tough time finding them. My husband (39) and I(44) have been married 10 years and have 2 young children (plus 1 tenager from my prev marriage). My husband’s mom died from alcoholism when he was 11 and his life with his dad, brothers, and new step family was tough on him. None the less, he put himself through college and has a good job as an engineer.

    Our life is ok, but busy and stressful. When he doesn’t drink, we get along so much better and the household is calmer. Because of his personality, my husband has taken the role of taking care of everything for us, his extended family, and others. He feels the burden of responsibility daily.

    Plus my son’s ADHD, my ADHD and ‘Pollyanna’ view on life and people contribute to his frustrations. He is a realist and a pessimist whereas I am an optimist and that drives him crazy. Those are the reasons he gives for drinking. He is a highly functioning alcoholic (but keeps it secretive) and when I confront him about his drinking, he has a bunch of reasons as to why he does it and why he can’t stop. He is very smart, an excellent debater and minored in psycology so, these discussions we have usually don’t turn out favorable.

    He thinks when he drinks, it allows him to be honest with his feelings. The truth is, he is usually mean and has little patience for anything that or anyone that has a different view of things or does something that ‘he’ thinks was stupid. Kind of a ‘how could you do that?’…. I find myself becoming numb to his verbal snipes and we can go for days without talking much. He usually apologizes for what he said but never for drinking. I am babbling, my question is, do I tell our children (14, 5, 3)? They don’t relate his change in behavior to drinking, they just think daddy is in a bad mood. Don’t get me wrong, he is not outwardly mean or rude, doesn’t slur words and is fully functioning around the house. But, regardless, I can tell by his eyes and demeanor when he drinks. Any ideas?

  • Dee

    I am so glad someone finally mentioned the fact that their husband isn’t shaving or showering as much as they should. I am married to an alcoholic who is highly functioning (he is an attorney) but also deeply rooted in denial. And the highly functioning part becomes less so over the years. He has completely let himself go (he is 51). He goes days without showering (unless he has a client or court date). He drinks at least a 12 pack a day and consumes alcohol while he drives (the empty beer cans are left in the console of his car). He is completely impotent so there is no intimacy (and at 41, I gotta say, I didn’t intend to give up on sex this early). He does not exercise at all. He just works and stands at his work bench in the garage and drinks and smokes cigars. He passes out around 7 o’clock every night only to wander down stairs sometime after midnight, drink some more, and pass out again during the night. I am in the process of legally separating from him because of his drinking and driving but I can’t leave thanks to having no job at this time. I am financially trapped. There is no codependency and no being enmeshed. I am clear with him that his lifestyle is unacceptable to me. I have my own life, my own friends, I am graduating from law school in 3 months and as soon as I am able, I will be gone. What a waste of a life. I know the instant I walk in (either the slurred word or the glassy bloodshot eyes…) and he thinks I don’t know…

  • anniex

    My husband is a alcoholic, we have been married 5yrs together 12, so yeah, I know, I should never have married him.

    We have 3 daughters, aged 11, 10 and 3. Over the past 4 yrs he has had so much help to stop drinking, but it lasts a matter of weeks, then he’s back to a pack of beer a night and sometimes a bottle of vodka.

    He hates me havin a life. I get moaned at if I say I want a night out with my friends which I don’t see much of anymore.

    He had over the past couple of yrs started messing with my head, so it always feels like I am the 1 in the wrong–its all my fault.

    I have tried finishing it with him so many times, but he won’t leave and he knows I have no where to go, so I now am at a point where I know now, yes, he’s won.

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Anniex,

    You would settle for an unhappy marriage to a man would would like nothing better than to be out of the marriage, but is too much of a coward to leave?? Alcoholics have to blame others, so how could he blame you for ending the marriage if he left?

    There is always a way, but not always a comfortable way. If you can’t do it for you, do it for your children. Think about what you are modeling. Would you want your children to stay in a bad marriage no matter what?

  • Steph

    My husband is an infantryman in the US Army, and over the past 5 years has been deployed 4 times. He has started to drink more each day, going through about a fifth of vodka eaach week. He drinks when I am not home or before I get home from work to “unwind’. He does not show any interest in me and does not seem to care how my day was, etc if he is drinking. He does go to a bar maybe once per week or once everyother week, always with one of his Army buddies. He rarely gets “drunk” but always drinks to have a buzz. I do not purchase his liquor, have confronted him about his drinking and he says he drinks to releive his stress. He says that his heart beats really fast/ flutters and drinking makes him calm down. When he is drinking, he is distant and absent even when in the same room as me. Any advise for my situation would be VERY apprecieated

  • Dr. Neill Neill

    Dear Steph,

    Drinking does help him relax, but it is taking a toll on the family (you) and eventually he may become addicted. It sounds very much like he is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder PTSD. (I’ve been there and it’s awful.) He should get himself assessed and treated if necessary.

    The military is introducing new programs almost weekly to help soldiers and vets who have been traumatized by combat. If he gets the help he needs, the alcohol crutch may disappear before he becomes addicted and he can return to living a more normal life.

  • Crazy Cat

    I am a 30 yr old who married my high school sweetheart. I love him dearly and we have two girls, 9 and 7. we would drink at parties in school and i never thought anything of it. But now, 5yrs into the marriage, 16 yrs together it is becomming a major problem. For the first 8 yrs of my oldest daughter, i didn’t have a car, friends, or any way to go anywhere. Reciently he bought me a car and now i travel. But when i do he wants to know where, when who i saw, and so on. He comes home from work and heads straight to the basement where he pickles his brain (so he likes to call it) until i get the kids to bed, then he goes to bed or wants sex, which i don’t always since he’s drunk, but that seems to be the only way i can get it now. And now he can get it up but it takes forever to finish, i think this may have something to do with his drinking or smoking pot. He rarely helps with the kids, going out or school functions, hardly even tucks them in at night anymore, i feel like an only parent at times. I talk to him and he doesn’t hear me or forgets what i said and this only causes fights later when he says i didn’t tell him.
    He doesn’t want me too work, says he has dreams i meet someone and go off with them, i have never cheated and tell him all the time i never would, but he gets very jealous when i go out, even if im with him. I get hit on and he doesn’t say anything to the guy doing the hitting on me, just waits and tells me later how he can’t trust anyone. As far as male friends go, no no no. It would only cause more tension. He says he can see me cheating and no matter what i say i don’t ease his concerns, i feel like he’s trying to push me away at times. I’v also wondered if he’s cheating on me but between his work and drinking in the basement, i don’t think he could find the time.
    I am growing and finding myself, i love to hang with friends and wish he would too but he’s usually too busy drinking. He says my new friend is a bad influence on me because she is open minded and will tell him what she thinks but that hurts me, my only frind. He has stopped trying to look good for me other then when he wants sex, like brushing his teeth and showering.
    He feels our marriage is great regardless of the number of times i’v told him i’d like him to spend more time as a father and to try not being so paranoid, but i on the other hand feel a marriage should hold more then this. And i forgot to mention he has bad anxiety and takes paxel for it, along with his addictions. My father was an alcoholic and my mother missused perscription pills, and his parents didn’t drink at all.
    I am very concerned where our marriage is heading even if he doesn’t seem to see notice its going down hill. And every word i say to him falls on deaf ears.

  • Debbie

    I have been with my husband for 24 years and have 3 grown up children. Over the years my husband’s drinking has got gradually worse to the point now that I am positive that he is drink driving and he hides the amount he is drinking from me, but i know he has had a lot more than he admits to. He has lost 3 of his very close friends to alcohol related deaths and i thought that this would shock him, but he just doesn’t seem to care and just brushes it off when i mention it.

    I have tried threatening to leave and giving him ultimatums to which he responds by saying he hasn’t got a problem and then he doesn’t have a drink for a few days ( or at least i dont think he does) but soon goes back to normal consumption. Everytime i have been ill he totally ignores me for days on end, not even coming into the bedroom to see if i am ok.

    At Christmas i found a lump in my breast but didn’t tell anyone for 3 months because i was so scared that he would just ignore me, but in the end i told my daughter and she came with me for the biopsy. Two days before i went to get my results i told my husband that i had been for a biopsy and he went absolutely ballistic smashing the bedroom up and manhandling me to the point that i had large bruises on my arms and legs. He was screaming and shouting at me like he never had before calling me an evil vindictive twisted bitch and telling me that i had only DONE IT ??? to make him look bad. He then proceeded to kick me out of my home. On the morning that i was due to get my results he rang my daughter and told her to tell me that he loved me and hoped that everything was ok with my results… but he then text me saying “im at work till 5…. go home and get your stuff” I just don’t understand how he can say one thing to my daughter and be totally different in a text to me???
    We have now been split up for 2 months and i have not heard anything from him at all… I just want him to say SORRY to me, but throughout our whole marriage that is one word he has never used and believe me he has done many many things to me over the years.

    I am soooo confused i dont know whats going on…. I did nothing to this man and he has just shoved me out of his life and totally ignored me.

    Is this normal for an alcoholic to show no empathy to somebody they claim to love with all their heart? Is it normal for an alcoholic to totally ignore that someone and go about their life as if nothing has happened.

    When friends have asked him why we split up all he says is that ” you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors” He never tells anybody the truth and seems to be denying what has happened to himself too.

    My house is now a pigsty with motorbikes and engines in all rooms and my husband now no longer works where as before he always went to work.
    I am so worried about him but can not go and see him unless he apologizes to me because I’ve really had enough of his behaviour, but i know that he will NEVER apologize to me or admit the breakup was his fault. But i really am worried sick that he is killing himself and don’t know what to do.

  • Hi Debbie,

    There isn’t much you can do for someone when they are intent on killing themselves. Alcoholism is not rational, so bizarre, irrational behaviour, including obvious lying, is the rule, not the exception.

    You are worried because you care. However, the best thing for you to do is look after yourself: regain your sense of self apart from him; regain you personal power; do whatever you need to do create a life for yourself.

    It appears your identity is somewhat merged with his. That’s codependency, and it can keep you trapped. it’s much too dangerous to go back. So get help. If you were local, you could book an appointment to see me. However, I am also available by telephone.

  • kimberly

    I have been involved with an alcoholic for 10 years we have a 20 month old son. When we planned our son, he promised along with his family of recovered alcoholics, that he would change…then at the hospital he appeared drunk embarrassed me and family Needless to say, it only got worse. I moved out 2 months ago, but he still comes over and stays and I allow it drunk or sober… now I’m thinking to move back because i never realized how much he really did help me when around…he drinks every night, about 3 24oz, more on Friday nights, weekends, always is out in the barn drinking says to avoid me bitching over the beer….my mother tells me i enable him…, i feel i can’t change him, he does become very mean verbally when drinking has tried help never continues it, anxiety is so high but refusing medication. He tells the doctor i want him medicated.. but lies to the doctor. i am lost we both don’t want a split family but i don’t want my son to follow his foot steps. Will he if we live together again????? please help me

  • Hello Kimberly,

    Growing up with an alcoholic father will have a lot of impact on your son, most of it not good. It could hamper his ability to be a good father, even if he doesn’t become a drinker. The issue of whether you live together or separately is less important to your son than how well you handle conflict. The arguing, meanness and “bitching” can be very damaging to a child at any age, but especially to a young child. It sounds like you would not be doing your son a favor by living together again. I’m sorry it has to be such a tough decision.

  • Lana

    Hi,
    I met my now husband fourteen years ago, and was new to the community and didn’t know anything about his background or habits. When we were first dating, he didn’t drink very much when he was out with me, but I would find out about his activities from other people who would tell me that he had been out at the local bar, or that he was seen at someones place, etc. A few months into the relationship he began to show up intoxicated at times, or I would notice that different people would occasionally show up at his place and he’d end up drinking with them or just leaving with them even if he had other plans or obligations. It seemed very normal to him.

    We had discussions about it, and I broke up with him twice, and even moved away because I had a very good career opportunity and I didn’t have a desire to change his habits or the habits of the others in the community. When I moved away, we kept in touch, and he sincerely wanted to change. Also I was removed from his activities, so they seemed to be less of an issue when there was just the two us.

    He proposed and I had to move back to his community because he is self employed and was financially committed to his business. I was reluctant and told him it was too late, but he was persuasive and I wanted to love him. Once I moved back, the old habits were evident. One night a week or every two weeks he wouldn’t come home when he said he would, and say he ended up over at the neighbors, or at another friend’s or at the bar. At first it was every few weeks, then once a month, and now it occurs even less, however, I become very angry that it even happens at all.

    His first wife also became an addict (drugs and alcohol) after they were together for over fifteen years, and their kids really suffered. (One is in a gang and the other two have difficulty getting along with others)

    I don’t drink, have a good job and we now have two terrific kids so there are some good things. However, I do most of the parenting because his father was a poor role model and his mother died when he was seventeen. He is learning to be a parent through me, but I am sorry to have ever met him sometimes, and would not choose to be with a drinker ever again. I am tired of the pattern. My parents didn’t drink and were very strong people.. Do you have any suggestions/advice to help me to avoid becoming too angry and bitter. I try to keep my identity and my own interests, etc. but often wonder why I didn’t make better choices.
    Lana

  • Hi Lana,

    Who among us has not made some bad choices? Never forget that as long as you live, you make choices every day. The key question is, “Are the choices you made today better because of what you learned from the bad choices?” You can get help to overcome your anger and head off bitterness. The problem is that if you succeed, you may choose to separate for the sake of the children and for your own sanity. Is that what you’re afraid of? You have tough choices ahead of you.

  • Living with a Functional Alcoholic

    I am married to a functional alcoholic. I don’t believe in divorce and I believe that alcoholism is an illness. His father, grandfather, and other relatives were also alcoholics. I also believe that even though he has this illness that with proper treatment he could stop drinking.

    I am a capable person and I need little help but what I do need at times is a sounding board. I just need someone to vent to once in awhile. In my attempt to find a circle of supportive friends, I sometimes encounter people who to attack and blame me. What I don’t need is more advice or any more books to read. I have read until I can’t see anymore.

    Through the past ten years I have suggested all of the usual help methods to my husband. I have asked, discussed, begged, threatened and even left him. He refuses any kind of help, treatment or counseling. He does however admit that he is an alcoholic and has made it very clear that he has no intentions of quitting. Not for himself, me, his son, or for any other reason. He admits that he knows of the dangers. Of course he knows the dangers as I have bombarded him (like people have bombarded me) with every health article and other media I could get my hands on. He is fifty years old and knows he has a life threatening problem/illness and has decided to do nothing about it.

    I tire of people accusing me of being an enabler and I wish they would read the definition before they use the word, or that I am somehow causing or helping my husband drink. He was drunk long before I met him and will probably continue to drink for the rest of his life by his own decision. I do not lie for him, buy alcohol for him, or make excuses for him. I coexist with him somewhat independently. I care and treat my own life, health, and marriage the way I want to. HE treats his life, health, and marriage in the way HE decides. I do not let his behavior change mine or who I am.

    I feel that I am now in an emotionally healthy place that took several years to come to. In the beginning I fumbled through my own kind of denial which was, that I thought my husband wanted to stop drinking. When I realized that he doesn’t want to stop I had to emotionally fumble through that trauma as well which was a huge stressor in my life. Imagine the love of your life telling you that they intend to slowly and painfully commit suicide. Though I won’t leave him alone or be without him, I do let him know that I do not support his decision. He and I have decided to agree to disagree. I have also made it clear to him that I will not tolerate him bringing his issues into my life. In other words, “do what you’re going to do but keep it away from me”. Things in my home are ok for me now and I can live here. When I realized that his decisions are his to make I had a profound feeling of freedom that words cannot describe! I was finally detached from his issues that were stressing and worrying me daily. Since I discovered that he is a grown man who can make his own decisions the stress has simply left me! In fact, I often say to him, “you’re a grown man; you know what you’re doing to yourself”.

    I also have a health issue (no, not an addiction) and my new attitude regarding his illness has helped me to become healthier and happier. I am now less isolated. I now go out with friends and see my relatives. This does not mean that I love or care less for him. It just means that I love and care for myself just as much and I am not going to let him take me down with him. I am as important as he is. I feel I have accomplished something rare and nearly impossible! I have actually learned how to function with a functional alcoholic!

    So, I’d like to say this to someone who chooses to live with an addicted spouse. Do what you want to do, AS LONG AS IT IS HEALTHY FOR YOU. Not leaving your spouse does not mean that you are an enabler. Accept your spouse’s addiction as their decision not yours. This is difficult at first but you will love the way you feel when you get there. Remember, it is NOT your job to make your spouse stop drinking; it is your spouse’s job. People will always think they know your situation better than you do and give you conflicting, hurtful, and confusing advice. They will even try to put blame on you. Find safe people to sound off to. Find people who won’t wrongly judge or attack you. You have enough stress and a long, bumpy road ahead of you. Turn to true friends who will just listen and lend their shoulders when yours get tired.

  • Dear Valerie,

    I took the liberty of bolding your last paragraph, because you describe with profound clarity the art of living with an alcoholic and choosing to stay in your long-term marriage .

    I would urge every woman who comes here that she read your heartfelt and thoughtful contribution. Thank you, Valerie.

  • Mrs. Why

    I know my husband is a functional alcoholic.I love this man and would give anything for this not to be true. We have being friends for over 20 yrs. or more. I watch him go through divorce with his first wife(she was addicted to drugs) which was extra hard on him because he was left with two girls under the age 16yrs. When this happen I didn’t notice what affect it was having on the children.

    Drinking is what he used to deal with stress or any other emotions. He works over 12 hrs. a day and comes home with beer every night.On weekends its starts early in the morning and continue until bedtime. He’s not to the point of physical abuse. But emotional, verbal,and all the rest is YES.

    I’m very God fearing woman and don’t believe in divorce. But I need help and don’t know what to do. I’ve isolated myself from friends and family because I hate the shame of anyone knowing whats this man has turn into my worst nightmare for a husband. All his friends are drinkers that reassure him that he don’t have a problem, and hes entitled to drink as much as he wants in his own home.They all think its funny to talk about who can drink the most beers in a day….. !!!

    The arguments have gotten out of control, He blames me for everything when it comes to his drinking. Its really sad that now he don’t take care of personal self unlike he use to do; body to his regularly hair cuts.

    We were best friends to each other and could spend hrs.talking;now we have nothing in common to talk about but his drinking problem. I don’t like to be around him and that’s just what this relationship is. He stays in garage until its time pass out. I stay in the bedroom to myself or with his younger daughter when she here. Making sure that she don’t deals with him when he’s drinking.

    Please give some advice on how to help him help his self and
    what I should do to help myself????
    Thanks
    Mrs.Why

  • Dear Mrs. Why,

    Probably the best thing you can do for him is to do something for yourself. Alcohol abusers love to have everything revolve around them. Your not telling your friends what’s going on, your discussing his drinking with him, your reminding him to shower (if you do), your not having your own interests and friends and a host of other things all support him in his continuing to abuse alcohol.

    I do offer telephone support to women in your situation. Call 1-888-MY-ETHER ext. 04254397

    Whether you use my services or someone else’s, get help for youself. What you are living with is sucking the life out of you.

  • Barbara

    I can really identify with Joan. I’m in the same situation 60 years old, but I’ve detached from him years ago. There is no remorse for any of the pain he has caused us.

    My problem is our 5 children although they are good people and out on their own they have adopted a pattern of verbally abusing me and making me the scapegoat. My husband just sits there and watches and almost enjoys it. So I’ve decided to not see them until they can learn to be respectful to me. Of course my sadistic husband enjoys these episodes.

    I don;t know if I could afford a divorce now. And since I have a lot of freedom and handle all the finances, I’m OK. I also have 2 wonderful sisters and really good friends who are there for me.

    But I feel very trapped. I feel I deserve much better

    Barb

  • Debbie

    My husband and I will be married for 14 years this monday. When I met my husband, he did not drink. He had been clean and sober for 9 years before I met him. 5 years ago he started to drink again. At first it was just social, now its every night, every weekend, every excuse. He blames me. I am a stay home wife, with two sons, who are on their own now. He loves to go out with them and drink.

    I feel utterly and completely alone. I do not drink and never have as both my parents were alcoholics. I never wanted to be with anybody who drank. now I am once again, surrounded by drinkers. I have no friends, no job, no skills for a job, and I feel lost. I love my husband very much, he is a good provider, a good father and it was always me and him against the world. Now I feel as if I am on my own. Its me against my whole family.

    I do not know what to do, where to go, what to say. I am glad I found this web site. it just might be a start to some kind of change for me.

    Thank you,

    Debbie

  • Casey

    My heart is breaking reading these comments. It really makes me feel that all hope is lost for my marriage. My husband is passed out on the couch as I write this.

    I am 30 and a mother of a darling 1 yr old. I met my husband almost 5 years ago and all of the warning signs were there. My gut was screaming at me not to marry him and I did anyway. He made me feel trapped that he needed me and would be doomed if I didn’t stay with him. He still makes me feel that way.

    He drank before he took his wedding vows and he came to the hospital drinking to pick me and our brand new baby up to take us home. He has very deep seated issues (father abandoned him at 11, little sister died of cancer when he was 18 and 3 mos later his alcoholic mother committed suicide). He is also Bipolar and takes medication for it. Sober, he’s wonderful. He is a doting dad and husband. I swear it’s the bipolar that makes him want to drink. When he’s manic he feels great and wants to feel even better so he drinks. When he’s low, he’s depressed and wants to drink.

    Four months ago he agreed to get help and did 30 days in rehab. Three days after he got out he binged so hard we had to take him to the ER because he was vomiting blood. They said if we didn’t bring him in he would have died. This apparently didn’t phase him. He was very combative to me AND his 76 yr old grandmother, spitting in our faces, kicking us and cussing us. Two days later he drank again and kicked me out. As I was trying to pack stuff for me and my baby he threatened me with a sword (i had already hid his guns). His friend came by to talk to him and he beat him up. Then he started an 8 wk out patient program and has drank and lied to them the whole time tell them that he’s sober. In the past few weeks, he has wrecked his truck twice (one a hit and run) lost our dog (we found her 3 days later) got arrested for public intoxication while urinating in a church parking lot of all things, and the worse thing in my book just happened the other day. He went with his cousin (who is a drug addict) and withdrew our last $200 and smoked crack for the first time.

    I have tried detaching but when someone is threatening to basically destroy everything around them I am afraid I have no other choice but to leave. I run a fairly successful business and am so worried he could hurt someone and they could sue and somehow take everything I have worked 9 yrs to build. I don’t know how and why I ever got mixed up with him. I did and do love him. I really was stupid enough to think I could change him and he’s only gotten worse since I have been with him. He knows how to manipulate me though into thinking that he will just get worse or kill himself if I leave.

    People don’t understand why we stay, my whole family and friends look at me like I am dumb and want answers from me as to why I stay. It is so hard when the next day the good guy is back and tells you how sorry he is and how much he loves you and the child. He always makes me believe he will try harder. It’s not easy to walk away from someone you love and who is sick. It’s hard to leave someone who has been abandoned by everyone. He literally has no other family besides us and his grandmother who’s health is ailing from all the stress he puts on her. I am terrified that I will leave and he will die and I have to explain that to my child one day.

    Yet I am more terrified if stay that she will become an alcoholic one day. I just don’t understand how all these dads I am reading about on here can’t see what they will do to their children. I was a drinker (a lot of it was to cope with him) and a smoker when I found out I was pregnant and alcoholism runs in my family. I could easily be an alcoholic and I think I pretty much was one (I drank a bottle of wine a night and then some by myself). But I stopped smoking and drinking on the spot when I found out.

    When I look at my daughter I draw all the strength in the world from her. I would give up anything including my life for her. She inspires me to be the best person I can be. Why can’t he get it? I stopped cold turkey with no rehab, and he’s only getting worse.

  • Tara

    I have a 3 year old son with my “Boy friend” whom has progressively been drinking more and more over the past 6 years . He drinks about (4) 32 oz. beers a day. His first stop after work is the corner store at which time he will purchase 2 beers. By the time I get home from work he has gone to the corner store at least one or even two more times and is working on his 4th 32oz. beer or sometimes even more. He is loud and sometimes very aggressive. We have no relationship because he is so selfish and is unable to think about the feelings of those in the house.

    I have started making plans in my head about how to leave and do it somewhat peacefully. I am just at my breaking point to put my plans in action. Although I am scared on how I can be a single mom again only this time with two children.

    He apologized to me this morning for being verbally abusive last night. I told him his apology means nothing any more because he still continues to act out. He is on edge of losing his family yet he doesn’t care.

    I have no addiction issues nor does anyone in my family so this is all new territory for me. There is no easy answer to my situation, especially when children are involved.

  • Faith

    I got married in 2007. We had not dated for very long. But he seemed like a wonderful guy. My sister knew him and all of us attended the same church. I thought we had the same beliefs, overall morals. Not saying that anyone is perfect all of the time or anything. His father is a pastor that teaches in another state. But I understand that none of this is their fault, but I trusted that he had some principles instilled in him that I also have. I think that he does. But anyway… I knew him for a bit before 2006 he had helped my sister and her husband paint their house and he was a handsome, personable, seemed like kind hearted individual. Everyone though he was great including me. I had recently gotten out of a verbally abusive relationship with at different man I had dated him since I was 19-23. I guess at the time I didn’t realize how bad he was everyone told me, I just dealt with it and thought oh no he loves me. He ended up hitting me and I left in 2006 and then ended up dating the guy that helped paint my sister’s house.

    It was wonderful, what a difference, he came to pick me up, he took me out to eat, my family liked him, he was sweet, not to mention very attractive, everyone thought he was a good guy, including me, I was completely impressed and we really started to understand eachother mentally and had a fun. He would pick me up and we’d go out to eat. He drank some, but I thought it was just socially or you know we were on a date, I sometimes would drink one or two drinks but nothing major.

    He proposed to me three months later. I was sooo excited, here he was finally a guy that understood me, had same values, same ducks in a row, family and friends liked him, and I found him extremely attractive. I admit it had only been a little while, but I had stayed with the last guy for 4 years…. and well I guess he really never wanted to get married, and since he hit me and all guess i gave up too. But here was this gorgeous, understanding man who wanted to marry me and I thought we had a lot of beliefs in common.

    So we got married in July. I did notice some drinking things. I told his family about my concerns, but you know we were going to get married in july and this was may or so and so they didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. Guess I was just trying to figure out whether the drinking was just social or not. But he was 33 and hadn’t been living with is parents since he was 18 so guess they don’t really know what he’s like at home anyway. I was 24. They are not to blame, just I voiced some concern. Then I told him that I wanted to wait 3 months or that … I wanted to postpone the wedding. He sobbed and pleaded on the floor, I am sorry I want to get married, I will stop drinking. I will…. Me being way too sensative believed his plea.

    Well as soon as we were on our honeymoon, well why don’t we go bar hopping? and not to mention his temper flared up the whole time we drove on our 8 hour away destination. He just can’t handle busy traffic, it infuriates him. I didn’t really realize that until we drove such a long distance. He gets easily angered by sitting in traffic, throws the f bomb. cusses, drives like speed racer, even though I tell him it bothers me, but he just says, “you need to relax.” “you worry too much.” “you need to trust me when I drive.” even though I am so tailgating this person…we could colide with them at any second if I’m not paying attention.

    Sorry .. anyways yeah most of the time at the beach he just wanted to drink. He didn’t even really want to do anything else if you get my drift. Not to mention, this has been the story for almost 3 years now. When we came back from our honeymoon, everything was different. He had 12 beers or more a night all the time, like anywhere from 3-6 nights a week. I told him it was stressing me out I could get sleep to get up and go to work. He was always getting plastered and yelling and cussing at me and tell him me I was full of it. Sometimes even saying things that he said I said to him that i had never said before. Maybe an x I don’t know. if I had to work 1-9 I’d come home he’d be totally out of it. He’d yell at me for about 2 hours and I mean really let me have it verbally, then he’d cry for about an hour, then he’d talk a bit to himself or the poor cat, and then pass out. I cared about him, I didn’t know what to do. The next day he just would be all lovey. Act like nothing happened. And if I was in a sour mood, he’d say “what’s your problem? Why are you in such a bad mood?” Now it’s just, “oh you’re going to argue again?” This has happened to me so many times I don’t even know… just became a routine in our relationship. I tried to tell talk to him to tell him I think there is an alcohol problem. He totally denys everything, there is no problem. So I went a long with it for years. Same thing just kept on happening. Then he did start drinking a bit less, but always had to have the 16oz 6 pack. Lucky for us there is a bar right up the street from our house. You can walk there.

    So he had less, I wouldn’t let him buy the 24 pack in the boxes anymore for I knew he’d prob drink it all in a day or within 2 days. So he went to the 6 pack and sometimes would go up to the bar to have one or two more. Or get another 6 pack if we were in an argument about his drinking. I’ve numerous times just gone and sat in my car just to get away from him yelling. I’ve sobbed and talked out my friends and poor parents. Been calling one of my friends I’ve know for 13 years..been calling her since 2007. Just helps for someone to listen. And yes I blamed myself a lot. And he would deny… “I don’t have a problem, I provide, ” then that became the excuss. “it’s not that bad, I go to work everyday, I can have a beer here and there I work all the time.” Well I worked too at a pharmacy and really needed to be alert, but was very tired of him yelling and drinking at night so I could barely sleep most of the time. Got to a point where I had acid reflux I swear because of all the stress, and not being able to sleep. Always wondering what he was going to be like when I got home. Hey one night he might be ok, the next not so much. We’d go to church, everyone would ask him how his dad is. He’d be Mr. Nice guy and talk to everyone, then when we got home he’d drink, or the next day. Just all so confusing and stressful for me too.

    Well Feb 2009 I just had enough he came to pick me up at my parents where I had spent the weekend an hour away, we had already had to please stop drinking conversation a million times! He came to pick me up the car and him wreaked of booze. “oh I just had a couple, was shoveling snow and a neighbor offered them to me.” “why are you making this such a big deal?” Then when I was upset he started to drive really fast and started cussing and yelling at other drivers even though he was cutting them off.

    I had him pull over and called my dad. I stayed with my parents til April. Then I missed him so much and wanted to make our marriage work somehow. I wanted to get help. I offered to go with him, etc. He woudn’t because he doesn’t have a problem. He was sober for a week. Then needless to say it all happened again, but this time I recorded it it just the audio for myself so the next morning when he’d say, “why are you in a bad mood, ah you want to start this again.” basically the next morning when he didn’t remember, I would and I wouldn’t let myself sweep it under the carpet, not this time!
    So I went back with my parents for a month. He did text me a lot while he was drinking and blamed me and text some awful things to me.

    Now it is June. I am back at our house again. I wanted to take one last time to see if we could salvage anything. He hasn’t drank for a month. Longest he’s ever gone. But I’m scared, just waiting to see if he can keep it up. And trying to see if his temper without drinking will flair up too. His parents are coming into town next week. He only gets to see them once a year. I know he will be all sweet to me in front of them, like we just have a normal marriage and there is nothing wrong and if there is it is because I am depressed or I am not the most pleasant person to be around either. Which I understand but mainly due to the fact I’m trying to decide whether to stay or go this last time around.

    What is your advice? Anybody? I don’t want to bring kids into our marriage it would be awful. I don’t want anyone else to ever have to go through this. He normally doesn’t like me in that way anyway… I think sometimes he can’t function because maybe because he prob been drinking like this for a least 10 years or more, just no one knew because no one had to live with him before. Or at least they don’t know how bad it can get. I’ve made it clear to him if he gets so drunk and yells at me again I’m gone. I’m tired of wasting my life and worrying about it. I will really have to go back to school and live with my parents for a while, but just glad that I have a place to go. But I don’t want kids with him, guess just have to grit my teeth this fourth of july when his parents are in and see what he does. I feel so alone and bitter because of all the things that have happened. I don’t trust him. That’s going to take a long time if he continues to stop the drinking. I don’t want to be bitter, just afraid at anytime he could go back to it. Angry because for so long I’ve just had to shut up and no one knows at church. That’s a good thing. But just so angry that I always have to be the one to suck it up and act like everything is fine. I don’t want to live a lie! I want someone who is genuine and honest and who isn’t addicted to anything. I want to try to fix it? But I don’t trust him at all. That will take a long time to get back. I don’t know whether to stay or to go? Guess I will just have to see what he does for a while. Any advice anyone? Sorry so long, just been keeping it bottled up inside for 3 years …except to my family and friends.

  • Emily

    My husband and I are newly married (1 year). I have 4 children from a previous marriage and he has 2 and I am now 2 months pregnant with our first. We married quickly but knew each other for a while before ever dating. We would have drinks together on dates and everything was fine.

    After we married we quickly started fighting (all verbal). I have never been a fighter. I’m laid back and can easily talk things out and move on. The fights we had would always escalate to screaming and crying because he would be soooo unreasonable, immature, and spiteful. He’s not at all like this when sober.

    I believe he is a functioning alcoholic. Great father, great with his family, hard worker, stays in shape, eats well, and we are great together when he’s not drinking. But he drinks EVERY night. At LEAST 2-3 glasses of straight vodka and then he moves on to beer. Sometimes it’s fine. Most other times he falls asleep on the couch and I go to bed alone, and there is no sex unless it’s the next morning. Other times, there are the fights. I guess about once a month, but sometimes more.

    He belittles me. Calls me a liar. Says I don’t do anything to raise our kids properly or discipline them. he constantly says he can do anything he wants with out any “permission”” or with out discussing it with me including “raising the discipline to the next level” with MY children…. Many times He is over it in the morning and sometimes I get an apology, but the same topics plus new ones get brought up again later when the drinking starts. I try to avoid this by not responding to topics that might be serious or might push a button with him, but it’s getting to the point that I feel scared or nervous to even be around him once he’s started drinking since he might go off.

    He’s moved on to stronger discipline with the kids, or yelling at them, or griping at me about them which I can’t just avoid like the topics that might just address us. I don’t know what to do. I can’t just gather up me and the kids and leave every night while he drinks….I don’t want to walk on egg shells every night but can…it’s a shame though. He’s a VERY strong and confident person and VERY much in denial. He gets very upset if the topic of his alcohol is ever even brought up.

    I also think he might be some what narcissistic..? he always talks bout how great he is and how people copy him or want to be like him and how EXTREMELY successful he’ll be one day. I think confidence is great, but most people find his level either laughable or outright arrogant… I don’t know what to do. I’ve looked at Al Anon and will go to the next meeting but I did go to a chat room of theirs and it seems much like just talking and no direction as to what to do. He won’t ever consider counseling. His ex called him an alcoholic and his divorce decree even says he can’t drink in front of the kids (but he does). He’s a great guy…but needs help…I know he won’t get it unless HE wants it….

    Big topic I almost forgot. He was addicted to speed for about 3 years. He’s tried almost every drug out there. he called himself out when he hit bottom and told all of his family and detached himself from that world. That was about 4-5 years ago. I’m always worried about that too…

  • Hi Emily,

    You didn’t ask for a reply, but I will comment on one point anyway. You say “he won’t get it unless HE wants it.” I disagree. He
    does get it, but he won’t do anything about it until HE is ready. As it stands there is no incentive for him to change anything. His bullying keeps you under his control and allows him to keep on drinking. If anything is to change, first you must change. You may have to go the way of his ex, but there is no way of knowing in advance what will happen with him if he can no longer scare you and bully you into silence.

    Best wishes.

    get it.

  • At the end of my rope

    Dr. Neill, thank you. My husband is an alcoholic, and I’m afraid that I have slipped into the codependency role you mention in your post, and I don’t want to be. The stress is taking a toll on me, and our son, who just does not deserve this at all. I have one question I hope you can answer for me, please:

    Is it dangerous for alcoholics to stop drinking alcohol all at once? This is the only reason I still buy his alcohol, because I’m afraid that it is dangerous to just stop altogether, without him being weaned off by a medical professional. He refuses to acknowledge that he has a problem, so getting him to see a doctor about the alcoholism is impossible right now, there is no reasoning with him anymore. Lately, in sheer desperation, I’ve been gradually watering down his Vodka, managing to replace the alcohol by increasingly small amounts of water, without his realizing it, but I’m afraid if I water it down too much he’ll notice, or that it may become dangerous for him.

    Any advice?

    Thanks

  • Dear At the end of my rope,

    Yes, stopping cold turkey can be dangerous. It’s much safer to do it under a doctor’s supervision, even better in a detox facility. He does know he has a problem. He just doesn’t want to face it.

    For things to change, first you have to change. At present he has absolutely no incentive to deal with his alcohol problem or even admit he has one. You could start by talking with his doctor, even if he has forbidden it.

    Do what you have to do for you and your son to make sure the present doesn’t continue.
    Best wishes.

  • Panda

    When I first met my husband I drank as badly as he did. But i became pregnant six months into our relationship. So i quit. His drinking increased. But we got married before the baby was born. Now its way worse. He gets drunk and verbally abuses me but doesn’t realize what he is doing. I have poured my heart out to him telling him what he is doing to our family and he says he will “do better”, he is “sorry” but it only last a couple days and he goes right back. He is unemployed and I work hard to support our family. He doesn’t seem to appreciate it, and he doesn’t give any attention to me or his kids. he sit’s in front of his playstation and drinks.. that’s it. I LOVE him.. i don’t wanna divorce him. but it’s just to the point I am unhappy most the time. Can you offer any advice???

  • Hi Panda,

    Your unhappiness is your center telling you that something has to change. You have to be safe (no abuse) and get a life. If he continues to decide he doesn’t want a life and would rather just kill himself slowly, then you may have to leave him. You are both being less-than-ideal models for your children. He models the irritable, withdrawn drunk. You could be modeling the long suffering woman who stays with her man no matter what.

    What I’m suggesting, Panda, is take stock of you life and then take charge.

  • Allison

    I have been married to an alcoholic for almost 10 years and have 2 children and 2 step children with him, who have lived with us full time. I feel physically sickened by the sound of a can being opened, even if it is a soda because the sound just makes me think of my husband opening ANOTHER beer. I go to bed alone every night while my husband stays up and drinks.

    I feel so much anger and resentment for the years of incidents we have had to deal with surrounding his drunkenness. I feel hatred towards him when he is drunk, when I hear him slurring I tell him to stop talking to me. I feel sick physically.

    I am currently in college and I know even when I am done I couldn’t support my family, I feel so helpless and stuck. I have been to ALANON and feel like they are so different from me, they are all either divorced or their spouses no longer drink. My husband does not want to stop drinking.

    I cant live this way forever, I just don’t see a way out and it is depressing and daunting. I have gained excessive weight and gone on anti-depressants but the problem isn’t mine to fix. I don’t know what to do. I am a wreck and he drinks his way through life as relaxed as could be.

  • Alison, you say the problem is not yours to fix, but you may be looking at the wrong problem.

    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. He continues to do it, and will continue to do it, because there are no consequences. The drunk is seldom the one to initiate change; rather, he avoids change by drinking.

    Your problem is that your body continues to tell you (“anger…resentment…hatred…sick physically…helpless…”) that something has to change, but you choose to wait for him to do it. He won’t.

    I’ve been there…in a 10-year committed 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 was sending, and do something completely contrary to my beliefs: end the marriage. There were awful consequences, but it was the right decision.

    Your job is to make some new choices about how you will live your life. It is not your job to know in advance how the details will unfold. (He will be a part of how you support your family, just as he is now, but how you will get there is unknowable.)

    You have my very best wishes.

  • Lost

    I’ve been with my husband for over 10 years, and I knew he was an alcoholic before I married him. I knew having children wouldn’t fix it, but I still chose to have kids with him. We have two young children and I’m currently pregnant. All were planned, even though I knew it would be difficult…. especially this time because he’s in school and not working. When we have enough money to pay the bills and support his habit, things are easier. Now that we’re on a strict budget, and can’t afford to support his addiction, we’re fighting more. I’m considering getting a separate bank account to deposit my check, and giving him money for gas, just to insure our money goes where it needs to go, otherwise we don’t have enough money for bills, food, or gas, but of course he’s going to be really upset if that happens. He’s never been abusive in anyway. However, it can be difficult to have a serious conversation with him when he’s had too much to drink because you can’t reason with him. I know I must sound crazy for having more children with someone who has these issues, but he is a good father, and for the most part a good husband. I just don’t know what to do, and I’m feeling stupid for allowing my life to go in this direction because I could have made a different choice, but then I wouldn’t have my beautiful children.

  • Marie

    My husband & I have been together for 6 years and we have a 7 month old boy. It really is since our son was born that my husband’s drinking got way out of control. He has had episodes before but then periods of good times. He’s always been a really heavy drinker and maybe its only now that I really see how much he drinks. I guess I kind of turned blind eye for so long. I am holding out that there will be more good times ahead but he just lost his job due to his drinking and immediately got another job so he thinks like he’s invincible. He drinks mostly straight vodka and often waits for me to go to bed before he hits the bottle really hard. The weekends are an exception though that’s when he can drink during the day or afternoon depending on his mood. I also think he’s clinically depressed.

    I agree that I am co-dependent but I need time to get my career back on track after having a baby. He gets mean when he’s drunk but I am so mad that he’s not really operating at full capacity and things get messed up, wasted, destroyed all the time. Its so frustrating that I am essentially alone every night being the responsible parent looking after our baby. If I go out to get something he passes out on the couch and is so inebriated he doesn’t wake up when our son is screaming as I walk in the door. After a year of this spiraling out of control this weekend I smacked him across the head when he said some really cruel things to me. Things are bad and I don’t know what to do. I totally get the anger and hatred that is building up inside me like the previous person said. I look at him with absolute disgust whenever I see him wobble in the door. Reading all these comments it looks like the only answer you give is to leave. That’s basically it. There is no other solution offered. All the advice seems to be black or white.

  • Janet

    My husband is a highly functioning alcoholic. He works hard around the house and work. The alcohol does affect his quality of work and has caused me to be embarrassed many times. He went through treatment for cancer due to his drinking and smoking. Then, he went right back to both. I have been to a few al-anon meetings and felt like it was just a gripe session.
    The biggest problem I have is that we adopted a 10 yr old boy last year. He sobered up and things started out pretty well. Our son adores him and thinks my husband can do no wrong. I am usually the one that is the problem because I get angry over his drinking and irresponsibility. Our son only sees that they play and have more fun when Dad is drinking. This little boy has never had any stability in his life. He has been in foster care his whole life. He finally has parents and a home, family, pets and consistency.
    I am the one who is always mad, crying or causing turmoil. We both drank when we met, but I quit and he drinks a lot more. He has been through detox and does well for a while. Our family and marriage was FANTASTIC when he was sober. I don’t really like him when he drinks because he becomes “simple”. He slurs words, bleary eyed, can’t think straight and neglects eating, locking the door or being a responsible parent. He is never abusive, just the life of the party and the fun parent. He forgets everything to have a good time. Our son thinks that is okay.
    I am a strong woman and would have no problem leaving and being on my own. But, our son would want to be with him over me. He has a problem attaching to women due to his past and I would lose both the husband and the son. Our son thinks my husband can do no wrong. Even when he screws up, our son defends him. So, how do I walk away from a child that I have waited my whole life for? How do I break up a family that has just come together? I can’t put this child back into the turmoil he has had his whole life. I also can’t keep myself out of depression and anger bouts.
    I am thinking of getting some counseling for myself. That won’t fix my husbands drinking problem or my distrust and dislike of him. I just want to smile and not be mad or depressed.

  • Alicia

    I have been married for almost 7 years. My husband definatly has an alcohol problem. The first 2 years of our marriage was great, but the past 5 have been an endless roller coaster ride. He is self employed so he works (so called) all day. He’ll come home late with a half a case of beer , then stay up and drink. We have 2 young children in which he rarely has anything to with. I barely see him but when I do he is drinking. I mainly want to just get it aired out in hopes to maybe feel better.
    He has admitted before he has a problem but will do nothing to seek help. He is selfish and thinks only of himself. I’m very tired of living like this because it’s not living it’s barely surviving. I’m a homemaker and take care of everything involving our 2 young children. I manage everything now and it’s tiring now that I can’t count on him. I feel abandoned, betrayed, and sickened by the sheer thought of him. The only time he wants something from me is when he gets in the mood and tries to wake me up at 3 in the morning. Then after I refuse him he becomes verbally abusive. I hate going to sleep for the fear of him coming in and starting his tantrum. I have stopped trying to stop him because the last time I tried he started drinking during the day to try and hide it from me. I don’t want me or the children around him anymore but I also feel stuck financially. I dont know what to do or maybe I’m too scared to admit what I have to do.

  • Anna

    I am finding this to be a very interesting topic. I believe my husband to be a highly functioning alcoholic but it is so hard to be sure what the difference is between excessive drinking and true alcoholism. I first noticed a problem maybe 15 years ago or so. I found a bottle of liquor hidden among clothes in the basement where he spent time on the computer. Then I found another and another.. Upon confrontation I would get silly answers, such as “It is convenient to have the bottle there”. My husband is very successful at his job but over the years he has lost interest in most things. He avoids contact with me. Comes home late and usually intoxicated, but not falling on his face per se. He never calls. Yet on special occasions he gives me beautiful gifts and lovely cards explaining his love for me. They have lost their impact.. Last week I fished out seven bottles of hard liquor from his workshop. Some hidden in the joists of the ceiling. He refuses to talk about anything of significance. This has led to many resentments and a lot of silence. He does not even acknowledge the bottles. He is simply silent, does not make eye contact. Occasionally he throws a nasty insult my way or storms out of the house. Sometimes for a couple of days.. refusing to pick up his phone. He is withdrawn by nature but in the last few years the silence has become painful. It has been hard for me to accept or even fully acknowledge all this for I have been suffering from panic disorder and agoraphobia for many years now, making me both scared and dependent. However, I am at a point where I no longer wish to live in misery and silence. I suggested my husband leave the house. He did, last Saturday. It makes me very sad. Although I know we can’t go on like this I struggle with both fear and the knowledge of where to go from here. Is there a way I can help this man, the father of my children.. Am I wrong??? IS this behavior, the behavior of an alcoholic?? It has been so many years and so much denial that certainty is difficult and with my limited mobility due to agoraphobia, answers are hard to obtain.

  • Julie

    I know everyone has a long story to write, but i just need a few moments. My husband had 2 dui’s before we married and quit drinking completely. We married and he started drinking with friends again. It has been over 8 years now. A couple times I have given the stop drinking or else ultimatum. That lasted for a brief bit both times. He knows he has a problem and he said when his time comes and god is ready for him he ‘will go down to his knees and give himself up.’ I am guessing that means he has no intention of getting help. He drinks 9 – 15 beers a night. ( from the way home from work, 3 in the car, until about 9pm when he passes out on the couch with a can in his hand. I have never let him ruin MY life, but it is really getting bad. 2 kids, 7 and 4, know no different than the way he is. Daddy is always ‘grumpy’ . But now I notice myself being grumpy too. Is leaving the only answer for me? I just don’t know. I have thought about this for the last 6 years.

    Btw, he has a great job and is highly valuable and knowledgeable. He does not drink in bars or stay out. He does all of his drinking at home, in the car on the way home, or with our friends.

    Help me, I am turning into a sad, not fun, grumpy, 31-year-old mommy. And THAT IS NOT ME.
    THANK YOU!!
    Julie

  • Hi Julie,

    If you are getting grumpy, take that as a warning from inside of you that something has to change. He admits he’s slowly killing himself. My son was going to stop, by the time he did it was too late. His heart failed at 40. My daughter missed her deadline too and died at 51.

    So be you! Do what you have to do to provide a life without “grump” for you and your children. His life and lifestyle are always his choice. If and when he chooses life over slow death, he will get help to change or he will change his life on his own, as many have done. Right now he has no incentive to change: no matter what you have said, you are still there.

    Best wishes on some tough choices.

  • Amanda

    Hi, I am soon to be 27 in a few weeks I have been with my husband for 5yrs. and we share my two older children, my stepson, and 2 daughters we have together. Needless to say we have all the kids and nephew we raise on top of the five we have. When we met I was a lil’ over 21 and sure going out every now and again and having a good time was great but within months I stopped completely but he kept on. And he has drank more over the years than when we first met and it’s always my fault he drinks to deal with me and my constant complaining, and according to him I have no friends b/c I am a b&tch. I lost a lot of friends yes but I call them good time friends not real friends my two closest friends passed away in the past 4 yrs. I feel like I am at a loss I asked him quit frankly to quite drinking about a month ago and he claims he did well the past week it’s been 2 a night that I know of. Tonight I didn’t think he was drinking at all until he took the dogs out got in his vehicle and pulled out beer to hide in his coat. I confronted him and he acts as though there is not a problem with him having a “couple” of beers. This has led to physical, emotional, mental and verbal abuse when he decides to have a case in one night b/c hey he doesn’t have to work tomorrow. I am physically limited to what I can do b/c I have disc degenerative so lifting and doing too much physical work in one day leaves me to a point of having trouble getting around and even walking up the stairs. I am only 99lbs and he can over power me and when he gets to the point of becoming physically abuse a few times a year I can’t barely even get up to walk for a few days some times a couple of weeks. And I feel like I am alone I don’t have anyone to turn to.

  • Yuko

    My husband and I have been married for almost 30 years, we have 2 children. I didn’t know he is an alcoholic before we get married. He had been sober for a while, but when he started drinking again 11 years ago I was devastated. His father and older borther was an alcoholic too, both of them died years ago.

    I was a big enabler and we argued enough because I didn’t have any knowledge about alcoholism. I finally got help of therapy and Al-Anon about 7 months ago. He is a functional alcoholic and doesn’t want to quit drinking. I thought about divorce but financially it’s impossible since I’ve been a homemaker for a long time.

    He drinks almost everyday so I practice detachment. I know alcoholism is a disease but it’s still diffucult to understand. When I got angry, depressed and discouraged I go to Al-Anon meeting and learn to live again. Because I need serenity.

  • Tracy

    I have been reading your site and am in awe and will be purchasing the book. I love my husband more than life itself. We have 4 kids and my husband and I have very flexible schedules and share most lunches together. It is the part of my day that I love. My husbands mother is a 3 time recoving alcoholic, bipolar and has recovered multiple times from prescription drugs. His father has drank every since I meet him. He lives alone and drinks from 4pm to whenever he goes to bed which is usually in the early morning. My husband holds a good job and attends games and helps at kids practices but drinks heavily on a daily bases. I dread 5:00PM if we have nothing going on. My husband goes thru 1/2 to a gallon a liquor every week. He is extremely stressed all the time. If we go out to dinner he orders doubles or triples. But most of the time he drinks alone at home. I am not a big drinker, never drink at home and may have a drink once a month if we are out to dinner. I know my husband loves me but he has said on binges that he wants a divorce and then next day its always my fault. I sleep in a seperate room to avoid intamcy when he is drinking and that has not worked. Recently my oldest daughter told me to go in the other room when I was in my bed because she did not want to hear arguing when he came to bed and that I know how he gets.

    The next day she asked what was wrong and I said nothing just not feeling good today and she said “see I told you not to sleep there”.

    I have never been one to have alot of friends. I have surrounded my life around my kids, my kids friends parents and my family so I have always kept to myself. I don’t believe in divorce and I truely love my husband more than anything but I am lost and have started feel like I am shutting down and the walls are closing in on me. I am hoping this book works. I know my husband is an alcoholic functioning on most of the time but it has to be lonely in his world. I don’t see how drinking all night alone in your room could be enjoyable. I often tell him that he would chose alcohol over me.

  • Hi Yuko,

    Calling alcohol addiction a disease, which it is not, provides the alcoholic with a life-long excuse to drink.

  • Tiffany

    The information in this article makes perfect sense, be independant so you don’t toil with leaving, I get it. However, I have created and expend more energy into our business, I saved the money for, found, and bought our home, our vehicles, our furniture, our appliances, and so on. My point is, I am independant, I have my own friends (which he LOVES because this is the prefect situation for him to drink “in peace”), I do my own thing. The problem is, we live in a community state, so if I file for divorce, then I will have to pay HIM allimony, and split the profits from the sale of the house with him-and give him a vehicle. So I stay. Feedback?

  • Hi Tracy,

    He’s killing pain of some sort with his drinking, and he’s drinking himself to death. It’s usually a very slow suicide, but not always. If he wants to overcome his alcohol abuse and reclaim his life, there is help. If you want to be happier with your life, there is also help. But you may have to confront your beliefs about divorce. I know from hard experience how tough that can be.

    Best wishes, Tracy.

  • Hi Tiffany,

    What you are doing would be more appropriate at 75 that at 45. Is this the life you want? Some people are happy with a pro forma marriage. Are you? What would you like your life to be?
    As far as the stuff goes, you built it, so you can do it again if you so choose. If you want better, see a good lawyer. Sometimes a settlement can be reached where stuff replaces alimony.

    I’ve had to start from scratch a couple of times. Hard as it was, I’m glad for new chances and new happiness that ensued.

    An aside: Judges are often old men who have worked long and hard…and don’t like deadbeat husbands.

  • I am married to a wonderful man who has a terrible disease. He drinks whiskey on a daily basis. I too have drank but have since stopped. He gets home before I do and is usually drunk when I get home. When he is in this state, he is hard to talk to, deal with etc etc. He becomes the martyr, everything is his fault and he gets mad and irrational and behaves like a child, throwing things down and slamming things. He is now at a point where he thinks I am cheating on him and don’t want him anymore. I am at my witts ends. I don’t know what to do. I love this man more than anything and will not walk away from while he is sickend with this. But I don’t know what to do. When he is not drinking, he is nice as nice can be. A very kind and caring loving man. But the mere smell of alcohol makes him into a mean, wanting the world to end man. He is not physical other than the words he uses. I have contacted my church but have not yet gone that route. I would love to go to Al-Anon meetings but do not know how to do so without him knmowing. He would go through the roof if he found out. Is there any help for me out there? Where does one start to find answers? Please help! I love my husband and want to save my marriage.
    Thank you so much in advance!

  • Hi Chris,

    Get this: his alcohol abuse/alcoholism is not a disease. Calling it a disease provides a very convenient excuse to drink. And if he believes he has a disease, the he probably also believes recovery is hopeless. However, alcohol abuse does a lot of damage and can lead to disease, like cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure and another few dozen “diseases.” Given what happens when he drinks even a little, I have no doubt there is brain damage. However, the brain tends to heal itself after the drinking stops. He’s killing himself, so the question I have about him is does he really want to die, or does he just want out of the marriage? If he knew there was hope, would he clean up? Here’s a quiz about rehab options if he’s interested in educating himself.

    Eileen and I have been married over 30 years, and we really care about our marriage, so I understand your commitment to your marriage. But you have to look after yourself in a marriage that’s working or one that’s not. If going to Alanon is looking after yourself, you do it regardless of his reaction. You share what’s going on with your friends too, because it’s your life. No family secrets! If you want individual professional help check this out.

  • Chris

    I guess I am confused now. I have always been told that alcoholism is a disease. I thought we were suppose to help those that had it. I am working on myself and doing what I need to do but I do not want to alienate my husband in the process. He is a great man with a heart of gold, when he is sober. Unfortunately he is only sober when he is at work. What does one do? This is new to me as I have recently stopped drinking and finally woke up. I thank you for any and all advice.

    Sincerely,
    Chris

  • Dear Chris,

    I can understand your confusion, because alcohol addiction has been promoted as a disease by AA (not by the medical profession) for so long. I suggest you inform yourself by getting and reading my book. There’s a lot in it about alcoholism, as well as a lot for the partner living with it. Unless your husband is seriously into control, how could it alienate him for you to look after yourself? Perhaps if you start looking after yourself, he may too.

    Best wishes,

    Neill

  • Laura

    Ive been married to Pat for 25yrs and he is not abusive or mean he is very friendly. He will drink about a 6 pk a night and once he opens one beer he does not know how to stop. He just keeps drinking til he falls asleep. About two years ago he went to a bar and I had a biopsy done on a lump in my breast and two night later my husband went to a bar and got so drunk he did not come home til the next day, I found out he stayed at a girls house because he could not drive home. Still he would not tell me why he could not call me to pick him up from the bar. I talked to her and she said she was doing him a favor and not letting in drive home drunk. But she seemed so angry at him about something but would not say. So I still don’t know what happen that night.

    I am still with my husband and he does not go to bars, but still is drinking at home and I’m tired of the drinking and the loneliness I feel in our home and how my husband seems to have shut his feelings off towards me. I’m am hurting real bad and don’t know what to do anymore with this problem. The talking does not work any more. What do you suggest?

  • Hi Laura,

    The deep loneliness is the most frequent complaint from women with alcoholic husbands. It’s worse than being alone and single. He’s probably not happy either, and he may be secretly wishing you would leave him. But the alcoholic is never the one to make a move. If he left you, he would have no one to blame for ending the marriage. And giving up victim-hood is unthinkable for most alcoholics, even the nice ones.

    So it’s up to you to stir the pot. Confront him. Tell him what you’re missing. Give him some incentive to change. (He has none now.) If there are changes, great! If not, it will be up to you to make a change.

  • Barb

    I have a few issues with my husband’s drinking, but because I, too, enjoy alcohol I feel like a hypocrite in discussing how much he drinks. It has come to the point that the more he drinks the less I drink. I am disturbed when he has his first drink at nine in the morning, but his rational is that he only drinks wine – never liquor! This man is a retired university professor whose hands shake in the morning before he takes his glass of wine. And, of course, he drinks all day. But, again, he argues that it is not hard liquor and the Europeans drink wine all day too.
    I have given up drinking for Lent – he was going to give it up but changed his mind.

  • Hi Barb,

    My own alcoholism was at its peak during my university professoring days, so I know how much we academics could drink. I’ll make a couple of points.

    First, it’s irrelevant what form the alcohol is in–beer, wine, or spirits.

    Secondly, he right: the french do drink a lot of wine. However, France has the highest rare of cirrhosis of the liver in the world.

    Thirdly, yes you both drink, but he abuses alcohol and you don’t. You drive a car sanely, but would you feel like a hypocrite for complaining about someone else’s reckless driving? I doubt it.

    Fourth, if you want to drink less, go ahead, but don’t do it for him. That’s letting yourself get hooked into his out-of-control alcohol abuse. It will accomplish nothing good…and you could become resentful.

    Wow! I had more to say than I thought I had.

    Best wishes, Barb.

  • Laura

    Hi, I am glad I found this post. I am a 26 year old mother of one boy (5). My husband who is 30 drinks and average of 28 beers on the weekends, and 14 beers a night during the week. He works as a roofer, but the odd day he doesn’t drink. He’s very quiet and un-loving. I don’t know what to do anymore..my son is always asking why “daddy is sick”? this hurts me..and I have left before, but always come back. We both come from alcoholic families..his father died at 47 from drinking. He has never been the same since that day. He tells me hes going to die young just like his father, how can I help him? He’s so young..I don’t want my son to be without his father. What are the best steps to take? I left him for a year once, and he still drank.
    Please Help! I feel so alone.

  • My heart goes out to you Laura. One way of looking at what he is doing is he is committing suicide. A young dad, working, loving wife…there’s no present reason for him to be so unhappy. With professional help he can deal with his demons from the past and live a happy life. but that’s his choice. Meanwhile you have to look after yourself and your son. If your husband takes action to turn his life around, great! If he doesn’t, then you’ll need to leave him, unless you want your son to copy his dad the way your husband is copying his.

  • MotherofTwo

    My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We have an 8 year old and a two year old. I don’t drink nor do I do any drugs. My husband suffers from degenerative disc disease in his back. Something inherited form his dad. Anyhow, 2 year after we were married, he hurt himself at work and got unemployment for about a year. We separated. We were having lots of problems at this point already but we decided to stick with it. I had been working 2 jobs for most of the time we are married. He had a tubing accident while we were separated and he tore his ACL and had knee surgery. He stayed at his mom’s house for the whole duration. Anytime I called him or came by to see him, he was drunk or drinking. I just figured he was in pain and that was helping him so I didn’t think much of it.

    I moved to an apartment with my daughter and he eventually moved in with us. He drank a lot. He was out of work and he was majorly depressed. He was on pain meds for his back and was not taking those properly at all. I came home one day and he was trying to commit suicide in the bath tub. My daughter was home from school already and I didn’t know what to do. I called his mother and we admitted him for detox. He was in the facility for 1 week. It did nothing unfortunately because he still drank. He started hiding it in the house, because I told him it was not allowed. He finally got a job and probably worked for 6 months before he hurt his back on the job. He collected workman’s comp for a good while then got a settlement. He was again still drinking, hiding, sneaking around. He started stealing out of the bank account large sums of money and would lie about it.

    One day, he picked up my daughter from school and there was an accident. I had to go pick her up because he was drunk, high, and non-functioning from combinations of who knows what. DDS was involved in our lives for the next year because when he was tested… he was positive for cocaine also. I was completely overwhelmed.. I didn’t think my family would ever have such problems. Just afterward I had my 2nd daughter. He stayed in our home while going through treatment and he watched the girls for me when I worked… supervised only. He was in treatment and was able to go to another facility for drug rehab for a month. He came home and was “sober and clean” for a couple months. DDS ran from Jan -Jan. and the minute his monitoring was lifted.. he went back to doing it again. I kicked him out of the house and he’s been living at his mothers for the last year. We fight like cats and dogs… I cannot trust him but I need a sitter for my girls. I work long hours to make sure everyone is alright. He does not work now and hasn’t for probably the last 3 years. No income at all. He’s trying to get disability but it”ll probably be a while before he can. He’s only 32 and he’ll be rejected. He was supposedly sober for the last year, but in November he was drunk on the cruise we took, and then I found out in Dec when he came home for a week, he was still drinking and in Jan when he wanted to come home again. I’m pretty sure he’s still drinking.

    I’ve been looking at my options on divorce and what to do with my home. I have a big double wide on his parents land and just want to leave it. But he can’t afford it so I’m stuck. I make good money and I could just move and find another house. I feel like I’ve been through enough and I’ve tried so hard that I don’t think I have anything left. I want him to be OK, but I want to be happy too. He comes home from fishing trips drunk and picks fights. The girls have to go through all the yelling and fighting. They don’t deserve that. I told him that he could have the house but he has no money. What do you suggest.???

  • Dear MotherofTwo,

    You have certainly gone the extra mile, and you’re right, you and your daughters have a right to be happy. What you have been modeling while together or when fighting is stay together no matter what. If that’s not what you want, and I’m sure it isn’t, then you’ll have to move on. Of course you want him to be OK, but staying with him isn’t helping. You’ve certainly put that to the test.

    You may have to walk away from the double wide on his parents’ land, since you won’t be able to sell it. Perhaps he and his parents can handle it. Babysitters can be found and they cost money. Don’t expose your kids to any more abuse than necessary. It’s an adult matter, not something the children should have to suffer through.

    On your own see a lawyer, because you need to make the split with a legal agreement so he can’t come back on you later, demanding support, or run up a huge debt while you are jointly responsible. You might believe he would never do that, but there is no predicting what a future partner might push him to do.

    Then as you move forward, get some professional help in unburdening yourself of the inevitable shame and regret.

    Best wishes for a new beginning.

  • Rachel

    When I met my husband 6 1/2 years ago…I didn’t see any problems with his drinking…as I was participating in it as well. When we started living together is when I noticed the real issue. We have now been married for almost 4 years…and things are rapidly deteriorating.

    My husband will be graduating from college (at the age of 28) in one month with a degree in Marketing. He is by far one of the friendliest people you will meet…and unless you are very close to us, you would never be able to tell there is a problem. My husband has always drank every night from the time he got home until bed…but recently he has switched from mainly drinking beer to drinking massive quantities of liquor. (750mL bottles in about 12 hours total). He knows hes an alcoholic, but believes there really is no problem since he continues to go to school (maintaining a 4.0 GPA) and works 2 jobs as well. The problem is…when my husband drinks, he becomes incredibly mean. There have only been a few instances in which he became physical (an never towards me or our 2 daughters, but rather things like punching the wall, etc). His typical MO is saying incredibly hateful things to me.

    I actually came on this site because this evening because of a fairly intense argument we had in which he LAUGHED at my hurt feelings and belittled the situation. Anytime I try to share anything with him that is less than positive…he becomes incredibly defensive and starts naming all the things he DOES do. I thought the conversation was over and done with…until he decided he was “running up to get cigarettes, I will be right back…I love you!!”. Its now been 5 hours, and the only contact I have had with him was after he ignored multiple text messages and phone calls from me (being worried about him), to tell me that he had some “thinking to do” and that it “was none of my business”. He then told me he would be home later.

    I love my husband and he is wonderful with our girls…but I don’t know when enough is enough. I would definitely agree that I have become an enabler…and readily admit I am co-dependent…but I refuse to leave my husband….I believe in the vows I took which said “In sickness and in Health”….Do I need to just consign myself to the fact that I can either A) Leave him…or B) “there is truly hope that this marriage can work and he can get the help he needs”?

  • Hi Rachel,

    There is always hope that he will decide he wants to leave the alcoholism behind and get the help he needs. His alcoholism isn’t OK. He may be thriving in work and studies, but he’s ruining his marriage and he’s slowly committing suicide, health-wise. Being OK in only one of the three big areas of life just doesn’t cut it. Whether or or he decides to deal with it before your marriage deteriorates beyond the point of no return is the question, and you have no control over that. “Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman’s Survival Guide” could help you with hanging in there without making things worse while trying to help. It is so sad to see good men wait until they’ve lost their families before they clean up.

    There’s another problem. Most of the so-called help out there begins with the assumption that he can’t recover from his alcoholism, but will have to be in recovery for life. That popular belief is simply wrong. I hope he never buys into it. I was in my mid thirties when I left it behind, and I was drinking at about the same volume as your husband (or a little more). I’d have been dead years ago if I had continued. Check out http://overcomealcoholismpermanently.com

  • Jessie

    I’ve only been married to my husband for six months. He drinks 6 beers a night without fail. I asked him before we got married if it was a phase or if he planned to always drink. He said it was a phase and now every time I bring it up he says he’s working on it, but he isn’t. I’m the only one who knows he drinks so much. I’m embarrassed that our recycling bin is full of beer cans, and I hate the fact that he is in essence killing himself.

    I need to know what I should do at this point. I do maintain my own life, complete with friends, family, work and social events, and he does work, he bought our house, and do things around the house. It’s as if the alcohol is just another drink to him, like Gatorade. He started drinking in order to sleep after his leg was broken in a car accident and he never stopped. I don’t want to leave him, but at the same time I don’t know that I want to have children with him if he isn’t going to be able to help 50/50 in all that it entails. I truly don’t know what to do, if I admit to anyone else that he is an alcoholic they will judge me and him, but I’m not stupid, just in love, and he isn’t your typical drunk. The main reason why I want him to quit is for his health, he isn’t mean or hurtful or even horrible to be around, he’s just going to let his liver rot slowly. What do I do?

  • Hello Jessie,

    Your quite right to be worried. He is heading down a dangerous path. I have lost two adult children to liver disease related to alcohol. It’s a slow, and sometimes not-so-slow, suicide. If you stay together, you could be in for a lot of heartache, but don’t give up hope just yet.

    Do maintain your own life and don’t get pregnant. However, there’s something you should not be doing. Don’t keep his drinking a secret. The “family secret” is one of the things that helps to maintain an alcohol addiction. Be open with your friends, family, doctor about your concerns. He may not like it, but you have a life and you can talk with your friends about anything you want. That way you are not enabling his alcohol abuse, and his chances of choosing to leave it behind are increased. You might find the book helpful.

  • Shannon

    Im 21 yrs old, have two beautiful baby’s (aged 2yrs and 6 weeks) and I’m meant to be getting married to my boyfriend of 6 and a half yrs in march 2011. He has lied his way out of a few serious drinking issues before (yes i believed him) and i have caught him tipsy/drunk while at work every now and then, but he always just said he was having ‘a bad day’ and he wouldn’t do it again. About 6 months ago our relationship just died.. There was no fun and i felt he didn’t want me anymore (i was 6mths pregnant).

    Then the other night he finally confessed to having a drinking problem. He explained the amount, how often and how he felt about his drinking. I was gob smacked! He says he is ready to give up and he doesn’t want to keep going down this road because he hates that he has lied and is scared to loose the kids and myself. but he is too embarrassed to see someone.

    I want to help him but i don’t know how? i would love any advice to help him and try and keep my small young family together and safe.

  • Hi Shannon,

    It’s not promising that he won’t get help, but it is possible that he could leave alcohol behind without help. I know because I’m one of the 5% who manage to do it without help. It is highly likely that he won’t be able to drink at all without slipping back into the old pattern.

    The best you can do for your family is detach emotionally from his problem. If he deals with it, great. If he continues on the drinking, minimizing, lying, hiding path, then without visible emotion, take your children and leave.

  • Marie

    Hello Dr. Neill,
    I have been with my husband for 9 years, three years married and six years living together. Since the day we met he’s always loved to drink beer. He drinks only on the weekends, during the week his behavior is melancholic and rude. He exercises regularly to try to balance out his moodiness, and most of the time it does work. He has a bad temper and tends to throw fits every now and then, all of this is non-violent.

    Recently, I caught him browsing through dating sites and I really didn’t confront him. I just mentioned to him that I had a suspicion of him browsing sites that he shouldn’t and he totally denied it. Ever since we had that incident he’s been trying to change. I feel soo horrible, I have to put up with his moods and now this extra stress. What should I do Dr. Neill? Please I need your help!

  • Hi Marie,

    You’re dealing with a tough one. You can’t change him; only he can do that. What I said to Shannon applies to you too:

      “The best you can do … is detach emotionally from his problem. If he deals with it, great. If he continues on the drinking, minimizing, lying, hiding path, then without visible emotion… leave. If you decide to take that path, let him know what you are considering, but tell him without emotion. If you show any emotion, that’s a hook that gives him something to argue about.”

    You are navigating through a major transition: you are transitioning into a newer, better marriage with your husband or into a single lifestyle again.

    Best wishes in your transition.

  • Carrie

    Dr. Neill Neill,

    How do you detach without emotion from someone you have loved for a long time?

    Carrie

  • Hi Carrie,

    It’s difficult. Of course, you do have emotion, but showing it to him keeps the “argument” alive. Privately, you may cry your eyes out. That’s your grief over loss.

    Detachment is not making another’s problem your own, loving another without taking on their issues. Every doctor, therapist, helper, healer and pastor has to learn how to detach in order to avoid burning out. Parents have to learn to detach.

  • Grace

    Dear Dr. Neill:

    I just wanted to thank you. I finally hit my own bottom a week ago with regard to my husband of 15 years who has been a functioning alcoholic over the past 10 years. I found this blog post and read it and the comments over and over. I also got support from Al-Anon. I realized what I must do to save myself and our children from being pulled into the abyss with him. I gave him an ultimatum, which he ignored (after all, he doesn’t have a problem!). Today I asked him to leave.

    We have a lot of live for, and a lot of good still in our lives. I will attend Al-Anon this week and we both will continue in marriage counseling, albeit individually. Thank you again.

  • Sumitra

    Hello

    I am 36 year old Indian who has been married for the last 2.5 years. My husband loves the pub and I mean truly LOVES the pub. He makes plans to go out every week and that’s the way he relaxes. This weekend, he went out on Thursday night, Friday night and Sunday night. Each time, its a 12 hour or more bender. I hate weekends, bank holidays and holidays in general as that is all he ever wants to do. Drink, Drink and more Drink…

    I have argued, fought, cried, spoken nicely, ignored…but he always says he will change and it never happens. I would love to have kids and a stable life but this is what I am stuck with. I have a good job and my father died cos he drank too much. I have become a nervous wreck and am not happy at all.

    I feel cheated and unhappy. Why do I have to go through his rambling , his bad behaviour and spend hours on my own? I don’t have many friends and even tried alcoholics anonymous for the partners but found it depressing. I am contemplating leaving him before its too late and before my life becomes a complete mess. Am I right in doing so?

  • Sumitra,

    There is no right or wrong; you have to decide what’s best for you. However, what is clear is that you never agreed to this kind of life. He is not fulfilling his side. You feel cheated because you are cheated, and no one deserves that. Look after yourself; his mistress is the pub.

  • Julie

    Hello,

    I first read your blog in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago, not being able to sleep after a particularly bad night. I’m trying to figure out what to do and hope someone on here may help.

    I married a guy I’ve had a crush on since age 13. He was my first love and getting re-connected with him 20 years later was a dream come true I thought. In 2007, I went through a divorce where my husband started cheating while pregnant and I found out about the affair after about a year and a half. I don’t think I was ready to date in late 2009, but he swept me off my feet and I didn’t have my guard up. I knew he drank. I will have a glass of wine if we go out for dinner or get buzzed every once in a while. I didn’t figure out how much he was drinking until the summer of 2010 when I started finding shot bottles everywhere. I have since figured out that he drinks usually two shot bottles in the evening or earlier and follows that by about a six pack as well as lorazapam, (to sleep).

    A couple of months in to our marriage I got pregnant as planned. I have a daughter who is a toddler as well. We got married in December and by March, we were going through episodes where he was yelling at me and getting really angry about whatever. We had plans to buy property so that we could have animals. I have an excellent career and earn a good income, however was weighted down by two mortgages, taxes, etc. I expected that he would help financially as I thought he would find a job and was collecting unemployment.

    I cannot count the number of times he has yelled at me that I bait and switched him to get him to move, promising things and then backing out. What he says I promised often conflicts with other things he said I promised. While I was pregnant he would apologize for, “overreacting” but then blame my hormones for our problems. My head over the last year and a half has gotten so screwed up. I have basically accepted the behavior of him getting drunk every night; being yelled at and then blamed for it; that I am not doing enough even though I work 10 and 12 hour days with a toddler and infant and pay the bills while he wakes up around 11. I walk on pins and needles at home. I have no where that I can go to get peace. Finally, after another episode where it was my daughter getting lectured meanly about how it was her fault that his untrained dog took her cheese and having her crying in bed and then wetting the bed that night which has not ever happened, I guess I am waking up. I read this blog that night and could not believe that what I was going through was not my fault. I am not perfect and need to figure out what is wrong with me to be in two failed relationships like this. But I know things cannot continue they way they are. I am not myself anymore and am not the mom I need to be. I feel so beaten down and so messed up in the head and feel so guilty. I don’t want to ruin his life or take away his infant from him, but I and my kids cannot be in this life.

    Since that night he, as usual, has possibly found work (which has happened before but then he is either stressed or finds something wrong with the work) and signed his dog up for training. There is no room for me to be upset or ever talk to him about anything as I am completely cowed for lack of a better word. In his mind, I am the problem and if I try to say anything I am, “playing the victim.” He is really really charming. His cousin, who is a very good friend, explained to me that his mom does know he is an alcoholic. But no one in our social group I don’t think would believe what goes on at home.

    I have come to the place where I just cannot stand him anymore. But then I feel guilty and think I should be a supportive wife. I want out, but know I will be hated. I don’t care anymore. I just don’t know how to do this. I’m not worried financially, which I know I am so lucky on. He has not paid a bill since moving in and I have not combined any property. I am worried about the baby being in his care as he is not capable after about 8 of dealing with any sort of emergency.

    I don’t know how to go about the next step. He acts like everything is ok. I’m afraid of his anger. I know he will say I am making these problems. Last summer things got really really bad and he cried and said he understood if I asked him to leave and I so wish I would have ended things at that point. Things only get more complicated as time goes on. What do I do?

    Julie

  • Ann

    My husband and I have been married for 31 years and we have one daughter who is 29 who is married and lives 3 hrs away. Now that it is just me and my husband, I was really looking forward to re-establishing our relationship. I think he is just happy with the way things are. He is functioning and always brings home a paycheck. He is on blood pressure medicine and drinks ice beer (always 16oz cans) and this stuff called Steel Reserve – High Gravity Lager (24oz cans). He hides his cans so I have no idea how much he drinks per day but I do notice a marked change in his personality and slurring on a daily basis.

    Mentally, he is not there. I used to have conversations with but once I realized that he doesn’t remember any of our conversations, I quit talking to him. I am the one to make any household decision since I am the responsible and sober. I have been attending Alanon meetings for the past 2 years and have discovered the detachment process and I have implemented that in my life with him. Because I have detached…I basically feel we are just roommates. We sleep in separate bedrooms due to his grinding of teeth on heavy drinking nites, we have no social life or friends because all of my girlfriends are like me and occasionally have a drink or don’t drink and he claims they are boring and not fun. All of his friends are either divorced or single and have nothing going for them.

    I am 52 years old and was cut off from having sex at age 40, he claims its because of his high blood pressure meds and how they affect him. I think it’s funny that he blames it on the meds as everything I have read says you should limit your alcohol consumption if you are on these meds…and he does not. I am bitter and angry and have a fear of being 70 years old and looking over my life and regretting not getting out. I am pro-marriage 100% and never wanted to be divorced but every nite it’s the same thing..slurred talking, no brain waves and basically…no husband, relationship or companionship. It has come down to our daughter and her husband talking to me about his slurring and how gross it is. My daughter does not want to call home or come home anymore because he is always slurring. They want to see me but don’t want to see him. What can you tell me about this Steel Reserve that he drinks. I think he drinks about 4 (24oz) cans of this per nite plus 2 (16oz) ice beers. He says he doesn’t drink that much and it’s the blood pressure meds mixed with the alcohol that is making him slurr.

  • Dear Ann,

    I’m very pro-marriage too. Eileen and I are still learning new things about each other and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company after 30+ years. But we’ve both been divorced, so we both know the difference between a marriage and a…call an empty marriage whatever you want.

    You do not describe a marriage when you talk about you and your husband. It sounds like you separated years ago, but neglected to do the paperwork. And now you are losing connection with your daughter and future grand children…and for what?

    You are facing some tough choices.

  • Loren

    my husband is a great husband and father who has a really great job and provides for his family very well. The downside is that he uses alcohol and the television to drown out his feelings and thoughts. We have 3 small children and when anything of life occurs then he runs to his bottle. He drinks 1.75 Liters of Rum a week, along with beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages.
    he is not physical but he is verbally and mentally abusive and blames myself and the kids for his drinking. making comments like “I am going to drink myself to death”
    I am just now studying his alcholic controlling personality so any advice would be helpful. he has finally won and has permitted me to no longer communicate with my friends and I am no longer allowed to go to church or serve the Lord there.

  • Dear Julie,

    You are not “playing the victim;” the alcoholic is the eternal victim. Every time he blames you, anyone else or anything else for his troubles, he is playing the victim. He won’t end the relationship because victims don’t make things happen; they see life as something that happens to them. But then they manipulate and lie like crazy make things happen to them the way they want.

    What it all comes down to, Julie, is that if you want to get out of this beaten down, messed up guilty feeling all the time, it is you who will have to take action. You’ve already taken the next step: you told your story here. Talk to a lawyer and discuss with the lawyer what you should discuss with your husband and what you should keep private. Do not tell your husband you are going to see a lawyer. You cannot know in advance the details of how your separation and divorce will play out. Your responsibility is to know what you want, not how. Find a relationship professional you can rely on and use his or her mentoring through the process. That could save a lot of pain. I could help you with that; you can call me to discuss if you wish.

    We speak of alcoholics as “being in denial,” but their spouses are often in denial too. They may be in denial about the depths of their despair and loneliness, or about the risks to their children’s development if they stay. Quoting the famous C. N. Parkinson, “Delay is the deadliest form of denial.”

    Neill

  • Hi Loren,

    You need to hear something rather unpleasant: a “great husband and father” does not verbally and mentally abuse his wife, blame his wife and children for his troubles, bully his wife into isolation from her friends and her religious practices and slowly commit suicide. It sounds like about all he gives is money, and he can do that whether he’s with you or not. You need some solid marriage counseling. It may well turn out that he really does not want to be in the marriage. Then you’ll need legal counsel.

    You deserve a life where you can hold your head up, nurture and be nurtured by your support network in and out of your church, be free to raise any subject, and assure that your children have good adult models as you raise them. Do what you have to make things change; you and your children deserve better.

  • lola

    I know my husband is a functional alcolholic, I’ve known it since we met. I was young, 23 and he is 8 years older when we met. He has always managed to deny a drinking problem, and always hides beer, and hard liquor. Recently we opened a business, and the stress has been catching up to him. After 6 short months, he was diagnosed with bell’s palsy, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. He’s taking pills for these diseases, but is drinking more since there is probably no one to tell him not too at work. Often times he comes home withdrawn, depressed, moody, easily agitated by everything. He doesn’t want to talk or deal with anything. When i ask him what’s wrong he begins blaming me for things that have stressed him. Including decisions we’ve made together that didn’t work out. He really hates me, and disrespectful when i have something to say. We havn’t been able to have sex in months. I have always supported him, emotionally, and contributed financially to our marriage. He is no longer appreciating anything i do. I am ready to move on. I fear he can’t handle stress as much… because he’s drinking more. I know he won’t accept help, because he doesn’t think he has a problem. What now?

  • Lola,

    You have answered the “what now” quite clearly. It’s sad when a man, or woman, won’t face up to an alcohol problem as long as there’s someone else there to blame for his behavior and moods, in this case, you. There is no guarantee that he will deal with it when you are gone, but he certainly isn’t dealing with it while you are there.

  • Debi

    I’ve been married to my husband for 11 years. We were high school sweethearts and I married him knowing he drank too much. I didn’t really think he was an alcoholic until we were a few years into our marriage. I was young and could not understand how someone could not control their drinking. I thought alcoholism was just a way to justify why someone drinks. 3 DUIs, a couple of arrests, and a million arguments later I realized that he IS an alcoholic. I read as much as I could on the subject and felt a kinship to all the women who have stories that are similar to mine. I have two children and I know it affects them. My husband wouldn’t admit he was an alcoholic at first. In the beginning he would drink and drink and then drink some more. I would fight with him for years and it didn’t help. Then I started ignoring him but he would not allow that. He would follow me into rooms and be confrontational (not abusive he just wouldn’t leave me alone). If I wanted to get away I would have to go to a hotel. He stops drinking for long stretches. He has went a year without drinking but it always ends the same. He begins to drink again, slowly and then it gets progressively worse. The last time he started drinking again he ended up wrecking a work truck and getting arrested. He was lucky to keep his job. I thought this would be his wake-up call.

    It’s been about 8 months since the DUI and he has started drinking again. He was completely denying it but I can tell. It was on the 4th occasion I noticed it (at my sons soccer party) that he admitted to drinking but he said it was only one time. He still won’t admit that its been more than once. Lately he tries to blame me without blaming me, if that makes sense. He will try and change the subject and bring something up that he feels I did wrong. When I call him on this he claims that’s not what he is doing, then accuses me of raising my voice so the kids can hear. The kids already know because he nit picks at my daughter when he drinks and forgets and confuses things. I used to tell him I’m going to leave all the time but now I don’t.

    I know not to threaten unless I’m willing to go through with the threat. I’m afraid to leave. I feel horrible, weak and like a bad mother for staying. Like many of these women, I am financially dependent on my husband. I work but he makes much more than me and I’m afraid if I leave he will lose his job. I can’t afford to take care of my children on my own and I can’t afford to stay in the house we own. I told him last night that he is slowly killing himself and pushing his family away but he just told me I was hurting his feelings and that I was being horrible to him. He said, all he does is work his butt off all day. I know one day I will leave but I just wish I was strong enough to do it now. He makes me question the way I feel even though I know I’m right.

  • Hi Debi,
    You may be thinking you aren’t strong enough because you think you have to figured out the “how” details before you do anything. Not so. All you need to start with is knowing that you want to make a move. I can tell by your insights you have the strength. Your first step will be to find an appropriate lawyer and follow her advice on the details. Your children can’t do this; it’s up to you.

    Your right, he might lose his job after you separate, leaving you in financial difficulty until he gets another job. But it could be worse: he could lose his job while you’re still together, leaving you to support him as well. Or worse still, he could drink, drive, get in an accident and become a disabled alcoholic, dependent on you for everything.

    You are on a difficult journey. Best wishes.

  • Angie

    Dear Dr Neill,

    I married a “functioning alcoholic” who had been clean for 5 years and like many others on here I did not know the depth of his prior addiction, only that his first marriage had broken down and that he blamed his ex. He has three grown up sons with her, none of whom have a brilliant father/son relationship with my husband. When we married my daughter from previous marriage was only 12 and came to live with us. He began drinking “socially” with me before the marriage then afterwards he began sneaking around, hiding the alcohol and slowly self-destructing.

    Our marriage is in ruins; he gives me no money, is mean to me and my daughter, provides his own adult children (one working in a high paid profession and the other studying for the same high paid profession) with lots of money for holidays abroad and other things; he gives the younger one £150 a month to spend on himself; I do not grudge the boys anything, but when it comes down to our own house having a large mortgage, no food in the cupboards and I can’t afford to buy myself clothing for work (I am a secretary and need to look decent for my job) then the resentment and anger has kicked in and the marriage is over. For 2 and a half years we have slept in separate rooms and lived separate lives, me with my friends and him isolated drinking in the bedroom.

    He has gone through 1 in-patient detox, 1 professionally supervised home detox, and as many attempts at detoxing himself with meds from the Doctor that I can count.

    I have seen a lawyer and we are now going through the separation process, but he has manipulated my “settlement” to his own advantage by controlling me with money worries so that I eventually gave in to much less than I was entitled by law. Up until now I am still waiting for the money to be paid over because until then I have no money for a deposit on a flat for myself and our family pet (daughter going to Uni soon). He argues over everything possible, eats no food in the house unless I have paid for it and cooked it; eats at work so that he doesn’t have to buy food for the house and expects me to support my daughter and myself from my much smaller salary than his.

    I have had counselling and I have also studied to become an addictions counsellor myself over the last 3 years. I try very hard not to enable his actions and I care only for the person he is when he is sober which is usually Monday to Friday in order to do his job. However he never shows me any affection and seems only indifferent to me. I fell “in love” with one of his therapists but realize now this was only transference because the guy was being kind to me and basically telling me to “get him out of your life” for my own sake I now know to be the case and not because he was interested in me in any other way; I feel my attraction to the therapist was purely because I was too young to be trapped in a loveless marriage and he was able to tell me that relationships can only work if BOTH parties make the effort and to his mind should be founded in love. I am still here, living the same emotional non-addicted life with a very addicted person who does not want to change.

    I hate the thought of him trying to end his life in this way because I am a born carer and always put others before myself, but I don’t think I’m co-dependent any more now do you? If I was it was something I had never heard of before and had no idea what it was until I read Melody Beattie’s books and laughed my head off when I saw myself and of course my husband, who is also extremely co-dependent and realized that was his problem with him and his ex-wife who was also heavily addicted to both his money (still looking for aliment after divorce) and his drinking problem….HELP! I now know I need to run for it as soon as I get my long awaited settlement..Thank you for listening to my rant.

  • Cindy

    I feel while reading each person’s experience, that I’m reading my own.

    Everyone who hasn’t been in our home thinks I’m so lucky for having such a charming husband and I should count my blessings for having a man that is always home and loves his family. My insides twist and I feel like SHAKING these people. I want to invite them into my life for ONE day:

    COUNTDOWN UNTIL 4PM; THE STORY OF A WIFE OF A FUNCTIONAL ALCOHOLIC

    It’s an average day, a good day…me, the hubby, the kids, were home (he rarely wants to go anywhere), but we’re doing yard work, hanging out, etc.
    4 pm hits. My body hurts, I can feel the blood heat in my veins. I find my whole body tense each night at this time. Beer run time for him. Each day I hope he’s filling up the car with gas or running out to get us take out, but it hasn’t worked out that way in six years.

    He gets home with his bags of beers. He asks if there is anything he can do to help out with dinner or the house. I say no, and I know this is GO time for him now. I’m snappy at the girls (4 and 7) to get in their rooms. I hurry with dinner and make sure everyone has eaten and dishes are done…I find it easier if we all stay away from my husband.

    After dishes are done….I go make small talk so I can gauge the level of grumpiness, meanness and pessimism for the evening. I can usually tell by how dilated his pupils are. His average is 4 40oz (let me do the math for you: 160 ounces of beer) beers a night. He thinks this is normal and says that I’m “just not from the same place as him, where men drink beer all night”. I guess I’m not, but I can’t assume the results are normal.

    After 6 years together, I’ve finally learned to not argue at this time, which is hard for me, being a very independent (minus this little issue) and strong woman. But I just nod my head and say “yes, yes” to whatever he’s babbling about or being pessimistic about this time….slowly find a chore to do, and back out from the conversation real slowly. ANY slight word said the wrong way can set him off on a rant about what a B*** I am.

    As I’m upstairs, I’m telling the youngest to please not go see daddy for whatever it is she wants to see daddy about. I’m afraid one day hes going to rough-house too much with her while he’s drinking or as has happened many a times before, be a jerk to her. (Normally he’s very loving to her, it’s just when the dark side comes out he becomes ignorant and a horrible example to her.

    I’m also appeasing my 7 year old who asks me daily if we can go to a new house with “just us girls” (I have two stepsons who live wiht also, but that’s a whole other story). I tell her soon, soon, soon, etc. She tells me she’s tired of having to stay in her room all the time. I tell her I’ll sneak her a snack to her room so she doesn’t have to go downstairs. She’s his target when she goes downstairs without me (she’s his stepdaugher) and he picks on her.

    So I’m upstairs, kids are secured in their rooms. I’m wondering how I can love him so much and hate him so much at the same time. I’m hoping he ate a big lunch and a lot at dinner so it’s a milder night. I find busy work..vacuuming, dusting, laundry, etc. I’m so alone, but there are five other people in the house.

    I want to call someone but I’ve lost all my friends. They’ve either seen his dark side and back off, or they’re sick of hearing it from me and back off, or they’re mad we never attend social occasions.

    I’m really lonely now so I go downstairs and see if he’s approachable. I’ll make small talk again. He’ll either join in and we’ll have a okay conversation (even okay conversations are just space holders for me. I don’t really count anything he says while drinking as viable. Almost like reading fiction)…or….his dark side will be out and he’ll say to me “I’m not doing this tonight”..or…”stop trying to manipulate me” or something along that line.

    I go up to our bedroom…usually alone…since he is still drinking and watching TV (at least he doesn’t go out and do it right?). I lay in bed, watch TV, read a book, or do some research on current events for work (I’m a political intel analyst). I write my one and only friend a note about how I’m going to change things.

    I wait for him to come to bed. If he’s really two sheets to the wind, he’ll walk in the room, ignore me, mumble something and pass out, but not until AFTER he tells me in some way how horrible I am and how miserable I make him (One day I want to tell HIM what miserable is all about). If he is mildly drunk, he’ll tell me how much he loves me and attempt to get lucky, and tell me how happy he is.

    As he’s snoring, I wonder what happened to the happy fun girl that I once was. I wonder what happened to all my friends and get mad at them for not sticking with me and then I wonder if I’m the one that sucks.

    I think about how I want to leave but then I curse the next woman (I’m his 3rd wife) who comes in his life. He will love her and be sweet to her and tell her what a horrible person I was…but he’ll change. Years later she’ll see it wasn’t me. Their happy period will really hurt me, I’ll think it was all me.

    What is wrong with me for thinking like this?

    I look at my girls and know I can give them so much more without him around. I look at my youngest, she loves daddy so much, she’ll be mad at me her whole life. I think about his good moments and how he tells me everyday he loves me…and then I convince myself to keep trying.

    So many excuses, TOO MANY excuses. I think I have the world figured out, but I can’t even figure WHY I’m in this situation.

    Going to sleep now wondering if tomorrow he’ll wake up happy or still drunk and pissed at the world. Only tomorrow will tell….but then it’ll inevitably be 4pm again.

  • Chris

    Ok… now I know where this hostility is coming from. Thank goodness for internet history. For clarification purposes and 100% honesty (you can bold that if you want), IM THE DRINKER.

    I’m a professor at an unnamed university here in California and I drink 3 beers a night 1-2 nights a week. Typically this is on Thursday’s and Saturday’s and has been consistent for 3 years or so, it was much worse before and I recognized it and changed. Apparently my wife believes its too much for her own self-indulgence and I stopped for a month and had 3 beers last Thursday which is when it all started. Fireworks went abroad and doors started slamming (none of which was mine). Needless to say I’m thankful I found the source of her witty commentary, and after reading over our ‘suggestions’ I’d be more weary in the future. Having my PhD in Behavioral studies, I can assure you that your commentary and ‘suggestions’ aren’t full proof and a disclaimer should be put up on your site.

    All of which apparently is a moot point from your perspective seeing that I consume a drink. And saying its 3 beers, 2 nights a week is probably just another ‘excuse’ for my behavior. And the screaming and slamming doors by my spouse is clearly my fault because any accountability outside the scope of the accused is just ‘deflection’. I can manage not drinking since you’ve clearly portrayed me as an ‘alcoholic’, but do understand you’re phrasing and lack-there-of could seriously hurt some of these women reading your page? You’ve done a poor delivery is helping these women (which as I read seriously do have issues), but ‘blanketing’ statements are only damaging your credibility and putting people in arms way. Instructing women to confront their spouse (passive or aggressive) isn’t a sure fire way to sell books. Understanding you need to make a name for yourself the more drastic and enabling show you’re able to conduct will allocate more hits to this site – just be more responsible from a humanity standpoint. I wish you much success, and with a little more research and fine-tuning I’m sure you’ll get there.

  • Hello Chris,

    I’ve given my opinion on many situations people have asked about, so I have no idea which comments you are referring to. You obviously haven’t read much of my writing or you would know that I would never suggest 3 beers a night twice a week is even on the radar. That’s nothing…unless you turn into a total jerk with even that little to drink. That would be unusual, but possible. Regardless, it would never make you an alcoholic. It’s hard to imagine anyone going ballistic simply over their spouse drinking three beers.

    There is a disclaimer on my site, referenced on every page. As a published, tenured professor with a PhD in behavioral sciences myself, now retired from academe, I am well aware that when I respond to a query, what I write is my opinion, given what information is provided. This has nothing to do with selling books or making a name for myself. The book is a very recent addition to my several hundred published articles. I am long past worrying about damaging my credibility by offering my opinion that no one “deserves” to be unhappy, that no one has a right to abuse their families, and that alcohol is often the excuse for bad behavior but never the cause.

    Marriage: I believe in marriage; it’s a wonderful experience that can bring out the best in people. We’ve been married over 30 years…after two previous marriages each. I admit I don’t have much use for bullies and other domestic terrorists, regardless of their relationships with alcohol. I also regard spying on your spouse by searching her internet history pretty low, not something to gloat about.

    You and your wife obviously need to do something if you want to save your marriage. So do it; don’t just wait for it to self-destruct. Alternatively, put it out of its misery and go your separate ways. Continuing as you are is just dumb.

    Finally, I have no doubt that some readers will pick up on the deterioration in your spelling and grammar over the course of of your commentary, odd from a PhD. My wife has never been around alcoholics, but when she read it, what came out of her mouth was “He’s drunk!”

  • Andrea

    Chris and I have been together for 3 1/2 years, married for 1 1/2. We started out amazing, he was the nicest man I had ever been with. After our first child I had seen little signs, he wanted a 40oz everynight sometimes two, but he was still an amazing father and husband.when My daughter was little over a year old her little brother was born! and soon after EVERYTHING went down hill he always wanted to drink and go with friends to drink. He actaully cheated on me with a girl from his work, but we found a way to get past it. But since then ive watched chris slowly get worse and worse. Chris CANNOT just have a couple of beers, he has to drink untill he is completely belligerent. when he is drunk he wants to fight EVERYONE, including me I’ve even seen him pick fights with our 2 year old daughter. He tells me, I don’t clean enough, I don’t make love to him enough, let him go places. He has tried quitting many times but it’s only lasted about 2 days. when he is sober he is a wonderful man, but it has gotten to the point he is NEVER sober. when I wake up he’s already gone to the store for booze. He has only physicaly abused me three or four times, but thats because I don’t give in to the fights he trys starting. a few days ago he tried hitting me and ended up hitting our daughter and son! My brother who lives with us locked chris out of the house, chris called the cops to have them remove my brother. But i told the cops what had happened, not to get him into trouble but to try and get him help. H is not allowed near me and the kids for 10 days till his court date. But he is mad at me for what happened and somehow getting his whole family on his side. I love him more than words can describe, n I still want to be with him. i feel like the reason he drinks so bad is because he is unhappy and does not love me. is it true that when you are drunk, your real emotions come out?

    Is this my fault?

  • Mia

    I am married to a “functioning alcoholic” I feel it’s my fault for the situation that I find myself in and I feel even more ashamed of myself for believing him when he said he would change !I was in an emotional and physically abusive relationship with a cheater for 15 years .I finally woke up one day realizing that I needed to get out of that situation for myself and our two children . I was single mother for several years until my children became teenagers and decided they wanted a relationship with their father so they both decided to move in with him. I became very depressed I was in a very bad place when my children moved.I was disgnosed with PTSD from the abuse and turmoil I went through with my ex- husband.That’s when I met my current husband and father to my one year old.

    We have been married for three years and the situation is only getting worse. I knew he had a drinking problem when I married him but he kept promising me he would change . He was the first person I have ever trusted. I don’t worry about him cheating on me or hitting me and he use to make me feel safe and secure for the first time in my life!

    He has never been physically abusive but he is verbally abusive to me and our baby. He dranks straight whiskey from noon until he passes out every night when he is home. He is very controlling and accuses me of wanting to have a relationship with my ex- husband who lives in another State.My husband holds a job which keeps him away from home for several days at a time .When my husband isn’t home our baby is a totally different child .

    When he dranks I cannot hold converstations with him and he picks at me and our child constantly . He acts like a kid and is very jealous of our child!I am afraid to leave my child with him alone even for me to take a nap. I am an older mom and I am very afraid to leave and start over again with a baby. I truly love my husband but I don’t think he will change he doesn’t think he has a problem .He tells me I have a problem. I am so confused and not sure what to do ! Your advice would really be appreciated .

  • Lorraine

    I’m at wits end. I have just found your website and am wondering, are you really real? I don’t mean to be smug or mean, but I’m looking for help. Your site gives me hope that maybe it will work for us.

    My husband was deemed an alcoholic more than 30 years ago. I was young and thought it didn’t matter (I really didn’t know what alcoholism was). I thought I could fix him. Nonetheless, we got married and he went through Alcoholic Rehab for about 6 months. Then he was on medical probation at work for several years. He did well, we did well for about 10 years.

    First let me say that I never believed I was codependent, but now I know I am and have been for the whole of our marriage
    (30 years). When the tenth year hit, life changed, we moved to a new place (and here is when I started denying that anything was wrong) my husband started changing, he started drinking again, arguments started flaring up. It was now me and the children against him, even though it really wasn’t; that’s how he twisted it to be. About 5 years later he was saved by his secretary and brought home one day. The secretary yelled at me and told me to get “this” taken care of or he could loose his job. I didn’t know what to do. So, I asked my father if I could use his name and credit card, which he was kind enough to do. (More codependency). I trapped my husband in the car and took him to a rehab center. We never used his real name. Like the last rehab center, my husband can charm his way out of anything. He was out in about 2 weeks. His secretary covered for him.

    Little did I know for the next 10 years, he had been drinking and cheating on me with women from his work and where ever he had to travel because of his public profile. Other people would suggest that he may be cheating and I would say, “No, he would never, he loves me!” I found out about his ways just 5 years ago. Because of my religious beliefs, I have stuck with him. Oh, it wasn’t pretty. We fought, yelled, and I was almost starving myself to death. I’m small, but I was down to 89 lbs at one time. We even went to a Christian Counselor and they told him there was no such thing as an Alcoholic. Two of our children were off at college, but our one child, a daughter, felt the whole ordeal. She has suffered greatly because of this whole situation. My husband trapped me for a whole year, he didn’t and wouldn’t give me a divorce. I had no money of my own, no car of my own. My daughter and I finally got the help of one of her friends to help us move out. We went and lived with my mother for a year, then we found an apartment and lived there for a year. He would come to visit us and tell me that things would be better and that he couldn’t live without me. So, eventually, yes…we moved back in with him.

    I would only come back if he did 3 things: I couldn’t live in the house that he brought women to, so he had to get us another place to live. I needed him to find another job, because the women there, taunted me and made me feel like I was the bad person. And he needed to stop drinking. Well, I didn’t get all three, I only got 1. We have been living under the same roof for almost a year and a half. And his drinking has increased. Intimacy is nil, so we don’t even talk about that. His drinking is just as you described on the site, except he starts drinking at 3 am, goes to bed to get some sleep before work. When he comes home, he has gone to the store and bought more liquor. He then drinks all night til he goes to bed. Many times he calls in sick or gives an excuse that the family needs him.

    Anyway, now that you know some of my story (believe me, there is much more)and if you knew who we are, you would know why my husband and I are trapped by circumstances.

    Is there really help for both of us and keep it from the public?

  • Rhonda

    I was just looking for some information about living with an alcoholic when I discovered your page here. I read through many of the stories and find some very much the same as my current situation. I just am not sure what I have gotten into, and how long I can fight before I completely lose my mind, myself. I tell him to leave and then allow him to stay. I feel weak, and I don’t know why. I have been on my own, a single parent prior to and after divorce. I know I can do this.. so what stops me? I know I love him dearly, but is my love enough for us both? Any words of wisdom on how I move in a forward motion… and stop myself from looking back?

  • I got married young, and have watched my husband become a fuctioning alcholic, im pregnant with my 2nd child and i wonder is there anything that i can do to encourage him to get better. with children its sooo hard to give up on my marriage

  • rachel

    My husband is a wonderful man. He is 24 and we have been married for a year. We have a baby boy on the way next month.

    My husband has always drank a little from time to time maybe a couple nights out of a month. for a short while he was drinking a half 1/5th bottle of vodka a day. then i told him that i felt like he wasnt going to be able to handle life’s little lemons after we have our child if he cant handle them sober now. I thought this helped, as his drinking slowed to one drink once a week. Now He is buying alcohol without telling me or talking to me first, hiding it in our house so that i am less likely to come across it. And when i ask him about it he tells me he is hurting, or had a long tiring day, or just wanted to relax, etc. He has also stopped talking to me about it altogether.

    I know that he works hard, and he is under a lot of stress. He is also not as bad off as he could be, but i dont want him to get worse again. Is there anything i can do when it seems he has shut me out of that area in his life?

  • patricia

    Dear Dr Neill,
    earlier this week, reading this and the many other posts has been helpful and heartbreaking. Your own experience of the family disease and the pain it has caused you.

    Last october, my husband entered rehab in the UK and for the first time in years…I felt at peace. When that decision was finally made, the chaos, the insanity of what my life had become, only then was apparent.

    Like so many other couples, drinking, parties and ‘fun’ were a regular part of our lives. But truly, since we met in the early nineties, I now realise that his drinking was never anything but alcoholic. There were few really negative social consequences and we do live in the UK, a country that turns to drink for celebration, sorrow, sport, music, Christmas…on and on.

    In fact, the more i think about it, every occasion with drink ended in excess; a row; an incident; no violence thank goodness; harsh words; embarassment.

    5 years ago the first of our children arrived. Our beautiful, amazing children. It was then, that I really began to notice the excesses. I had stopped and it was stark, this father to be was drinking every day. Hiding the evidence. Back then, I screamed, pleaded, tried to control his behaviour. There was part of me that thought, being a father will be the making of him. many familhy and friends felt the same. Some thought that my concerns were excessive, hormonal.

    It still amazes me how many people don’t notice an alcoholic. I feel that i have developed an alcoholic 6th sense. Can spot them. The smell, the slur, the confidence, the opinionated that far away look.

    The sound of a can being pulled, the popping of a cork, those sounds would hurt. Especially when on your due date, wanting support, and clarity. Thankfully, for each of my labours, he wasn’t wasted, just hungover. But he could have been. Each one is on my list of hurt, the mentally ingrained list of occasions, that you never forget. It’s a long list…
    sometimes, its little things that hurt the most, and during my stay in hospital:
    Itching to get away in the hospital – to go out
    being late to visit, later than every other dad – after being out
    not answering the phone when i called in the night

    He adores his children, without question, but the full horror of alcohol addiction only really dawned on me after having them. They cannot make him stop. If your beautiful children, who you adore can’t make you stop, what on earth can? The alcoholic and the alcoholic alone is the only one who can do it.

    For three months after my husband’s trip to rehab he was reborn. He looked healthy, we talked, he went to aa meetings, talked about his feelings and mine. We were living again, not just existing. I discovered al-anon when he was away, I don’t go very often
    I don’t go very often now, its so hard with 3 very small children, 5 and under and working full time. The nearest group is quite far away.

    But it crept in again, another one for the hurt list…money spent on drink, money spent on rehab.

    He’s stopped going to aa, not for him he says. Too depressing, too much a way of life, too spiritual perhaps. Too much emphasis on abstinence.

    So many times I have reached breaking point, have hidden it from children, but have I? All the evidence suggests children in alcoholic families are damaged. My eldest gets too angry, my middle daughter seems sometimes melancholy. It must have an impact. But we do top up the emotional bank. Lots of love from both of us, but when a binge hits, he tries to hide it, I sense it, I tense because of it. I try not to argue, there’s no point with someone who is drunk. He’s negative and nasty when he’s drunk. Or not there, asleep on the couch, slumped on the bed. That is equally damaging for the children too. I find it hard to hide my repulsion.

    But when sober he bakes with them, plays with them, reads stories, changes nappies, they know he adores them. I’m nearly getting to the point of my email.

    Last week, I finally felt like I was ready to walk away. Crushed and unable to cope, returning from work three times to find him slumped on the couch, with chaos round the house from ‘looking after the children’. Not knowing if he had been drunk driving with them, knowing that he was not fully responsible, I know that because my daughter had emptied the contents of the bathroom toiletries and make up around the house. Wound up like springs, from sweets and dvd’s I’ve calmed them down. Given them dinner, bathed them, read bedtime stories and then read blogs through the night looking for advice, the right thing to do.

    I wrote to my sister in law and my mother in law, my dad wouldn’t react very well. He loves my husband, but can’t understand it and gets very upset/angry which doesn’t help me or my children. My dilemma, my in laws – granny and grandpa, who live 150 miles away have offered to take all three children. To give me scope to live with my parents away from stress, visit at weekends until my contract ends in 5 weeks. The break may be the shock my husband needs to focus on him and work to stop drinking. Taking my eldest, the five year old out of school worries me, but where they live is beautiful, he loves it, it is safe, warm, stable. They’re a retired teacher and vicar, so no problems on the education front.

    Today I talked this through with my husband, after sending the children to stay overnight with my parents. Speaking to them tonight, they were so happy after a day at the zoo. I packed enough clothes for a week, and guiltily gave my mum a bag of laundry that could be washed for my in laws if they were all to go. The idea would be to visit at weekends, get counselling, finish my work contract, my husband is due to start a new contract 55 miles away from home…the commute worries me. We are due to overlap, but childcare arrangements would then be down to me as my job is closer. getting three children out of the house and into school/nursery and be in work by 9 is a challenge.

    I talked to my husband about this plan. Today he is sober. It’s the first time we’ve talked openly for a while. He thought it was radical. It is. I could see the whites of his eyes, the trembling of his voice, of not being with the children. I’m wobbling, hence I’ve been typing since 3am and after praying to a God that I’m not sure I believe in for guidance, I’m here writing to you.

    Is it predictable that he would say, at least give me one last chance, put my parents on standby and if I falter, then an adventure with granny and grandpa is the order of the day. Am I being weak considering it? Has he taken too many chances? More importantly does the addiction need a jolt? Do I need some space, yes.

    What should I do?

  • Teresa

    Reading these posts breaks my heart. How sad to know how many of us there are whose lives are totally controlled by alcohol and our loved ones’ relationship to/with it.

    I sit here tonight reflecting on my birthday, which was now yesterday. My husband never mentioned it, didn’t not catch on when my family took me out for lunch, when friends and family called or when I had a birthday bag of gifts on the kitchen table.

    My conversations with him yesterday were probably very common to many of you “bring me a beer” followed by “I love you very much, Sweetpea” slurred as an afterthought.

    My husband and I have been married for 4 years, together for 6 now. I knew he had a problem when we married. I stupidly believed I could love him enough to change things. He did quit for a year and a half and gave me the best gift I will ever get from him. Time with HIM.

    I have given up any hope on him ever being my husband in any sence of the word now. We live our life with my serving the role of mother/caretaker, provider, and prostitute or service provider to him. There is no love or making love involved, it like everything else in this house is for HIS needs.

    Having said that, I have a separate life. I am a professional, a teacher, I have grown children and grandchildren and friends that I cherish. Just not at our house. I’ve been embarrassed, humiliated and ashamed too many times to allow anyone I care about to see how we live.

    I love my husband’s memory, I will not leave him. Alcoholism may not be a disease, but it is killing him, and probably me along with it.

    There are no easy answers, and there is little hope that this aspect of life is going to improve. Thank God for the rest of the people and parts of my life.

    Thank God!!

  • Annie

    Tonight I have finally had enough of sitting watching my husband drink for a few hrs then go off to bed. Too many nights I have done this and tonight is the beginning of a new outlook. I love him very much and have no plans on leaving, but I am going to begin to change how I am intertwined with alcohol. I have a beautiful sitting room which I am going to use more often. Instead of sitting a fuming while he drinks all night I can come in here close the door and ahhhhhh peace!

  • Valerie

    I’ve been married 9 years; I knew my husband had alcohol issues ~ DUI’s, buying beer but skipping rent, etc. He also had his 2 kids: his ex left them in his custody, but was always telling the kids what a drunk dad was. He actually showed a vulnerable side to me which was a window to me – if he can let his guard down with me, he can stop using alcohol to hide behind.

    Even so, I was a fully consenting adult. Then I got pregnant. In the past 5 yrs, the drinking has gone through peaks & valleys – the latest uphill swing was triggered by him quitting smoking cold turkey.

    But most of the time he denies being drunk, gets snappy with both of us, and crawls into the spare room & stacks beer cans like a pouty child.

    I could leave, but I know in my heart I would lose.my.mind thinking about my son being @ his dad’s for a weekend. As long as I stay, I can monitor the situation & keep my son safe.

    I just told my son ‘I love you’, and he replied ‘I love you the most. But not Daddy. He yells all the time.’ He then recited an elaborate plan to get rid of Daddy (mostly culled from movies, such as putting him in a trash can that takes him to a dump & then Daddy can’t find his way home. And he’d like to build a robot Dad to help out when I can’t take care of him.). I honestly wish I could tape this stuff, tie my husband to a chair & make him watch it on a loop for a few days.

  • Patricia

    I’m so glad I found your letter Valerie. I am also living with a ‘Functional Alcoholic’. I am older than you and have four grown children and Grandchildren. We moved to a smaller community some time ago and I think that was the time I actually noticed his drinking becoming worse. He has always drank but I think I just didn’t see or didn’t want to see. I was injured at work many years ago and literally haven’t been able to go back to work so I am dependant on my husband now. It is just he and I. Our children no longer live at home and have lives of their own. My health is not good so I try coping with that on a daily basis. With me not working I have no income so I do rely on my husband for support. I love him dearly and we have been married for many years but I’m finding it more difficult as the years go on to cope with his constant drinking. It is every single day as soon as he comes home from work. When he has a day off he starts drinking at 2 p.m. no matter if he’s gotten up at 10 a.m. I know his habits when he drinks. With us living in a small community he always alternates where he goes to get his liquor or beer. I don’t want to go into the liquor store with him because I’m quite sure everyone knows him because of his purchases. When I said he alternates where he goes his purchases are usually a case of 15 beers one day, a 750 ml bottle of liquor the following day and then reverts back. This is every single day of the week. When I have a drink I try to find some sort of liquor my husband doesn’t like. I am what someone would call a ‘social’ drinker. The medication I’m on really doesn’t mask well with liquor so I am very careful with what I consume.

    I think I’m an enabler or at least I have been. My husband never liked to have company over and our children remember that being a concern as they were growing up. It’s gotten much worse. He doesn’t like me to get close to our neighbours and I don’t really know the reason why. I need company and thrive on someone visiting. I constantly worry that someone will come over or knock on the door and my husband will have already had enough ‘liquor/beer’ by 6 p.m. (he gets off work either 3 or 4 p.m.) that it’s quite noticeable. I get worried that he will try to strike up a conversation and not make sense. As soon as he picks up a beer or makes himself a drink I seem to close myself off now. I know what the remainder of the evening will be. He’s not a ‘mean’ drunk by any means but he’s also not himself at all. He is a different person when he has too much to drink. I can’t take it anymore and don’t know what to do. I don’t think our kids really know what is going on and I don’t want to demean their father. They already think that I am the one who is ‘too emotional’ My husband ridicules me when he’s talking to them and he has a favourite saying “well, you know how your mother is” I honestly think they don’t take me seriously because “i’m too emotional”.

    I have bought the alcohol for him over the years, I have called into work for him over the years, I have made excuses for him to our children over the years, but I can’t continue to do this. I mentioned about my health being an issue..I know longer drive so I feel as though I am stuck. My husband also has health issues but even though I constantly remind him that he needs to worry about his health and the amount he drinks it doesn’t sink in. I don’t want to wake up one morning with him dead. I actually sleep in the other room now. I just can’t stand to watch him drink every single night, smell the remnants of the liquor or beer or watch him when he’s finished drinking for the night wander around the house as though he isn’t sure where he is.

    We live together but again we don’t live together, if that makes any sense. I am scared. I feel I need to leave but I don’t know where to turn. I have threatened to leave before and he always apologizes but this can’t continue. He won’t stop drinking and that has an unhealthy and financial problem. He really doesn’t think he has a problem at all. Your letter just made me think more and made me realize that I’m not alone, even though it feels as though I am. I could go on and on. If anyone has any suggestions for me I would appreciate hearing every one. Even though I haven’t mentioned everything I do feel better I’ve written some things down. Thanks for listening.

  • Charmaine

    My husband drinks every day but recently has been hitting the bottle harder due to stress at work and his ex-wife won’t sign for the transfer of the title deed to his house even though they are divorced and he paid her out for her share. It is really taking its toll on him. He spends at least 2 days per week at home because he still has too much alcohol in his system in the morning and should he go to work and they blow him, he would blow over. I love him and want to help him but don’t know how. Scolding and berating him makes it worse as he already feels bad about it and it makes him even more depressed. How do I help him out of this dungeon in a positive way that will benefit both of us?

  • I’m not sure if my partner is a functioning alcoholic or not, but his drinking is stressing me out.

    When we first met we both used to have a social drink together with dinner or friends or at our local pub – nothing out of the ordinary – so I didn’t see a problem. He has always been a loud bubbly popular person as is good fun to be around. I moved into his house 2 years ago and everything seemed to be fine. I noticed he liked a drink but just thought he was trying to make me feel more relaxed about moving into his house. We both decided to start trying for a family, which is taking a long time, which i think may be due to his drink.

    Now i notice he has to drink every day. He can go for a couple of days if i pick up on it, but then he goes back again. When I ask him to stop for the sake of our family, he says he will but he never does, and then laughs and says he is a good liar. I feel like all our friends think I am miserable because he stresses me out so much. I think he has ADHD as he is hyper active from the minute he wakes up in the morning until he goes to sleep, and it is very tiring and even worse when he drinks. He is not a bad drunk, just hyper and annoying and play his music loud and won’t take no for an answer. He also pressures me continually for sex and is like a leach all night long, and I’m tiered of it and don’t know what to do.

    He says, like all the other stories, he doesn’t have a problem as he works hard at 2 jobs and why cant he relax and have a drink. But it affects my life.

  • Josinella

    Thanks for having this website and post. I can’t believe that I am in this situation. I have been married for a year to a man that I have come to know as a career alcoholic. He is functional (marginally) when not drinking (sporadically) but he uses every excuse in the book to drink. And, he is an angry drunk. He has yelled and screamed at me and it has become violent at least twice. He bought a house for us (me and the kids). In the course of a year, I have come to see why the other women left him. It is really scary because I am a recovering alcoholic. I just don’t venture down the paths my husband goes down and I know my limits and what proper behavior is. I love him but in the same light, I have to put distance between his addiction and my mental health. I would have great sorrow if things progressed to the point that I would have to leave him. However, he is his own worst enemy and I have to protect myself and the kids. He has been through a twelve step program but believes that he can “handle” his booze. Not the case! Whenever he is drinking, he is like another person, a person I care not to know.

  • Mimi

    Valerie,

    I too am so happy I read your post. My husband sounds exactly like yours. He knows exactly how I feel, yet continues on his road of addiction. We too, have agreed to disagree. There are still times, however, that I fall into the abyss of self pity! Your post has righted me, and I thank you so much for that.

  • TammyLynn

    I am so exhausted from living with an alcoholic husband. The anger and resentment build in me everyday. My husband was laid off over 2 years ago, and I have yet to see any motivation to provide for me. I have a professional job and thru the years have worked 2 and even 3 jobs to provide for my daughters when he would be laid off or fired from various positions. This man has a college degree, but beer guzzling is more important to him. I have been married for 27 years and not a week has gone by where he has abstained from beer. Every night he drinks at least 12. He has fallen, he has DUI’s (2), he has humiliated me, and frankly I am sick of it. He begs me to buy him beer, which I have stopped purchasing. I control the purse strings since he is not working, but he has stolen money from me. Everything the previous responders have said I have experienced too. Holidays, vacations, birthdays….you name it….I have experienced the tension and embarrassment. I am finally beginning to separate myself from this crazy madness.

    What really angers me is the fact that when he visits his elderly parents, he sits with his dad and drinks. They know how his drinking affects my life, but his mother and father have never assisted me in at least not condoning this sickening behavior. They then allow him to drive home drunk. This worries me deeply. He could kill someone or himself. His last DUI, his mother bailed him out. I refused. I get no support. My children are grown now, but they had to live with the alcoholic dad because I was so co-dependent. I blame myself so much. I wish I could turn back time. It’s such a lonely life. I have missed so much joy, and I have been saddled with tension, anxiety, and sadness.

    What can I do to start getting healthy? I am 47 years old and have been with this man since I was 16. It’s so hard to be sexually attracted to a man that just embarrassed you the night before or drinks until he mumbles to himself. This guy has a teaching certificate, but has never used his degree. Last weekend, he was so drunk that he could not walk up the stairs to bed. He fell and rolled around. This weekend, we went to hear an outdoor band, he got so drunk that he hung on everyone and peed outside where people could see him. He was out of it. Of course, I drove home. Alcoholism is such a selfish, evil condition. It has changed the course of my life. I need help. I am so very sad and I feel so empty.

  • Elaine

    Dear Doc
    thank you for your piece on functioning alcoholics. I KNOW my husband is one. And I am getting extremely annoyed with the fact. He works from home and starts drinking early EVERY DAY. He finishes a bottle (750ml) a day and then some. If his brand is finished and the shops are closed he will drink whatever he can find in the house containing alcohol. He has NO regard for our finances and would rather buy his drinks than keep up with bills or anything else I might need.
    He has already become violent towards me and it has been documented by my doctor. Althugh i do not wish to leave the marriage, i also don’t want to carry on like this.

  • David

    I can’t get through to my wife anymore, and she won’t acknowledge that she has a problem. I’ve tried the authoritarian route, the supportive route, made plans that would foil her usual danger time in the evening, but nothing seems to have any effect. My position in the relationship has been reduced to somewhere below the nightly bottle of booze. I wish I could say that I’m a tough guy and “I can take it” but I can’t, this hurts so much… I’ve even joined in on the nightly escape because I can’t stand her drunk when I’m sober. She doesn’t have any friends anymore. Not so much from the alcohol but because our friends decided to have kids and we didn’t. So our affinities with them just withered. Her one sister is a climber and it just wouldn’t do to have her older sister around infringing on her social status, so Jane is hurt by that.

    At home Jane has never helped with the domestic duties but as a self reliant guy I never minded because i take care of all the cooking and cleaning just as a matter of course in my day. Now though I feel like a fool shackled to a alcoholic anchor that will sink without me.

    Yeah, the easy answer is to just get away from her. But that would be abandoning my responsibility to her and at this point I’m not sure there is anyone who would care about her enough to step up. The real problem is that she’s always had an inferiority complex in spite of our great personal successes in life and I think the booze may alleviate some of that “I’m not good enough” noise in her head.

    With me out of work and her income being the only money coming in, my value or opinion isn’t worth much anymore to her. I just feel like we’ve ended up down the rabbit hole and not quite sure of our next step out. How long do I have to idle around in here before she decides to help herself? Will she ever decide to help herself, without some catastrophic event?

    Finally at 39 she manages to get herself up and go to work everyday. Since even this amount of self discipline has taken her 18 years longer than most to master, I feel that I’ll be dust before she manages to beat the booze.

    The anger i have is at my wife Jose, The love I feel is for Jane who has always been a caring, super intelligent, loving, giving person who I decided was exactly the girl I wanted to marry. She always brought out my soft side and reminded me that life is about caring for people and not manipulating them. (an inherent trait in anyone with testicles)

    Co-dependent? I guess so! I remember my life as a single guy, it was very lonely stuck on a military base for every single holiday watching television shows of people with family enjoying their time together. So, life outside of this, in my mind, wouldn’t be the whole world open to me again like when I was younger. I’d be just another weirdo on the singles website trying to convince other broken people that I’m an enabler and will do whatever they want in an attempt to make them happy. Look, I have my ex-wife as proof!

    I’m honestly lost at what to do, I guess she’ll just have to wait until I get a job and have more resources (available choices). Money problems have just added more weight to everything.

  • Audrey

    Dr. Neil –

    I have been married to a man who works in the federal government for 18 years. I did not know he had a problem with drinking beer until I married him. While married, I found out that the first marriage ended because of adultery on the part of the wife and his beer drinking and because of the wife wasting his money. Since I have been married, besides the drinking that he says I am the only one with a problem with it, he does not bring his money home. I find bank accounts that I did not know about. His kids 29 and 33, he seems to worship, while he cusses at the kids in our home. When I ask for money, he never has any.

    I do not have a good relationship with his kids because of the continued favoritism, my kids have seen. I picked up and left a few years ago, we continued our relationship, he visited, he said he was changing. He finally came to where we are. Along with him comes the beer every weekend, he can no longer perform (I told him because of the drinking) he denies that. Just like previously, where we lived before, he does not spend time with me or the kids, its as if we are the second family and we don’t deserve his time.

    He always wants to yell at me, and recently, he seems not to trust me. Despite, I have been with him for a long time and loves him, but I am the one he seems to distrust. He got mad at me one time because I changed the password to our joint acct. I changed it because he talking to me like I am his child, he’s going to monitor that account. It seems like he wants to treat his kids like adults and me at 48, like I’m his child. It seems like the drinking, and other issues have become again problematic. Any advice? I feel like he’s punishing me because of his ex-wife’s mistake.

  • Allison

    I HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR OVER 8 YEARS. NO CHILDREN BUT I HAVE A HUSBAND THAT LOVES TO DRINK AND I FIND MYSELF ALONE ALL THE TIME AT LEAST TWO TO THREE TIMES A WEEK. AT FIRST MY HUSBAND WOULD DRINK AND I WOULD BE THE ONE TO PICK THE FIGHT BC I WAS UPSET OF HIM LYING AND GET HOME DRUNK. BUT WITH THE YEARS GOING BY THIS JUST STARTED THREE MONTHS AGO.

    EVERY TIME HE GETS HOME DRUNK HE WANTS TO INSULT ME , CALL ME NAMES. IF I DIDN’T GET HOME BEFORE HE DID AND HE WAS DRUNK HE LOCK ME OUT. THE NEXT DAY AS ALWAYS HE IS SORRY AND DIDN’T MEAN IT. BUT HOW CAN HE BE SORRY AND REALLY MEAN IT WHEN TWO OR THREE DAYS LATER HE IS DOING THE SAME THING. THIS HAS BEEN A BURDEN ON ME , EMOTIONALLY BIG TIME, I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH WHAT I AM GOING THRU.

    WELL I HAD ENOUGH. I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS MANY TIMES. IF I LEFT WOULD I COME BACK? WOULD HE LOOK FOR ME? WOULD HE BEG OR WANT ME TO COME BACK? ALL MY ANSWERS THAT I FEARED THE MOST CAME TRUE. I SPOKE TO HIM BEFORE I LEFT AND EXPLAIN THE MAIN REASON WHY I WAS LEAVING . HIS REACTION WAS NOTHING .. NOT ONE WORD. IT’S WEEK ABOUT A WEEK. NO CALLS, NO INTENTION TO TRY TO HELP HIMSELF. INSTEAD THE I FIND HIM DRINKING AT THE BARS ALL THE TIME.

    HOW TO REALLY LET GO ? AND CAN I? I AM LOST FOR WORDS AND MY WORST DREAM CAME TRUE.. THIS IS OUT OF MY HANDS AS I HAVE LOST MY BEST FRIEND.

  • I'm Learning

    I just wanted to write a quick “Thank you!!” to Valerie for her wonderful post on Sunday. Your post is exactly what I needed to hear. My situation is almost exactly like yours. We’ve been married five years. With the help of a close Aunt, who is my sounding board and is ALWAYS there for me, I am slowly, v . . e . . r. . y slowly finding myself again after giving everything I have to my husband. Thank you again Valerie for your most encouraging words!! xo

  • trisha

    I married my second husband a decade ago. I knew he had a 17-year old son who smoked, did drugs, had homosexual experiences and had a DUI at 16. Hubby was so nice to me and my two sons, then 7, that I gave him a chance.

    He never drank in front of me, and only drank at his family functions. He quit smoking in 1997, before we dated. He is several years my senior, an Italian immigrant, and was not married to his son’s mother. He was very loving to me, but tended to put his mother’s wishes and his son’s “needs” ahead of me. This means that his mother, who BEGGED his father to keep hubby’s son and raise him, couldn’t control him and wanted hubby to devote his assets to bailing him out (paying defaulted loans, fines, legal bills, etc) instead of being with me. He flunked out of college TWICE, refused to work until the mayor got his son a city job. Sonny was suspended 60 days this year when he tested as drunk OTJ–my hubby paid ALL of his bills, and cut it out of the money he puts toward our expenses. He has been giving me “whatever he thinks I need” for a decade, and more often than not I am flat broke before the bills are paid…

    A year ago, he started smoking, and chewing nicorette. He began going out “gambling” every Friday and some Sundays to play blackjack tournaments at the casino. He spends at least $90/wk on alcohol. The last two days I have gotten so angry I want to kick his butt. He invites over our neighbor, who is diabetic, and insists he drink with him. They got so drunk that they were screaming and cursing so bad I thought my neighbors behind us would call the cops.

    Today was the last straw. He made 2 quarts of Long Island Iced Tea, and the two of them sat at my dining room table swilling this crap, eating a pound of Italian meats and cheeses and a loaf of bread. They sat screaming abusive remarks at me, and I ignored them. When dinner was ready, I called him, and said, “You knew I was making dinner…why did you load up on junk??” His friend left, hubby ate two dishes of pasta.

    Suddenly, he began calling me obscene names, making fun of the fact that I have had to retire on a disability, and I am having major surgery to remove tumors in my neck that may be cancerous on the 22nd. He called me a “fat lazy slob” (he is the one getting more obese) and said I was a “bottom feeder” because I have SSD. He got louder and more abusive…finally, I told him I am not sure I want him with me when I have my surgery. He has a poker game Friday the 23rd, and his high school reunion on my birthday Sept 24th- planning to leave me alone not only on my birthday, but after a major surgery- which may or may not reveal cancer.

    He is insanely jealous of my sons, now 20 (21 on Oct 20) both of whom will be college grads within months. One son, my “protector” is on internship in Washington, and I am glad he is away for this crap. My older twin son has to live on campus this year, will graduate in May. He was invited to join a band making a CD, and hubby refused to go to the concert they gave on Labor Day! He got sloshed, went out by car to “buy coffee at WaWa”, and did not get home until 40 minutes after I left!

    I have multiple disabilities, one a WC injury, and hubby calls me a “bum” because I cannot work. I am under a psychologist’s care, and the doctor is one of the ones who told me that if I did not stop working, I would be dead within a few years.

    I do no more than I must for this man. He had prostate pain, and dumped on me the task of filling out his forms. I do not iron his clothes (he is OCD, wants even underwear ironed), and I cook one meal for everyone. If he ducks out on family functions, I will do likewise with his family, which will cause him problems, because he won’t buy anyone gifts.

    I doubt you can help me, but I ask that you pray for me. I want to live for my children, and my beautiful kitten.
    Thank you.

  • armybound

    I’ve been with my husband for three years now. We had a whirlwind courtship and married after about four months. I was fine with that, as we’d known each other all through middle and high school. The thing is, we lost touch for a couple years. When we met up again in 2009, I knew he’d had a problem with meth in the interim, but didn’t catch on right away about the drinking or pot. Everything was going so fast, I had been living with him for about 3 months by the time it all did start coming out, and we had already set the date and ironed out the details. It wasn’t so bad that I thought to postpone things.

    He’s not physically abusive, but definitely is emotionally and mentally. Over time, our arguments would escalate into him slinging vulgar obscenities at me, and eventually (after I tired of getting kicked in the teeth) evolved into these ugly knock-down drag out verbal brawls over everything from me going out alone with friends (forget any of the MALE persuasion, oh GOD no!) to him being a grade-A slob.

    Only after I ended up a broken sobbing heap on the floor or packing (I left once already, for about two months.) did he stop. Only then would he realize how much the drinking was affecting us. Over and over again, the fights and the apologies turning into a sick cycle. We’ve been back and forth about couple’s counseling but have never gone. He always wiggled out. After he gave himself alcohol poisoning and I had to slap him back to consciousness and make him throw up here until he dry heaved (no medical at the time, it just kicked in a week ago) he finally got scared enough to start talking with me about things, admit he really COULDN’T control his drinking and make an appointment with Kaiser’s CDRP program. He told me the date, but neither told me nor wrote down the time, and consequently….we missed it. TODAY. We’re doing a walk-in tomorrow.

    I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m at a loss. We’re running out of time, because I’ve been working on losing weight in order to enlist in the Army. I’ve only got thirty more pounds to go. I’m so scared for him, but at the same time, I find that I don’t want to be anywhere near him sometimes because I feel trapped and suffocated. He acts like I’m not supposed to want to be an individual, like my universe is supposed to revolve around him. I’m tired of the vulgar name calling, the shouting matches, the obscene accusations of infidelity (I have never even so much as GLANCED at another man), the drunken groping and him acting like he’s entitled to everything when he does nothing to earn what he wants.

    We don’t go out anymore, he has no friends save two other drunks, alternately insists on going with me when my friends invite me out (they don’t like him. period. and most of them won’t bother to pretend otherwise.) or guilts me into not going, and all he wants to do is sit, drink, smoke, and play his damned PS3. He’s 21. I’m 23. We’re supposed to be ripping it up, having the time of our lives and exploring the world while we still have the energy to do so, not rotting in front of a TV screen like a couple of geriatric killjoys.

    I know it may not sound like it, but I love him, I really do. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m exhausted and terrified. He has a mental/medical paper trail miles long apparently, has been to individual counseling since his parents split when he was six (his mom is a druggie, his dad works for the state but is an abusive prick. the man’s tried to lay hands on me before), so he knows how to work the system. I’m scared he’s going to lie through his teeth tomorrow. He’s had a run with pericarditis, a hernia surgery, and surgery for a collapsed lung. I have enough medical knowledge to know that it’s all directly resultant from his prior meth use and the current drinking. the minimum he was drinking was three 32oz. bottles a night. The equivalent of 9 drinks. I’ve been told that more than 15 drinks a week, one should not be detoxing on their own, especially not cold turkey. Yet that’s exactly what he says he’s planning on. I know that only 5% go through fatal DT’s, but my fear is that he’s part of that small minority. And with his medical history being what it is, can ya blame me?! He’s lowered the drinking to one and a half 32′s, which is the best he can do without getting the sweats and twitching.

    Help. I need some advice, any advice at this point. I don’t want to leave him, I don’t. Especially when he’s actually taking real steps this time, but I’m so tired of the shenanigans, and I’m so tired of hoping and getting sucker punched when he slides right back into this slow suicide routine…..and at the risk of sounding cruel, I’m tired of him holding ME back from living. I’m tired of feeling guilty for wanting to have any amount of normalcy.

  • Debra

    Thank Goodness I walked away when I did. I was a few months away from getting married to a man that I respected, had multiple medical offices, that made me feel warm and welcome. However, when I moved to be closer to him, I noticed there were two sides to him. Since I am a medical doctor myself, I thought it was possible that he may be Bipolar. But what I didn’t realize is that he was an angry drunk that was good at sneaking/hiding his drinks around the house. This lead to my good humored man to become an angry drunk that made nasty comments all directed at me, of course.

    I almost married a doctor that would drink until he was drunk, and would pick fights with me/call me names. Almost anything would tick him off, it was like walking on eggshells. Of course, he would pick a fight, and within 10 mins, was snoring while I cried my eyes out all night.

    His excuse was that he had lots of stress at work and needed to unwind. It seems that every story that I’ve read so far reminds me of my experience with him. As women, we have to be strong, fight for our freedom, and deal with the loneliness that comes from leaving a partner that won’t leave his drink. This situation can happen to anyone. Like I said, we are both doctors so we were both taught about alcoholism and its effects, yet it didn’t stop him from becoming one himself. Socioeconomic status doesn’t stop the alcoholism, sometimes even making the situation worse.

    Do not blame yourself, just get out if you feel you are in a situation that is not safe. No one deserves to be verbally or physically abused. I think our strength and downfall as women is that we feel we can change a person with enough love. If you want the man to show his love and dedication, leave, ask him to quit and wait to see if he follows through with his promise to quit drinking. I was promised verbally and in writing that he would quit, but he never did and probably never will. The final straw came when he took away a cute puppy he got me because he said I showed the dog more love than I did for him. He accused me of cheating on him, and even had the audacity to blame me for his drinking. All of which were untrue. I am sharing my story here just after leaving him a few days ago. Sometimes I feel so lonely I just want to call him back and say I love you, and I want to be with you, and it takes everything in my power to stop myself. It’s better to be alone than to be miserable being verbally or physically abused. I hope this helps someone out there.

  • grieving newlywed

    Dear Dr. Neill,

    On Aug 12 of this year I married the man I was convinced was my soul mate and born for me. We met on eharmony, and had a quick courtship and married 5 months later. In our dating I noticed odd behavior, mostly his mood and attitude and communication, he would get “loopy” is the only way I could explain it… after we got engaged he started to drink more and we started to fight more. I actually gave him back the ring and said I was concerned he was an alcoholic and didn’t want to marry a drunk, though I wanted to marry him. Our parents came together along side of us and he said he was will to die to himself for me and our relationship and would give up drinking.

    That last two weeks until one night I went over and he had drank himself drunk. I guess all the signs were there, but Im a very trusting person who tends to believe the best in people and bought into what Im now recognizing as his justifications.

    Since we’ve gotten married he has gotten very drunk which has led to “hugh blowouts” three times. (we’ve been married six weeks to the day. I’ve noticed that pattern, he binge drinks every two weeks.

    He works, he works a lot. two jobs, because he wants to. And when he’s not drinking things were good at first, but lately Im wondering if he “picks fights” on purpose because he says things like “see, we fight when im drinking and and when Im not.” or “you’re not happy when Im drinking and when Im not.”

    he puts it all on me and I don’t know what to do.

    Is there anything I can do to salvage this baby marriage?!?! Or is it as it feels today… hopeless?

  • Annie

    WOW! I cannot believe there are so many out there that feel the same way I do. All of these stories have a little bit of what I experience in them.

    I have been married for 11 years and we have two children together, a boy 7 and girl 11. Things were fine for a while not much drinking. I can’t seem to put a finger on when the drinking started. But it has made me a mean, lonely, depressed woman. He loves Vodka and will go straight to the bottle the minute he gets home and then he is drinking until he comes to bed. He usually has at least 4 stong drinks a day, goes through 750ml every other day. He passes out on the couch nightly sometimes as early as 7pm, while I am busy with the children, helping with homework, baths and bedtime. He helps around the house, often when I tell him I need help, or he will offer to help. he cleans the kitchen and does laundry when he can. He is self employed so has no one to answer to and can arrange his own schedule. I do not work outside the home and have not for 11 years. I am wanting to find work now that the children are getting older. But have no recent experience. So I feel trapped. He seems to not care about the amount of money he is spending on Vodka, tonic water and limes when we can’t even afford to buy shoes for my daughter!

    I have threatened to leave once and he said I was not going anywhere, and I was not taking his children anywhere. I kept track of his drinking and he honestly thought he was not drinking that much. Told me he would never bring it in the house again. I pointed that out to him later and he said he never said that! This is his 3rd marriage my first. He is 15 years older than me (me 40 he 55) and seems to not have any motivation, no friends, just lazy at times. I am not attracted to him b/c of his drinking. Being intimate is not fun b/c he is wasted. He drinks so much that he won’t shower or shave when he needs too…not attractive! I can’t talk to him when he is drinking b/c he does not make sense. And I don’t even want to be in the same room. So I just go somewhere else to read, or sew or something.

    He also has Hepatitis C and he should not be drinking. But this is his choice, I don’t want to nag either, I have mentioned his drinking before and he just doesn’t get it, thinks he does not have a problem. I feel trapped and unhappy. Don’t know what effect it has on the children, if they think daddy is just tired and asleep on the couch or what. He is not verbally or physically abusive but grumpy and hard to talk to when drinking. He also has always been jealous of my friends and would not like it when I would go out with them. So therefore I quit getting together with my friends and not going anywhere when invited. What happened to me? I used to be full of life and laughter. But I am stuck in this marriage to a ‘functioning alcoholic” no one else but my sister knows about his drinking, he hides it from local friends, they think I am so lucky to have this sweet, talented hardworking husband. IF they only knew…I too feel like I will be a widow before a divorcee. It is hard to live this way, but at the moment I do not see a way out for me as I am unemployed. My goal is to find some sort of work and get out of the house and do my own thing. I think that he does not want me to work or have a social life, that is his “control issue”. When we would go out to dinner he is always the one to have two or three mixed drinks,the biggest size ones you can order! Forget date night, I am always the driver!! No fun for me.

    He sometimes tells me lighten up and to have a drink, and that he doesn’t see how I can deal with the children without having a drink. I like a glass of wine now and then, but I don’t even want to drink with him b/c he will get drunk.

    Last night was the last straw for me, he was passed out on the couch and woke up talking to me and he was making NO SENSE!! Then later in the night he fell out of the bed, and was out of it trying to get back in the bed. This is not the man I married.

    I just want to be happy.

  • Hi,my husband is an alcoholic and it’s driving me crazy,I love him and everyday he promises me it’s the last one. He went to detox like a month ago, he did fine for like 4 days, then he drank one, I got disappointed at him and cried, he said it’s only one, then he keeps on his it’s only one motto everyday since that,but it’s a lie. Every time he’s alone he drinks one, tonight I told him if he wanted to come to the store with me and our 2 year old daughter, he said yeah. On our way back he said buy me a beer, I said no and he starts begging me for a freaking beer on the street. I said look at the way that drinking has you a 42 year old man, it has you begging. I got mad but kept it cool, gave him the money and took off with the baby. When I got to the building I sat down on he front steps waiting for him so I can open the gate for him. I was thinking on telling him that I love him, but that I gave up, that I can’t do this no more,. When he got back I told him, you got to get yourself a room, I don’t want to live with you no more, and his answer was “you gonna leave me for one beer??” Sad but true,addiction is very powerful. The reason why I refuse to give him up is the fact that we overcame our drug addiction. When we met we both were addicts, we overcame that, I don’t understand why he doesn’t give the beer up, but willing to give us up for a can of beer. I pray to God that that day never come!!!God bless you all,keep faith up,that’s all we got at the end of the day!!

  • Connie

    I met my boyfriend in February 2011 on a dating site. Me and my 7 yr son moved in with him in May. I knew he was an alcoholic, but you couldn’t tell, he seemed like everybody else. After I moved in his drinking increased slowly, he usually starts around 10 am and stops right before dinner, we use to eat around 6-7 but it seems to be getting later, he wants me to eat with him so I feed my son and warm ours up later, last night we didn’t eat till 9pm. By 5 pm I am starting to get irritated, he repeats himself constantly and this tends to get on both me and my sons nerves but I try to keep the peace but am finding it harder and harder to do. He has begun to be controlling, an example is I was very sick from 2006 to 2010 and have had some surgeries and am much better than I was. I just started receiving ssdi and have 6 years back pay coming and I want to get a new car and have always wanted a certain one and he’s like we need a family van and that’s it. I feel like I have no choices and I was so sick and I just want what I want, I deserve it for what I have went through (that’s just one example) He wants a sienna van and that’s that . He has his own money, he has a very nice pension. On top of that he also has chronic pain and takes morphine pills, which doesn’t help the situation, but he needs them. He cant even drive 20 mins to go some where without beer and he is a chain smoker. I have voiced my concerns with him but he always says well you knew I drank a lot when we met.

    I just don’t know what to do, I really love him but I don’t want my son to grow up and think it’s OK to drink like a fish and then get behind the wheel. He does do things with my son, they tinker around in the garage and he lets him work with him on little projects. His kids are raised and I also have a 25 yr old, so I had Lucas later in life and he knew this when we met and I guess I just figured he would be a better role model or at least hide it but no he doesn’t. My son has some behavior issues (ADD) and possible social autism (still being looked at). I started taking him to counseling and my BF is involved in that too and wants to be for Lucas’s sake. He put a ring on my finger 2 months into our relationship, I was so thrilled. I should have waited on moving in but it’s too late for that. I just don’t know what to do. I keep thinking things will get better but I think my judgement is a little cloudy. I don’t want to leave him but I don’t want to live like this either and I feel guilty for even thinking about leaving because we made so many plans, buying a house together and being a family. I love him and don’t want to hurt him but my son comes first.

    Is there any hope for us is what I need to know or some good advice. Also our sex life has plummeted because he never tries and I just got sick of being rejected, oh and that’s my fault to because I like to wear a t-shirt to bed, just an excuse to blame me. All I want is for my son to be happy and me too would be a plus, but I seem to be sinking. Please any advice.

  • Connie,

    Is that the model of a male father and husband you want your son to grow up to be? If not, put your son first and take action. The alcoholic is never the one who takes the action. It’s up to you.

  • I went through and read what I had posted and geez, I sounded so pathetic. In my own family my dad was an alcoholic and ended up killing himself and you’d think I would steer clear of men like these, but I’m seeing a pattern and I’m ending it, I’m moving out in November and breaking the pattern. My son is all I have and I would never want to be a contributing factor of why he ended up with this kind of lifestyle. My oldest son is 25 and can’t get off the pills, my whole family (siblings) have all got addictive personalities that seem to outline their lives. I had had a very bad drug problem and when I found out that I was pregnant. I stopped. I didn’t need help. It was so hard, but I could never do that to my baby. I guess I knew what I needed to do all along and now I need to protect him from the environment that I threw him in. I just needed somebody to talk to, makes it easier…thanx for listening :).

  • Susan

    I should have seen the signs 22 years ago about what a loser he is, but I guess I was just too stupid and could not believe how one person can destroy his life because of alcohol. There were signs early on, but because I grew up in a non alcohol family and I always had control over what I drank, even those younger days hanging at the bars, never imagined someone could ruin my life like he has. He blames everything on his childhood, he is a big baby. I had a hellish beginning too, but am not killing my family over it. He has become more physical now, grabbing my clothing and pushing me around. I have a 14 yr old girl who is living this hell, however he does not get physical with her. I know her home life is hell. I cannot leave because I do not have a good job and make less than 10k a year. I am educated, with an MA degree, but cannot find a job that pays well. I have many years of excellent work experience, but no one wants me. On top of that I am diabetic and need his health insurance, although since he has become worse, I have been not taking care of myself because I am very depressed. I cannot leave, I have no place to go and no way to support myself and my child. People just don’t understand unless they are going through it themselves. He is a monster.

  • Will someone who has been there please help Susan toke the blinders off?

  • June

    I have been married 29 years to my functioning alcoholic. I watch him every night kill himself a little more. He is a good man and a good provider. I am not in denial about his drinking. I cannot stand him when he is drunk. I just avoid him. He is not a mean drunk. He would give me the world, but he does not know how to be there for me emotionally.

    I recently had 4 surgeries on my spine. I swear he acts like I should be normal and it hasn’t even been a week since last surgery. I do know I am codependent. I do love him and then hate him at the same time, but I still take care of him.

    He has a very high profile job, he does well, never misses work due to drinking. I worked nights for so many years and now I am home. I now think his drinking hurt our children emotionally. They are grown but they all have issues of some sort.

    I was in counseling for years, I am just so tired of it. Every night I think he might die. I know he doesn’t tell the truth to his doctor.
    I grew up with alcoholic parents and now a lifelong husband. I must sound pathetic. I have a good life most would want, except for the drinking and problems with the grown children.

    I just want my husband to quit drinking and REALLY be my husband and care about me. I don’t know what to do??? Leave??? Stay???

    I know all he loves right now is the bottle. I am not stupid. I know he thinks stupid crap when he is drinking, like he has it so bad or life is not worth living. I think we are blessed except for the drinking.

    I know when you are an addict- Everything else is second.

  • Hi June,

    Only he can choose to take steps to recover from his addiction, alcohol.
    Only you can choose to take steps to recover from your addiction, caring for an alcoholic.

    My book, “Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman’s Survival Guide.” will help you understand more fully how those two statements apply to your life.

    Best wishes,
    Neill

  • Stephen

    I traded one addiction for another and I really feel I’m in trouble and need some help. I quit smoking about 6 years ago, but drinking increased to a dangerous level. I know its a problem and am at the stage where I could use some help. I’ve always thought that AA was some sort of cult so I have stayed away from that. I read every single post on this web page. I gotta tell you, its extremely eye opening. I know I’ve done damage to myself, but I have also done damage to my relationships, first and foremost, God.. I seem to have put Him on a shelf. Along with Him, I’ve forgotten what “it” has been doing to my family, particularly my wife and 2 beautiful daughters. I’m ready. I’ll come back to this site in a few days hoping for some kind of plan of action. Thanks for being who you are. I’m pretty sure this was NO accident, me finding this site.

  • Hi Stephen,

    You might check out http://overcomealcoholismpermanently.com and the accompanying quiz about alcohol rehab. Call me if you want to discuss privately.

  • sue

    I have been married 31 years.
    my husband has been through rehab twice
    we are separated, however he lives in the basement
    we hardly talk and our adult kids are feeling sorry for him.
    he is going to aa and not drinking.
    I don’t know how long I should separate myself from him
    i don’t want this to be easy
    not this time.

  • Leanne

    Hi,

    Well tonight I stepped up and said no! Not the first time but it will be the last time. I’m feeling stronger with the entire I’ve read on this site. We have been together for 9 months and the last two months have been hell to say the least. I know he loves me but that is the drunk saying he loves me. At first it was fun we would go out like all new couples and I’d hear from him “I don’t usually drink like this”. The first 4 months I believed his lies only because that was prior to living together. Now after living together and having financial problems along with my home almost going into foreclosure it has been testing. What I learned was not to count on him. Any crises of any sorts he would drink from am to pm and expect me to as well. He would drink during the day until he was going to pass out then go to sleep. Wake up and start drinking again, and now he does not want to take a shower. So the alcohol coming out his skin and mouth is smelling up my room, of course he cannot smell it. I will have a glass of wine but never the way he drinks, I had health issues and I cannot drink this way plus I do not want to. Seeing him down an 18 packs of beer and look for more has just made me ill, and this has been day in and day out for 4 month. One time he had close to 45 beers in one night, I almost called the hospital to see what to do for him, instead he passed out and I made sure he was breathing all night! He has for the past week worked on telling me he will only do a 6 pack for the entire day but that has been a 6 pack during the day and a 12 pack at night! So where is the cutting back? He still shakes and has a racing heart. I’ve tried to get him help but he wants to do it on his own. Tonight he has no money left from his unemployment he wants to borrow money to pay me back tomorrow. I said no, just like I told him last week when you run out of money I will not pay for beer or cigarettes ever again. He needs to budget his bad habit this habit is costing at least $750.00 a month just for him! My mortgage is just around that. So the money alone is ticking me off. I did offer to help him take the beer cans and I mean tons of beer cans back to the store for the nickel each so he can fund his habit, we get there and he throws a fit not wanting to get out of the car because it’s cold and he’ll do it tomorrow to please give him $20.00. I said no way and he got out and walked home while he is calling all his friends about what a bad person I am. I just don’t care anymore, well I do and it hurts big time but me crying for the next 4 months or so is nothing compared to marriage with a kid in the next year.
    I feel for anyone in a marriage with an alcoholic and I’m praying that I can stay strong with my disappointment and fear of living a life I do not want. I have to get him out of my life this next week. I’ve noticed one common trait in all alcoholics is they are the best people when they do not drink on the face of the planet! It’s really sad.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my even rant!

  • Kate

    I need some help and I don’t have anyone I can ask. My partner of three years goes through phases of drinking heavily, the last one starting last July. Over the past month the frequency and amount has increased to the point I see him sober for ten minutes in the morning before he goes to work and ten minutes after he gets home if he hasn’t already had a couple of drinks. He’s becoming irresponsible about driving under the influence recently and has literally given up doing anything around the house. He was never great to start with, but he spends his time moving between the computer, bathroom and bedroom. If he is drinking beer he’ll go to the fridge as well. He’s lost all interest in food, sex and activities except for the occasional night out as long as involves alcohol of course.

    At the moment, I’m trying to focus on getting myself through a very stressful time when I was really wanting some support from him. Stupid me! Anyway, I feel that I need to try and be there for him as a friend at least for a little while and see if it’s a passing phase as it has been in the past.

    My question is, how do I best approach his lack of participation in our life? Do I ignore him for the next few months and hope he snaps out of it? Do I ask him to accept some responsibility for the upkeep of the place and get off his lazy ass and help out? (Ok, so I might phrase it more tactfully) Do I accept his drunken advances rather than repel them as I normally do? I like sex but don’t respond particularly well to random gropes.

    Yes, I’m fed up and sick of this and the reality is I probably will walk away sooner rather than later, but I am still emotionally invested in this relationship at the moment and care about this man. I want to know how to best help him without enabling him.

    Can you help please?

  • Shruti

    I am 26 years old and i got married in may 2011 but tther i a problem that he is acoholic but we were in love from last 12 years when we were going to school but because of some reason he started drinking and now he is in a such habbit that if he doesnt drinks he cant sleep ,he cant feel to eat anythiny his legs and stomach starts paining and now there is one more problem that he is not having sex feeling and we are newly married and after 6 months everyone asking for good news and there is no answer to give them back,Is there any solution for him to have sex feeling and can we give birth to a chld or there is no solution.Can you help me please

  • Emma

    I’m 35 and I’ve been together with the love of my life for the past ten years now, after a series of failed relationships and generally being in a bad place. I have him to thank for giving my life some sense of normalcy, my family lives him and I’m attatched to his as well.

    The problem is that when we first met he would have a few light beers every evening, which was fine. We’re both pretty shy so when we started dating we’d have a bottle of wine. Now the wine has become a permanent fixture in our lives. I’ll have a couple of glasses after work, I’d like to think I know when to quit (but so does everyone with a problem) Two glasses make me drowsy so I’m usually off to bed by then.

    My significant other however, can polish off a couple of bottles a day. On weekends, more since he starts as soon as he wakes him. He tries to hide it, but I know his tricks. It saddens me to no end and I just don’t know how to raise the issue without embarassing him, or risking conflict. (Needless to say we’re both terrified of arguments/conflicts, we’ve had maybe ten heated debates over our ten year relationship.)

    It’s also affecting our sex-life. I might not be a huge fan of sex, but it seems to be an important part of a relationship. We’re down to once a year or so, even though we’re both attractive. It also affects our social life since he doesn’t want to do anything with me when we’re off, I think he prefers drinking.

    Right now I’m in a place where I need to improve my life, but I’m wondering if my problems and my thoughts of giving us a break might not have more to do with ten years of not being able to confront each other, or just my general dissatisfaction with where I am in life rather than where he is. I don’t want me to bring up the drinking for the wrong reasons. I don’t want to start a fight because of some other underlying issue. If I were more confident and happy I’d be better equipped to know what to do, I think.

    I guess when I say that I want us to be happy again, I mean that I want me to be happy, which feels selfish. If I stay with him I’ll stay lonely, if I leave him I’ll be just as lonely since our friends are all his friends, and I have no family. How do I get him to love me more than the alcohol? Can this relationship be repaired at all considering we’ve slid into a sexless but very loving friendship? I don’t really know what to do.

  • Jamie

    I need help! My husband has been int he military in an extremely intense job for 8 years. I have no doubt he is suffering from PTSD. When we first met he was drinking a bottle of liquor ever 2 weeks or so. He now has a bottle every 2 days. They are small some days and other days larger. He hides them all over, even int he bathroom drinking when he is in the shower. He lies to me about charges on the debit card which I know are from liquor. He is no doubt verbally abusive, always bringing up my past and my faults during his drunken moments. I have a daughter (young) from a previous marriage that I worry will be damaged from this behavior. I don’t want a divorce because I love this man, but I cant live like this anymore. I feel like I am slowly dying a little more every day, and people are starting to see it…

  • Jenn

    Been sitting here reading these comments after a morning in which my husband woke me up telling me he needed help and couldn’t breathe, so I got up and got my inhaler (it was closer than finding his), and came back to find him in the bathroom vomiting. He then started yelling at me for not helping him, and cussing me because I can’t magically stop him from vomiting. He then threatened me, cussed me some more, said I’d never been there for him (despite my running to help every time he yells, which is several times each week, and holding his hand through dozens of panic attacks throughout our 6 year marriage and paying his bills since he got fired)… then he threw the phone at me and told me to call the police, since that’s my “MO” according to him – which I have done, when he was physically hurting me or destroying my property. He then said he was going to destroy everything in the house that was mine, hid my ipod somewhere – he’s seriously jealous of it because I bought it for myself and it’s something I like, so he hates that I have it (he’s also is jealous of our dog, I might add, and if I’m sitting on the couch with the dog, he has to push his way in between us)… he told me he hated me and didn’t need me… hid my inhaler… accused me of “flunking” my phd program when in reality, I chose to leave the program 5 years ago and pursue other things, in part because I couldn’t focus on the work because he was at that time in jail for bad behavior while drunk, yet he still tries to insult me about it, partly because he had already spent years telling everyone I was a doctor, so he was disappointed that my status wasn’t good enough for him at that point. So, basically, a morning of stupid childish ridiculous drunken behavior and none of it new or surprising.

    And then I found this forum, and what I keep thinking as I read every comment is, “Oh, my God, you GET IT.” Because every one of these husbands is my husband. The blame, the excuses, the neglect, the poor hygeine, the lack of responsibility, the utter selfishness, the jealosy, the accusations, all of it.

    I want to thank you all for sharing your stories. I’ve been feeling awful about myself for not leaving, feeling like I’m weak and there’s something wrong with me, despite my having a decent job and being completely emotionally detached from him and managing to keep our household sort of functioning entirely on my own, and knowing with absolute certainty that I’d be fine without him just like I was before him. And yet, I stay, at least for now. And for the first time, I see people who understand and are doing the same thing, and they are not “weak” or codependent, but like me, they have their reasons to stay. Thank you so much for giving me a little bit of support on a really bad day. I wish you all the best.

  • Jenn

    I’ve detached pretty completely from my husband as the “functioning” part of his alcoholism becomes more and more dubious. But here’s the thing. When he’s on the floor screaming for me to help him up, how can I ignore that? When he wakes me up telling me he’s sick – can’t breathe, or horrible headache, or whatever it is – I have to react. Even though I know it’s probably not serious, but it might be, when he’s had several strokes already. When I know that no matter what I do, it won’t be good enough and he’ll end up saying horrible things to me and blaming me and the screaming and cussing might go on for hours. But I can not ignore someone who is hurt, no matter who they are or if the pain is of their own making. He actually told me, while suffering from back pain, that if I loved him I’d make it stop hurting. And became angry at me that I couldn’t fix it. I really don’t care anymore about his issues specifically, it’s not codependence, but human compassion won’t let me completely ignore him when he’s hurt (nor will the fact that he’s screaming in the middle of the night and waking me up).

  • sandy

    I am feeling so dragged down.
    My partner works 5days a week and also does one week on call and two weeks off.
    When he comes home after work, he opens a drink, has a shower, his dinner and will have several drinks a night. he doesnt get drunk just merry. He drinks anyrhing from 2 to 8 cans. It tends to average about 3/4 cans.
    Now, dont get me wrong, he never gets violent or misses work, he chilled and relaxed, happy and laughing… Its the week he is on call i dread!
    Being on call means he cant have a drink… this is when he becomes short tempered, snappy, tired, unhappy and totally distant from me… infact he doesnt really talk to me at all unless it’s snapping or argueing with me!
    I do worry about his drinking… i darent tell him though, i am already walking.on egg shells, and he would brush the comment under the carpet or find something to go at me for.
    I dont know if this is alcoholism or not??!! He is a depressant, as am i, but he is only the man i fell in love with when he has a drink.
    Please help… I need to know if this is considered an alcohol problem x

  • sandy

    I am so dragged down…
    Im confused about my partners drinking habbits…
    My partner works 5days a week, and he also does one week on call and two weeks off…
    His typical evening routine is as follows: comes home, opens a beer, jumps in the shower, has his dinner and has a few more drinks. He drinks anything between 2-8 cans a night, but it averages about 3or4.
    He doesnt get drunk, just merry. He is still lovely, laughing, happy.
    It is the week he is on call i dread!
    Being on call means he cant have a drink, and he doesnt have a sneaky one or anything, which is great, but he becomes so very nasty, unhappy, distant, argumentative, disinterested and extremely tired. He’s awful and unbearable to live with when he cant have a drink!
    Is this an alcohol problem? Reading through everything, the examples seem to suggest that with the drink becomes the intorrable behaviour, but my partner is the opposite.
    He is a depressant as am i, but i darent say anything to him, for fear of him going mad or turning it around on me. I am walking on eggshells, and he is now only ever the man i fell in love with when he can have a couple of cans…
    Please help… Is this an alcohol related problem?

  • Brooke

    My husband and I have 2 kids (3 and 5 weeks). We have gone through marriage counseling and things got better — the reason we have a 5 week old son. However, things went downhill very fast. He drinks at least 10-12 beers a night. He has been on 2-3 day benders. It does not matter if I ask him to stop because he will not or even cut back. I was sick during my pregnancy (gallbladder and preclympsia). I would ask him to cut back in case I needed to go the hospital and he never did. My family hates him because he went on a bender while I was sick and he exposed himself to my sister. My neices were there but said they didn’t see anything.

    He never stays home with me and the boys. It is always just us by ourselves. He is always at our neighbors house drinking. I think I need to leave but need some guidance.

  • sarah

    Hi All, I have been moved by all yours posts. I am sitting here alone in the evening as usual while my husband of 9 years is out drinking. He went out at 3pm. Any free or spare time he spends out of the house drinking. He is not aggressive or nasty when he drinks, I just never get to spend any quality time with him. We also cannot afford to carry on like this. I am so lonely sometimes I think I may as well be on my own. This is my 2nd marriage and when we first got together he would have a bottle of wine most evenings but I never realized it would lead to this. I have 3 kids still at home, like ,most people cannot afford to split to be honest. But it’s not really a great life.

  • jane

    First I would like to thank you all for the stories above. After reading these I realize I am not alone with what I live through daily. My husband is a binge drinker alcoholic. He doesn’t see that he has a problem and blames me for everything. This weekend, he got himself blind drunk on Friday night, then we had a lunch wedding to go to on Saturday. At the wedding he again got himself drunk, and was the loudest person in the room. It is so embarrassing. The looks people give him, and people asking me if I am ok. Its uncomfortable not being able to talk to work colleagues properly because you are too worried about what they are thinking of your pathetic drunk husband.

    I feel stuck in this life. When I try to leave he threatens me and gets nasty and verbally abusive. There is no physical abuse but when the verbal abuse and name calling is so bad, physical abuse is not required. I want to leave but am just too scared. I am emotionally detached, I just don’t care about him anymore. I think I pity what he has become more than anything. I have so much anger inside me, I feel like I could just lash out at anyone who looks at me the wrong way at times.

    I thank you all for sharing your stories. It is good to know that I am not alone and the only one in this horrible situation. I wish you all the best with whatever decisions you decide to make. It’s one of the hardest decisions we will have to make but we must eventually do what is best for us. Tough as it may be, I know it will be for me, your own happiness is a million times more important than someone who cares more for a beer than they do you

  • Erika

    I have been married for 10 years. He was always an alcoholic I was just to naive to see it. He is also a prescription addict. We have 4 kids. My oldest is 20 (1st marriage). We have 3 kids together ages 9 and twin 6 year olds. He is very charming, and funny to others at first then they get sick of it after a while . He pees himself. Says weird things to our kids and I worry as they get older of his horrible examples. I would love out.

    I have turned into an angry, bitter person. I don’t even like myself anymore. I can’t believe what I have allowed, but when I went to speak to a lawyer and told him all of the things my husband has done over the years, he still couldn’t promise me that I would get full custody of my kids because he holds a very good job (in law enforcement). I have been a stay at home mom. I haven’t left because the thought of my husband getting the kids to himself on the weekends without me being able to make sure they are safe makes me sick. I’m scared to risk their safety just because I want out. I should note that the kids are scared of him a lot but usually he just screams at them and occasionally spanks them. But he gets so mad sometimes I think if I weren’t there he would do more when he is mad.

    I also don’t have access to any money. He keeps it all and also spends WAY more than he takes in. A lot of debt. I am in school now and will be finished in August. One of my twins is struggling with anxiety now that her dad has to get her ready for school and I am not home in the mornings. Then I have the added stress of leaving her when she is so unhappy. It makes me want to quit school and stay at home to take care of my kids. Any suggestions for any of this mess?

  • 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! 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.

  • michele

    My husband and I seemed to have a healthy sex life while he was drinking. Now that he has quit (3 months ago) really against his will ( I finally had enough and said I needed out) he is angry and resentful. He no longer has a desire to make love, be affectionate, or really even kind. Is this normal? Does it get better?

  • Dalia

    I am growing resentful to my alcoholic husband. We have been married for almost 3 years and together for 5. I have two kids from my previous marriage and no kids with him. He drinks at least a six pack every day and more than that during the weekends or when he is not working. He has changed so much towards me. I feel like I have to walk on egg shells with him and it makes me feel so alone. All intimacy is gone. He even claims that he is suffering from ED, but refuses to get help. He says I am being selfish when I bring it up to get help or even discuss our marriage problems. I end up feeling guilty and worst of all worthless at the end of the day. My self esteem has reached the floor. Yet, still being this miserable I still can not get myself out of this situation. I honestly do not know what to do. At times I even feel like he is competing with my kids for my attention, and I have grown exhausted.

  • T. J.

    I didn’t read all the comments posted, but your article doesn’t seem to fit my concerns. If it was so obvious as implied, I wouldn’t be researching this.

    I FEEL he drinks a lot. He doesn’t FEEL he does. I have learned not to bring it up. It’s been at least 3 or 4 years since I have so bluntly brought it up. I am not the only person to feel he drinks heavily, but those are my friends and not his. I have seen him put away over 15 beers on a non-work day and at that time seemed a little buzzed after that many. That was the last time I so bluntly mentioned his drinking.

    Now, he drinks a juice glass or 2 full of a scotch (straight up not watered or iced) almost daily (5-10 ounces?), plus several (3-6?) beers simultaneously. If the juice glass is on the bedside table still with liquid in it by the time I go to bed, it will be empty when I get up in the morning. Does he drink after he falls asleep, does he finish first thing when he rolls out of bed??? Who knows. With this much alcohol today, he doesn’t seem the least bit “buzzed”.

    I have suspected he’s drinking and driving. I know I have found open containers in his vehicle within the last 2 weeks which is what has prompted my more immediate concerns. He just turned 40 in mid Jan. Is this a problem for him? I wonder. I’m 39 later this week ~ crap.

    I know he seldom appears “buzzed” and never seems completely drunk. I know he doesn’t miss work, isn’t late or leaves early, doesn’t mistreat us, doesn’t lose his temper with me, still plays with our son and is quite active in our son’s life. Just seems to consume a lot daily and now apparently can’t wait for the 30 min. drive home after work to start consuming.

    Thoughts, beside the fact he has a hell of a tolerance?

  • Divan

    Hi Dr Neill

    My wife referred me to your site.

    My wife feels that I have a drinking problem but I cannot relate to most of the statements that you have mentioned. I feel I am a social drink but I do admit that I have trouble drawing the line once I have started. There have been a few occasions that my wife and I have gotten into arguments while intoxicated and as a result I have said some pretty nasty things that I regret. The past weekend is a perfect example, we went away for some quality time together but resulted in me causing a fight.

    I very rarely drink when I come home from work and there are times that I don’t drink for months on end. I do however become very jolly and much easier to deal with, I have been accused of being very moody and unpleasant at times but I feel this is due to high levels of stress at work.

    I have never lifted my hand towards my wife and neither will I ever but she complains that I become emotionally abusive.

    I’m pretty much at a loss at the moment as I feel this is not going to end well; my wife comes from a very abusive, alcohol and drug addiction background and I feel at times that she uses some of her own experiences to make me feel guilty.

  • Hi T.J.,

    Your husband sounds a bit like I used to be: never drunk, minimally buzzed, drinking scotch from a tumbler straight, and didn’t see a problem. The only differences I can see is that I wouldn’t drive if I’d had anything to drink and I was in the range of 10+ ounces most days. What I didn’t know was that alcohol can kill you in about 60 differnet ways. I started to get sick frequently. It took the Mayo Clinic to find that alcohol was killing me. I was 36 and I probably wouldn’t have lived to 40 if I hadn’t stopped drinking. My daughter made it to 51, and then one day her organs shut down and she was gone in hours. My son died of liver cancer at 41, and he had already been sober for a few years.

    What I’m saying is that your husband is playing roulette with his life, and therefor with his family’s. I treat “lasting” is a part of functioning. Read http://www.neillneill.com/can-the-functioning-alcoholic-last

  • Kim

    Help I am a mother of three children 4. 9, and 12 and my husband is an alcoholic! We married 13 years ago and both just drank socially on the weekends. Over time we both began drinking during the evening to unwind! Now his version of unwinding is 6 to 12 beers every night! Many nights he has a few beers with his friends after work and drives home. He is a farmer and runs a crew of 13 or so men who also find it habit to drink after work and drive home! A few years ago he never arrived home and I woke up with a bad feeling and drove up the road in the middle of the night only to find his truck smashed up on the side of the road! I searched for his body and couldn’t find him anywhere. Fortunately he had survived and had crawled out and made it home. His father helped him low the truck in the middle of the night so he wouldn’t get caught! I sometimes wished he would have.

    I still get a sick feeling every time I have to wait for him to come home! We don’t really have a sex life because he is always passed out at night and smells of beer in the a.m.! He is a great father to our kids when he is sober. I can’t leave him because the thought of our children being in his care makes me ill! He drinks and drives with the kids and doesn’t, seem too concerned. I have to always make sure that they ride with me. If we were separated I wouldn’t be able to control that. If I left my home and he had the children who would watch them when he is passed out? We have a swimming pool and a four year old that needs to be watched! He is also the financial provider for a very comfy life! I know I need to leave I just don’t know how to do it to keep my kids safe! Any advice would be helpful I find this situation only getting worse!

  • Lu

    Hi Kim,
    Dr. Neill is not always able to get to all the comments on this site. But, I wanted to offer you two resources he has available. 1: His book: Living with a Functioning Alcoholic-A Woman’s Survival Guide – http://drneillneill.com/ 2: He does offer consultation – http://www.neillneill.com/consultations

    I hope this helps. I know Dr. Neill has designed this site to help women with these situations!

  • Michel

    I married my husband just over 3 years ago. He had never been married, waited until he was 31. I had been married before and was very neglected so I had hoped that this marriage would be different. My current husband asked me to marry him after only 8 months of dating. I was just happy that someone was actually taking interest in me so I accepted without thinking through the idea of how our marriage was going to be. He is a drinker, I am not. When we first met we would hang out with his friends and mingle very regularly. I thought this was just something he did in his spare time because he was single and had no obligations. Little did I know this would be an ongoing issue and what he wanted to do EVERY weekend. It’s like he has this connection with his high school buddies that he can’t break. I believe he would rather have our marriage end and spend the rest of his life without me than to give up hanging out and drinking with his friends. Every activity he does on the weekends has to involve drinking. I’ve tried to continue hanging out and following him around but it’s just not fun. It is really the only way I can spend time with him. But it is extremely difficult being the only sober person in a crowd of drunks. My husband does not believe he has a problem with alcohol because he doesn’t drink everyday. But I disagree.

    I just want him to want to be with me, make our marriage and me his priority. I’ve tried many times explaining to him how I feel but at this point I just want to give up. I’m finding myself regretting meeting him and getting married. I spend most of my spare time feeling depressed and lonely. I don’t want it to be this way the rest of my life. I believe he loves me, just not so sure he loves me enough. Is there any hope for our relationship?

  • sourgirl

    I don’t need to take any test; I know I am the wife of a functioning alcoholic. I know that the signs are there that he’s not just going to decide to change and get treatment and then everything will be rosy for us and our son. I know it’s not good for my son to be growing up w/my husband and I modeling this unhealthy behavior, but truly, how many wives have the kind of money or support to just leave? I don’t have anywhere to go, cannot afford my own decent place w/my own money, and I know enough about real poverty to know that taking my son from his current situation and dumping him in the projects because it’s the only thing that i can afford, would be trading one problem for another.

    My husband would most certainly not allow me to just take his son away and then make him pay support without a very dirty fight. He is not the type who would leave, either. I can’t kick him out because he would refuse to go. He’s not abusive other than he yells a lot. He’s told me he can’t imagine why anyone would want to live life without drinking. it just doesn’t make sense to him. I just thank God it’s not me, and that my son has one sober parent. Hopefully I will outlive my husband. I just can’t see how I could leave unless I got a great job, or unless family moved closer and opened up their home to me. I think that so many women are stuck in this predicament.

  • Deanna

    I have seen my husband go from social drinking (where he was having so much that he was loud/obnoxious/flirtatious etc to the point a friend of mine refused to come any longer b/c of him and exposing her family to it) to hiding hard liquor in the garage. I confronted him about social gatherings that my friends and I used to take turns hosting to just hang out. Once we all started our families and he told me that I should not be telling him he could not hang out with his friends – mind you the ladies were my High School friends and he was starting to get along so well with their husbands that the “guys” were attending concerts w/o the ladies (leaving us home with the kids); and getting drunk and coming home with pictures of women flashing their breasts. I can recall begging him to not go the last time he went about 9 years ago but he still went and was so drunk he fell to the ground in front of my daughter and then puked in front of her (she was age 5)….etc.

    I also have issues with his use of internet porn which my daughter has happened upon (I have confronted him and told him how I did not like it, I did not approve of it etc many times but he just goes behind my back to the point of even hacking the computer). About 8 years ago he told me his cholesterol was off and red wine would be beneficial (at the time TV was all hyped on that line. I fell for it hook line and sinker) so he (and I) purchased red wine by the bottle for months til he said to buy the box (like bottles worth) b/c it was cheaper — well I would come home (he got off earlier then me and was home a good 30 minutes before me) and he would already be drinking and cooking. He would hand me a glass of wine which would take me hours to sip down and at times I even poured it down the toilet b/c I was sick of wine daily, and he would drink sometimes 6 or 7 10oz glasses a night. I realized how much he was drinking nightly (3 to 4 bottles worth of wine) and confronted him nicely. This was about 2007 and he told me he needed it to relax after a stressful day at work. I explained that turning to a bottle is not the solution for that and he agreed and said he would stop drinking so I get rid of the wine thinking he was being honest.

    Well, I forgot about the bottle of whiskey on top of the pantry that he would take to Christmas gatherings – how stupid was I. After months of thinking he was not drinking I smelled the whiskey on him and began marking the bottle. He was purchasing cheaper whiskey and refilling the bottle on top of the pantry. Did I feel stupid! I again confronted him and a month or so later after catching the porn after my daughter happened upon it one day doing her school work, I called/enlisted a friend who encouraged him to go to a few AA meetings and we separated for a few weeks (I asked him to leave so he went to stay with a single 16 month younger brother – another mistake). Also to note, he opened up an account with E Trade on the internet w/o me on the account to hide money to buy his liquor. I thought he had an awakening and yet opened my arms to him again to find out almost a year later after seeing bloodshot eyes every morning (I noticed, my sisters noticed and our daughters noticed to the point we were all asking him about his eyes all the time). I began looking for whiskey but found none til I asked my daughter and she said that he was buying it at the whiskey store next to the grocery store and that he had bought some that night and the bottle was in a brown bag under the back seat of the truck. Well, I went to look but he had already removed the bottle but the 7Eleven cup of Coke and Whiskey (wait I should say Whiskey and Coke) was still in the truck with the window down on the truck. I confronted him and he quickly grabbed the cup and tossed the contents into the yard saying that was just old coke — right. I ended up saying I was leaving and he wanted to know where I was going. I told him to my moms and he called her at which she (who lives with my father an alcoholic) told me to suck it up after 18 years of marriage I just had to deal with it. She flushed the whiskey out as he finally got into the cabinet in the garage and pulled out a jug of whiskey.

    I thought things were going good til he came home with a bottle of wine one night and I was floored. He snapped at me “well you can drink it all if you won’t let me have any” which immediately I felt back (here goes the codependent feeling sorry for him – how stupid I am again) and I said “Well if you can use the same smaller wine glass and only have the same amount of one drink I think we can share it”. He agreed and I didn’t think there was a problem because we had not drank anything in about 10 months and after all he did schmooze me over making me feel bad about saying no to his drinking. I caught him sucking his glass down and quickly went inside (we and the kids were enjoying the new outdoor fire pit) to get something for the kids. I proceeded to sneak in and sure enough he was refilling his glass and I again confronted him when I was told he was just “tapping it off” – folks he had agreed to not do that …..

    I have been angry ever since and I think he stopped drinking but is so angry toward me “controlling him” he says that I can not do anything (not even put a bowl in the dishwasher) w/o reaping his yelling. I quickly retreat knowing there is no point in arguing w/ him b/c he is always right but then he follows me and sometimes pushes me, grabs me, or restrains me to continue yelling at me and demanding I respect him. How do I ever respect a man who deceived me in such ways and continues to not follow through on commitments? He purchased an online marriage fitness program and it requires that we put all our problems aside and have date nights – heck the first official date night slipped his mind b/c he was working late, then two weeks later he forgot another engagement where he agreed to be there etc….. the list goes on. He is just not reliable/dependable or trustworthy.

    I filed for divorce in June last year and he begged to know what to do to fix things so I told him he needed to see an addiction/alcohol therapist to see if he had a problem (thinking if he heard it from a professional he would take action) and get psychological testing done (b/c of some mental stuff in his family history and the anger where he does things and swears he did not do). Well the problem is that he does them and the psych stuff says that his personality is that of an impulsive liar basically and that it will be difficult for him to change as his personality tends to blame others and he never will accept his responsibilities. He finally committed to an alcohol outpatient program but has only been in it for 1 1/2 weeks. I am so frustrated b/c he is so defensive that I can not say anything w/o him over reacting at me. I am sick of this. Is there any way to get him to see his addictive and impulsive personality?

  • marie

    My heart is with all of you sisters,cause I’m in the same family(married to an alcoholic). Life is a journey and we are not having fun. We are not looking after number one(ourselves) because we do not have the energy and the emotional space to take care of our bodies and minds. Our alcoholics husbands are the winners. We are the losers, because we love them we are allowing this pathetic people to take control of our lives.

    My husband is an alcoholic and violent and I’m still here with him. Am I crazy? Believe it or not I still love this bastard but I hate his behavior. I lie to everyone about his addiction even in court when he was arrested for hitting me. He humiliated me in public and privately. He has no remorse of the damage he has caused.

    The last binge drinking was 2 days ago, and we arrived home he started abusing me again. I got into the car and drove away. When I came back I was locked out. I slept in the car for the 3rd time since we live hereed (20 months).

    Because of his job we move a lot and always I’m unhappy. Then I found out that does not matter where we are going I’m carrying the problem with me HIS ALCOHOLIC BEHAVIOR.

    take care

  • Lynne

    Dr. Neill,

    I love this post and I also get the newsletter. I thought I’d try my hand at quickly telling my story……..

    Married for 27 years (together for 33) to what I would definitely call a functioning alcoholic who I wonder is also narcissistic. I would also drink in the beginning just like your article but after kids I grew up and he didn’t. In fact, he really didn’t. Life for him was the same. I was basically a “married” single mom. He drinks every night 4-6 beers. And he was out a lot with his hobbies – he golfs, hunts, skis, snowmobiles, and he drinks with every single one of these hobbies.

    His latest hobby was women. He’s cheated on me with 3 women in the last 9 years. The 1st one lasted 2 years and we had to bring her to court to stop her from harassing us after it was over. The 2nd one lasted 9 months and ended in dual restraining orders. The 3rd one lasted at least 2 years and could still be going on now.

    It was with that one that I finally got it and left. I wanted to leave after the 2nd one but my oldest son begged me not to. After he was in college, me and my youngest son (15) moved to my mom’s, since September.

    I have figured out that I was indeed co-dependent of him and am working on that. It took me to get out of that situation to really see what I was living with.

    I don’t want a divorce but it certainly looks like it will go that way. I thought us moving out would be his “bottom” but it wasn’t. My therapist thinks it will take actually filing for divorce for him to bottom out. But I doubt that, too. My youngest son is very angry with him and wants nothing to do with him. THIS is the one thing that seems to bother him.

    I have no idea if during the 5 months I am gone if he’s still got girlfriends or not. It bothers me but I’m trying to not let it.

    I am working towards a future – I’m going back to school at 48 years old so when my youngest son graduates from high school I’ll be better prepared to take care of myself.

    I’ve been to a lawyer. My husband makes a very good wage. And he is functional so he wouldn’t ever mess up his job. It’s too important to him. Our house will be paid off in 4 years so not all that much left to pay on it. And we have 80 acres of woods with the house, too. So in a divorce I would stand to end up with about $125,000 for him to pay me off. And he has a $200,000 401K which I would get half of.

    I still would RATHER he changed. He said he’d stop the women but wouldn’t go to counseling (my reassurance that he might change) OR quit drinking. In fact, I believe the drinking will be the end of us more than the women.

    There has been plenty of verbal abuse in the past as well as some episodes of physical abuse (hair pulling, spitting on me, shoving me to the floor).

    My sons, despite ALL of that are amazing young men. They have gone to youth groups and at least have me as an example of love even though their dad was a bad role model. He was a role model of how NOT to be. I am not worried about my sons, they will do well in the world.

    I have a very hard time making that final step to actually filing for divorce. I’m scared, I’m sad, I’m overwhelmed with life in general (school/work/husband issues/carting son to his activities). I’m getting very close to filing but it’s so hard.

    My question to you is how do I make that final step? Am I headed in the right direction? Well, in that I know I am. Will it take a hit in his pocketbook to make him finally change (our state is marital property 50/50). Plus married 27 years I’d probably get maintenance plus 2 years yet of child support.

    I guess Dr. Neill, I would just like your thoughts on my situation.

    Thanks,
    Lynne

  • Michelle

    I feel really stupid writing this. I have a master’s degree and a well-paid job. My first book is being published this year. Yet I just don’t know what to do about my alcoholic husband.

    We have been together for 17 years. When we met, he did not drink. I was 30, living a “Sex and the City” lifestyle of casual hook-ups, overseas trips, and lots of shopping. Falling in love with and moving in with him made an adult out of me.

    His alcoholism did not surface until after he was jailed for 5 years. (I think the sentence was very harsh). He saw some terrible things in prison, and nearly died due to careless medical treatment.

    I have since found out from friends that he was a heavy drinker long before I met him, as a teenager (even though he was a brilliant student), during his 8 years as a sailor, and after he left the sea. I happened to meet him during a period of sobriety.

    When he came out of prison, his drinking gradually escalated. He became addicted to the internet, and would stay glued to the computer for hours. He also became verbally abusive when drinking hard liquor. Fortunately, the lease to the apartment is in my name, so I could threaten to throw him out. Faced with being homeless, he stopped drinking hard liquor. I started standing up for myself and the verbal abuse stopped.

    Now, he kills 8 bottles of alcoholic cider (about 5% alcohol) or more each day. He drinks when he’s working because he hates his job. He drinks when he’s unemployed because he’s bored. He does not shower often enough. His sex drive is low. (When we do have sex, it’s very good.) I cannot keep a bottle of wine in the fridge for myself, because he’ll find it and drain it, then claim, “I only drank a tiny bit.”

    We rent a flat in a beautiful neighbourhood. I’m not sure I could afford it on my own. Also, in our city, landlords and real estate agents are mean. I dread the thought of dealing with them on my own, or looking for a flat in a city where housing is so scarce and expensive.

    He is also wonderful about taking care of the cats.

    How lame do my excuses sound? I’m now 47, and not the pretty, slim young woman I was when I met him, when I had my pick of men. I can’t imagine the humiliation of dating at my age. This sounds even lamer. I’m a feminist, and believe that no woman HAS to be paired off.

    I’ve developed my own life away from him with sports and interests that keep me fit. I travel on my own.

    I’m afraid of what will happen if I tell him to leave. He can be manipulative. I can just see him sleeping on the street to prove how hard done by he is.

  • Carey

    I am married to a man that drinks at least a six pack every night after work, and then maybe a 30 pack over the weekend. He usually stays home and drinks, but when he does go with his friends, he gets severely drunk and comes home and beats the hell out of me. The next day he always says he can’t remember, but I certainly do. I want a divorce, but I don’t have a job, looking for one, and he always threatens me that he will take me to court and take our daughter. I’m kinda trapped. Not sure what to do, please help.

  • Lynne

    Hi Again,

    I just wanted to add/clarify that my husband drinks 4-6″ ” PLUS beers a night. When he’s with friends or on the weekends he’s drinking way more than 4/6.

    Also all three of the women are drinkers. That’s the common denominator between them.

    So I’ve been living away from home at my Mom’s house with my youngest son for almost 6 months. And my husband isn’t changing one bit. He tries to talk to our son but our son wants nothing to do with him unless he “changes”. And for our son, a big change he wants is for him is to quit drinking.

    When I say quit drinking, we mean “completely”. My husband has said a few things to try to make it easier for himself like he’ll quit drinking at the house. In other words, he’ll still drink with friends and at bars, etc., just not at home. That won’t work. For one, he’ll still be tainted outside of the house and his judgement will be clouded which to me could mean more women. And then he’ll still be coming home drunk afterwards so what’s the difference? He has no problem driving drunk. In fact, he drinks WHILE he drives. Stupid. I suppose “in the car” would be considered not drinking at the home, too.

    He also said he’d stop drinking “for 2 years” while our youngest was still in high school to get him back in house. For 2 years. What? Then he’ll start again after that? Weird. And that won’t work for me. Then I’m just waiting around again.

    He said the stop drinking for 2 years comment before the stop drinking at the house comment. Maybe he’s realizing to quit completely would be hard.

    But that’s the sign we’re waiting for: COMPLETE sobriety.

    Another really huge issue with him is CONTROL. He’s got major control issues with us. And we’re sick of that, too.

    I hope you get this post, too, soon. And I hope you’ll get to response to me.

    I value your opinion.

    Thanks again,
    Lynne.

  • Rachael

    My husband too is an alcoholic. He provides well for us, always gets up and goes to work, but drinks a few beers every night on his way home from work. There have been so many arguments about non-sense. He has called me every name in the book when he goes on a binge, and once, just once he hit me. I got to the point of hitting him back straight in the face, but then I took my kids and left. I was so angry I knew I would fight, and come out on the losing end. I have sunk into a deep depression, where I have become short with almost everyone in my life, and had to take a leave of absence from work.

    Now, I have spent some time praying and I have chosen to no longer make it my problem. If he drinks, I say nothing, I go on with my life. Saying something only makes an alcoholic drink more. Our sex life has gone out the door, unless he is drinking, he has no interest. Of course when he is drunk, I give in because I have my needs, but I am ashamed that it has to be that way.

    Sense that night we got physical, he has slowed down a lot. He has not been to a bar sense, and allows himself only 2 or 3 drinks a night. He has been drunk twice, but he was out of town for work in the hotel. When he called I simply said goodnight and turned off my phone. The only way to cope is to realize it is not your problem.

    I know the Lord is the only way he will get better. I believe in marriage, but I believe in a marriage of peace. Until he chooses to live a different life for the Lord, things will always be difficult. There is hope though. To all of you, pray for your marriage and your husband. But understand it is a disease, go to AL non meetings if you can, that will help a lot. And if you are unwilling to live life day by day, then you must leave.

  • Diana

    Carey…..First of all if your husband is beating you he needs to be reported to the police. You may actually lose custody of your daughter for allowing her to be around this kind of abuse. Find a shelter for women to help you get on your feet. You can also file a protection order against him to keep you and your daughter safe.
    I was a Law Enforcement Officer for 8 years and told MANY women they deserved to be treated better than what was going on in their lives.

    My situation….I have a very high functioning alcoholic who doesn’t harm me physically, but there is emotional pain with being 2nd in line. How did I get here? His denial was and is so strong I rationalized what was happening. I’m reclaiming my life now. Don’t know if it will include him or not. But for you, safety is key. Please check with a women’s support group and get some help.

  • Lucy

    Dear Dr. Neill,
    I’ve just bought your book “Living with a functioning alcoholic”, and even before finishing it I can highly recommend it. I would really appreciate your comments on my story.

    My husband and I have been married for 14 years and we chose not to have kids. We met during our residency in medical oncology. We do not live in the USA, but he and his family are from a region in my country that would be the equivalent of New Orleans in US for its “festive” atmosphere.

    I feel so stupid that I could not see it before, but it took me all these years to finally see that my husband is a functioning alcoholic. Everybody in his family always drank excessively; they always associated alcohol with a “good time” and always considered non-drinkers as bores.

    They seemed a closely-knit family but as the years passed I could clearly see that both his parents and his younger brother are alcoholics. His sisters however chose not to drink at all. Aside for a compulsion for drinking the rest of the family shares a compulsion for eating. In fact he is the only sibling who has not yet been submitted to a gastric bypass surgery!

    During our marriage my husband progressively distanced himself from those family drinking patterns. He would pass weeks without drinking, would never miss an appointment because of drinking, or even consider drinking during a business lunch. He would go overboard for one day-at-a time when he got together with his friends once or twice a month. However, he would go on drinking binges whenever he traveled to see his family in another state. It seems like the only way he can be part of the family is through alcohol.

    We’ve been on this roller coaster for some time, but things were very good in the last couple of years. He went to therapy, and he was drinking less and less, which made him distance himself from his family.

    Last November his father was diagnosed with liver cancer and everything went downhill (and worse) from that point on. He’s been drinking heavily, and as he’s spending a lot more time with his family (as it should be), he’s been trying to block the reality of his father’s disease with alcohol and food. Now he‘s distanced himself from me, we argue all the time and he’s behaving like an angry teenager towards me (with sneering comments, impertinence, provocations).

    After all these years I feel very tired. I feel that alcohol, alcoholism and all this mess should not be my worries anymore, but I know that if I walk away now, I’ll be seen as the one who abandoned him at his father’s deathbed.

    I don’t think I have the strength to go back to square one anymore, and my body is telling me so. I’ve been getting herpetic ulcers on my lips; I’ve been constantly nauseated, vomiting and angry all the time.

    Please, help me!
    Thank you so much!

  • J.

    Hello,

    I’d like to know if a person that drinks excessively needs to quit drinking completely, or if it is possible to manage the drinking, creating limits, like drinking a certain amount of drinks per week. Is it possible? I think my husband is not an alcoholic yet, but the idea of quitting drinking forever might be too much for him. All his social lie revolves around that.

    Thank you,

  • Jo

    Thank you for this valuable informative site. I have been reading many sites for a few weeks now and find the honesty, courage, and truth immensely helpful.

    Yes, yes I too have been working hard to deal with the issues created when living with a high functioning alcoholic. I’m very close to leaving a 6 year relationship with a very nice person (well nice to everyone but me) learning here now.

    Cannot take the test, doesn’t open?

    Love, and strength to all here.

  • Toni's

    My husband drinks every night. In our two years of marriage he has gone from not drinking at all to drinking every night. In the last year the drinking as become more frequent and his tolerance has increased exponentially. However, I hadn’t noticed how frequently he drinks, nor had I recognized how much he was consuming until a few months ago.

    He works for his family’s company and usually gets sent to the larger job sites due to a higher pay scale. Consequently, the past year he has been working out of town and living in a hotel three to four nights a week. I started to notice his drinking had increased about three months ago. I had gotten home from work and he had polished off about four beers and a quarter pint of whiskey. It has come to the point that every weekend is the same: a case of beer and a bottle of whiskey. It’s generally gone by Sunday. In addition to this, he started bragging about how much he and the guy he rooms with drink every week. I have purchased him alcohol once or twice but haven’t since I noticed it becoming a problem.

    I have confronted him several times about his drinking becoming a problem and I get the same response every time… ‘it’s not a problem’. I let it go until the next weekend when I woke up to a bedroom that reeked of booze. So, I said something again and got the same response. So, I started dumping a beer down the drain for every beer he drank and started watering his whiskey down (since he claims he limits himself).

    Finally, last Thursday I snapped. He ruined something that was given to me to remember my uncle and I cried a little but wasn’t terribly upset. His reaction was getting black-out drunk among other things… The next morning I try waking him up and he wouldn’t move. That’s when WWIII started.

    I put my foot down and said no more. He wouldn’t hear it and told me he wouldn’t drink on the weekends but swears up and down he doesn’t have a problem. It’s been almost a full week and we haven’t stopped fighting. It got pretty bad Monday night and I jumped in my car and left. My dad calmed me down and urged me to stick it out until all avenues have been exhausted.

    So, I made an appointment with a psychologist to help guide me in this situation. Only, I am unsure if I should make him go with me or if I should talk to her on my own for the first session. The situation is a bit complicated as my husband had a horrible childhood. He has seen her before for that specifically but I don’t know what he admitted and what he didn’t. I also joined an Al-Anon support group this week and am hoping that can give me some relief from the stress.

    The only thing I really need some guidance on is the therapy appointment. Should I give the Dr. some background or should I take him to the first session and wing it?

  • jess

    I have been with my somewhat functioning alcoholic husband for three yrs. We jut recently got married. I am saddened to read all of these stories. It is very hard to live with an addict. I married my husband knowing that he was an active alcoholic.

    He has been in and out of rehabs and sobriety since the age of 15. I have watched him try and try again to maintain sobriety and watch him try to function after nights of heavy drinking. He is a hard working, kind man. Of course he struggles with selfish alcoholic behavior also. But the one thing that truly saddens me is that no one seems to take the vows they took seriously. Alcoholism is a sickness no different than cancer. Marriage is hard. Marriage to an alcoholic is harder. But, turning your back on someone that you took vows to love forever isn’t right.

  • Amanda aka hopeless

    This is the first time I am sharing my story with anyone… and it’s strangers. Embarrassed, you ask? Yes, extremely. I have been with my husband since we were 19 – we are 27 now. When I met him he was just getting out of treatment – should have been my first clue, right? Well, we were instantly connected, and in love. We moved in together in a matter of weeks. We have never been away from each other for more than a weekend, and now I am contemplating divorce.

    We had such fire and love for each other. We drank and partied and didn’t care what anyone thought. Well, I wanted to grow up and we got real jobs and moved away from the sinkhole city we were living in – thinking this will stop our drinking. Well, it stopped my drinking. My husband on the other hand is hiding gallons of Tequila, rum and drinking 12 beers at LEAST a night. We used to sit and talk all day and night – now we don’t say two words to each other, because he gets very upset and thinks I am trying to pick a fight with him.

    My husband goes to work and pays the bills on time every month. He is a functioning alcoholic to say the least. But I am miserable. I hate every moment that I am home with him. He is not abusive, but he is a miserable person. He hates everything and everyone. I am emotionally damaged and I thank GOD we don’t have kids. I am so lost. My husband tells me he is going to quit and will go to outpatient therapy. More empty promises. I am sick of fighting the lying and the hiding booze and the hurt I feel.

    I know in my heart this is not my fault, but it doesn’t mean I don’t forget it. He is manipulative and tells me it’s my fault. Well, I have decided to go to Al-anon (tonight is my first night- and I am scared) and I am going to take care of me. Maybe I will find some more strength to keep my marriage going. My heart goes out to everyone who has to live like this. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to live through.

  • Renee

    Wow!!!!! Now I feel like I’m not too alone. My husband’s drinking got worse after he retired from the army ( and getting worse by year). Every year it seem like a different stage of alcoholism enters into his life. For example: a few years ago he would drink a few beers after work and call it a day. Then last year he started having an alcoholic beverage with his beers (2 to 3 cans a day). This year he drinks on an empty stomach (3 to 6 beers a day) straight shots. Although in the pass he use to drink and mind his own business, now when he drinks he look for arguments to engage in.

    About 6 years ago, I use to get off work and shop, shop, and shop then go out to eat alone ( everyday) just because I didn’t want to come in until I was dead tired. I just didn’t want to see his drunk face (red devil eyes, slurred speech when he talks). I hated coming into my house because I knew he would be drunk. Now my credit cards have high balances ( I can’t shop anymore), so I had to stop. I went to get a second job just so my day can be used up, and when I get home I just want to fall out and get up for the next day.

    I never imagined my marriage would come to this, but I have no sexual vibe anymore all my passion has vanished. Just yesterday he started an argument with me over chicken and what I wanted to eat for dinner ( just one of his ways to start an argument). One of his very bad habits is not communicating. He loves to sweep things under the rug and never discuss them (this burns me up inside). He lies tremendously when we do talk because he doesn’t have a clear vision of what has taken place. So I just give him the whole conversation and say nothing at all. It makes no sense anyway because he’s loud and overbearing trying to over talk me. I’m just so fed up, it’s stressing me out.

  • Stephanie

    I, too, have a question… I know 100% my husband is an alcoholic. My father is as well as his mother so we both have experience. He admits he drinks a lot but since it doesn’t interfere with work, he doesn’t view it as a problem. He’s progressing from a silly, goofy drunk to a mean drunk as I classify it. The problem is, I am a stay at home wife (no kids yet) so he feels he deserves to get drunk on the weekends because he supports the household. I admit he doesn’t drink through the week unless he has the next day off but when he drinks, he can’t stop until he passes out or the beer is gone.

    He works faithfully but our marriage is suffering. He’s in the Army and a lot of the soldiers here are alcoholics as well. He also doesn’t realize, most of the guys he compares himself to are single so there are different standards in my opinion. He gets mean and hostile with me. No violence but I’m afraid if he doesn’t stop he may get there one day. I know we both have our own issues to work through but right now, alcohol is our biggest one. He actually said divorce is inevitable because he won’t stop drinking and he knows I’ll leave eventually.

    My question is: How do I get him to see he truly has a problem and that our marriage is worth getting help? I’m tired of walking on eggshells while he’s drinking, tired of having to give him a replay of the previous nights events, tired of feeling like it’s my fault and I’m tired of having to babysit my 28 year old husband.

  • 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! 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. Also, you may find his book, “Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide” as a great resource. You can find it here: http://drneillneill.com/

  • kimberly

    My husband drinks every single day. I have no idea how many beers he drinks a night; at least two. There is always beer. In fact, it’s a regular part of grocery shopping for us. He is a beer connoisseur and is always at tastings, etc. and frequents happy hours after work. He comes back from this things quite buzzed up.

    He goes to work every day and is not violent. Sometimes it seems he is happier and kinder when he does drink. He also habitually smokes marijuana.

  • ks

    I don’t know what to do. I have been married to my husband for 17 years. I knew that he drank when we dated, but I didn’t know that he would abuse it. Through out the 17 years he has came home drunk, been drunk with our kids around, drove drunk with our kids in the automobile, wrecked his company vehicle, ran up the company credit card at bars, called our kids very ugly names and said many many hateful things to me. There has been times that he doesn’t come home. He lies about where he has been. I left him twice just to come back.

    My marriage is like a circle. At the top of the circle he is good. He doesn’t drink. Then he brings it in one beer at a time, or buys a few for his ride home. By the time the circle is almost complete he is drinking everyday and has pulled a good one. Once he left our son in a burning vehicle. His behavior doesn’t surprise me. Our son now goes to a special school because of his anger. I blame that on his dad and all the name calling and absent time in his life.

    Just this past Mother’s Day he did not come home. He texted me and told me that he was at work. I have grown use to his lies and know when he lies. The next day he came home but I didn’t. I stayed with my dad. He says every time that he is done with beer. He swears that he will not drink again….. I so don’t believe him any more. I do love him but am not in love anymore. At one point in time I was crazy for him. Now I feel like I am crazy to be with him. He has robbed me of love, robbed my children of a normal childhood.

    I have recently moved into the spare room. He thinks that it is dumb. All I know is that it makes me feel better. I can sleep without having beer breath blown in my face. I just feel like the world has come off of my shoulders. Is it wrong for me to move into the spare room? Husband says that it is just making the situation worse. Starting Monday I will be attending Al-Anon meetings. Of course like always, he has promised not to drink again. He won’t go to AA. He says it is just a bunch of men that whine. I am just so confused on what to do. Please someone, help me.

  • Belen

    Hello,
    My fiancee told me he used to have a drinking problem when we met. But while we were dating he stopped drinking. But a few months ago he started drinking again, and would go on binges whenever I would do something that hurt him. I have lied to him about my past and he said that my lying makes him drink. I feel very guilty that I have caused him to relapse. What can I do?

  • Hello,

    My husband and I have been married for almost ten years. We have four children and one on the way (due in October, surprise baby!). He drinks every evening beginning around 5:00 pm and will drink till he passes out usually around 12 or 1 am. He is a very successful self employed contractor who has no trouble getting up in the morning to go to work after drinking all night. He is afraid of a DUI therefore he will not drink and drive (thank you Jesus!). But, because he has to drink I am responsible for driving all of our kids and him everywhere! Our children are 15, 14, 9, and 6. The 14 year old is actually my step-son and only stays with us part time. But my mother in law or I am responsible for picking him up, dropping him off, and taking him to ball.

    My other three are girls. My husband has a mindset that because the others are girls, the majority of the responsibility is mine. By the way, did I mention the one I am carrying is a girl too? This gives him the okay to drink because I should be taking care of the “girls”.

    I am a full time employee who works 9-10hrs daily, then does the picking up from babysitters, driving to ball practice, voice lessons, friends house, pool, dentist, doctor……you get my drift. AND, doing all the household work, paying bills, and doing homework with kids. He usually goes next door to visit with my brother (whom he downs constantly when he’s not with him), or sits on the back porch on the phone with his friends while he drinks. When I cook dinner, the kids and I usually eat by ourselves or he comes in and eats quickly then back out the door.

    My children are old enough that they recognize what is going on and all of them, including my six year old, call him on it (of their own free will!). If we argue he starts talking to the kids about me and what I should or shouldn’t be doing, while they normally ignore him because they can’t understand him for the slurring. This really hurts me because I hate for my children to hear the things he says such as how I don’t care about anybody but myself, I am a terrible housekeeper, I don’t handle the children well enough, how my family are all low life’s, etc. In my mind I see these remarks for what they are, just a drunk man blowing smoke because he can’t get his way. But in my heart I am screaming because it hurts so bad!

    We have so many arguments about the kids because he tends to let them do whatever they want to do when he is drinking, regardless of what I say. Of course kids being kids, they take full advantage of this! I wind up being the bad guy for everything! Even stupid things like telling him NOT to use the special $20.00 bottle of shampoo for a bubble bath for the girls, turns me into a monster who only cares about herself. My children see me as “mean”.

    I dearly love my husband and want to be with him; especially now that we have a baby on the way. He is a great provider and father when he isn’t drinking. I have gotten to the point where I will put the kids to bed and then go to bed myself without even talking to him. We rarely have relations and when we do its a quickie in the morning before work, which I don’t get anything out of. I am to the point where I refuse to clean up his beer bottles/cans/cigarette butts, I refuse to take him to the store or to go for him, I ignore him when he talks to me, I walk out of the room if he comes in. I know that this is not the correct way to deal with it but I honestly don’t know what to do anymore.

    For years I did everything he asked, kept the house in perfect condition, paced while he was out with friends, fed his friends and picked up after them when they decided to stay at our house, etc. Now I am at my wits end! He thinks that because he is successful in his business and he only drinks in the evening that he doesn’t have a problem. Other times he admits he does and that he is going to quit on XXX day, but of course something happens and it turns out not to be a good day for quitting.

    To begin with it was like I was living with two different men, the drunk man who overall was a kind if somewhat sloppy person, and the sober man who told me how much he loved me, was attracted to me, appreciated me, etc. Now the drunk man is still the same with the kids but verbally attacks me if I get irritated at his slurring, stumbling around spilling beer and burning holes in the carpet, and the sober one is always angry at me for something! I am so lonely……………..

    What do I do?

  • Lu

    Dr. Neill is very happy to be able to provide this forum! He cannot give public advice. But, he does have his book “Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide.” Which can be found here: http://www.drneillneill.com. Also, he is available for private consultations via phone: http://www.neillneill.com/consultations.

  • Babs Sullivan

    I’ve known for years my husband is a functioning alcoholic; though last night it got BAD. I go to Al Anon. I work on not engaging him or getting drawn into his sickness but last night he started yelling because I changed the channel (while he was at the store, buying beer of course.) I told the kids to go upstairs (son nine and daughter six). He refused to let them leave, yelling, “NO!” Then he said my daughter could go but not my son. I did not want to put my son in the middle but I felt I could not go upstairs with just my daughter, the message clearly being “boys vs girls.” I can have my daughter but don’t take HIS son…”

    I finally got my son to go into the laundry room; he was so confused and I know felt like he was being forced to “choose sides.” I have always been close to my son but I fear losing him to my husband. He is intimidated by my husband. My husband is not physically abusive but he yells. I plan to tell my son that it is not about choosing one parent over the other but rather when his father is yelling and cursing, we need to leave. He does not get to have us there to be his targets. I know it’s a disease. I know love the person not the disease but I hate him so much right now.

  • ANNA

    I’m 23, my husband will be 40 this year. I’m Russian, he’s American. We met when I was in school in USA. We’ve been married for 2 years now. I’m always stressed and depressed, very nervous all the time. He doesn’t let me go out with my friends, more than that he doesn’t like my friends and say that they are bad influences. He drinks at least 12 beers a night, every night. He works for a beer company which doesn’t help.

    He’s an awesome person when he’s sober. But I don’t see him sober very often. As soon as he gets home he opens a beer, than another and another one… He verbally abuse me very often. The next morning he acts like he doesn’t remember anything. I tried taking him to the doctor, different pills etc. Nothing works. He doesn’t want to go to AA meeting because “HE doesn’t have a problem”. I feel like I’m wasting my best years of life for him. I love him, but I can’t stand his addiction anymore. What would be the best thing for me? Small part of me still hoping that there is a way to make him quit drinking.

  • Claudia

    Hi. My alcoholic husband and I have separated. It has now been a couple of months, and I was so relieved to start off with–until he kind of vanished and stopped all payments. Obviously I am very worried about the finances and also I get very mad at times. I cannot vent though since he is not speaking, no contact. I do not even know where he is living right now.

    Is this a sign of alcoholism, to just vanish and get himself out of all responsibility for the children?

    Why is he still kind of controlling my life now that I have finally found my freedom and can start living? How should I react, what can I do?

    Thanks!

  • Jenn

    I drove 1,826 miles in two days by myself and left my husband. I have been living in denial for almost two years because I didn’t want to believe my sober, kind, hard working, thoughtful husband is really the drunk, lazy, thoughtless, abusive man he had become. I have been making excuses for his drinking because I wanted to believe that I was the cause of his violent outbursts when he is drunk. He has promised to stop drinking liquor. He has promised to stop altogether. He just cannot.

    Just like the article… in the beginning, we had a great time together, but as time has progressed, I have found I have given up everything that was important to me to be in this marriage. I allowed myself to be isolated. I allowed myself to hide abusive behavior that was occurring between us from my family and friends. I moved across the country to be with him. Because of the instability, I began and quit two jobs in three months, cried myself sick, lied to his family, my family, and ultimately have watched my marriage be destroyed before my eyes.

    My latest employers had a party at their home this past Friday, and my husband ignored my pleads to not drink shots. He drank himself into an angry, abusive blackout. These were my employers, and this is how he acted. I coaxed him out of their house, hours after others had left, and I tried to get us home safely. I had been drinking wine, and then water for about an hour before we left. His verbal abuse, and my confusion of directions led me to lash out at him, and before I knew it, he had me in a headlock pounding the side of my head with his fist. At one point, he had my arm twisted behind my back, with me pleading to stop that he was going to break it, but this only made him push harder. Drunk him wanted to snap my arm. Somehow, he didn’t break it, but he broke my heart.

    This isn’t the first time, but it will be the last. He blames me, and I am completely taking responsibility for my part. That is why I left. I got in the car, and I left. He didn’t think I would because I have threatened for three months. We are still newlyweds. We even had domestic abuse on our honeymoon due to Patron shots.

    Being in this relationship/marriage has become out of control. I don’t want to play the victim card, and I am embarrassed to be posting on this site, but I need to know leaving was the right thing to do. I gave up my career, my family, my friends… everything to be with this man, but he cannot give up one thing for me. I have learned I am codependent, and I have even thought about admitting myself into a rehab program to recover from this. I have completely lost my identity and way.

    I am back home now (on the East Coast), and he has made threats of divorce and accusations that I am mentally unstable because of the behavior I exhibited while with him on the West Coast. Every time I felt like I could get on my feet there, a drunk episode would knock me down and break my spirits. I was living a lie every single day, and I didn’t want to face my employers, my family or friends. I didn’t want to make friends because when I did meet people, they would ask me if he had a drinking problem or if he was abusive. It embarrassed me.

    I asked him before I left if he “wants to stop drinking.” He said, “No, not really.” That was my answer. He doesn’t remember the abuse, so to him it never happened. I find myself romanticizing the good times, and I have to remember I left for a reason. He says I provoke him, so now I am out of the picture. I am willing to bet he will have another episode on his own. Oh, and he goes to court Monday for his second DUI. I am applying the 12 step program to myself to try to begin healing. I am realizing a lot about myself. I did the right thing by leaving. Right?

  • K

    To all the women who have children and remain in a relationship with an alcoholic – the damage you’re doing to your children is terrible. I know, my boyfriend is the son of an alcoholic, verbally abusive man. My boyfriend has terrible self esteem, self loathing, depression, and his own problems with alcohol. I love him but I find all of this so hard.
    In addition, he finds it very hard to open up emotionally, to love and be loved, and a lot of this stems from the rejection he received from his father as a child. He effectively grew up with a poor role model and so he struggles to know how to be in a loving, stable relationship.

    I can honestly say that if I met his father, I would have nothing to say to him. The damage is irreversible. If you have children, and there is a way you can get out – please do it, for their sake and for the sake of their future family:

  • Jane

    I am not sure where to begin. I know that my “marriage” (it really isn’t a marriage – at least not the one I thought we would have!) is in trouble and I also know that I am desperately unhappy and very angry at him for what he is doing. I do a pretty good job at hiding it – I don’t want anyone I work with to know. My husband drinks every day and drinks a lot. It used to be mostly beer (a 30 pack in one night is nothing for him on the weekend!), but lately vodka (expensive vodka!) has become the drink of choice. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve spent an entire weekend watching him get drunk — by himself! I would really like to leave, but like so many women here, I feel like I am struck. I have a decent job and our kids are teenagers, but I still feel trapped. I can say that I truly hate him when he drinks — this (among other things) is why I know I must leave — I cannnot possibly change him but I cannot tolerate his behavior either. I refust to buy him alcohol, but I admit that i have poured a couple of bottles out simply becuase I cannot take it anymore. Anyone got any words of advice? The situation at my job is very stressful at the moment and the weekend is the only time I have to relax — unfortunately that doens’t happen too often as he drinks every weekend and I (again like a lot of women here) spend the days effectively alone. He told me that I met him in a bar, what did I expect? I told him I expected him to respect our wedding vows….remember the one that goes “love, HONOR, CHERISH”?????? I am not perfect – but I try to be a good person. I am about at the end of my rope!

  • Teresa

    My husband drinks a six pack just about every night.. He says it helps him relax and sleep. He falls asleep on the couch every night and comes to bed sometime after midnight. Do you think he is beginning to have a drinking problem?

  • laura

    Hi. I met my fiancee over the internet in May of last year. We had an instant connection and soon fell in love. He has been my best friend ever since, and I am so in love with him. I knew he had a drinking issue because even at a distance, he became very emotional and often angry while drinking, which caused fights between us. Still, I loved him with all my heart and felt I would be throwing away possibly the greatest love of my life if I did not give him a chance. He said that he knew he needed to drink less; he was so stressed from being apart from me and the issues with the mother of his kids, that once he moved to be with me, he would stop the drinking. After a few months, he moved here to be with me and take a job that I had gotten him through a friend of mine. His goal was to save money and bring his two babies here to live with us and for us to get married. We were both just ecstatic in the beginning . . . however, within a week he was drinking. When I became upset about it, he said he was stressing over his babies (which is true) and missing them, but that he would stop drinking as soon as things got better….

    I found out that he had lost many relationships and jobs in the past due to drinking, and had been to rehab unsuccessfully.

    Skip a couple of months further in time; he got the horrible news that his children were killed in a fire due to their irresponsible mother. That was a horrible, horrible time. Horrible. He was devastated and inconsolable. I was so afraid of him trying to kill himself, that I moved in with him so that I could take care of him and make sure he was safe. He was trying to drink himself to death, and even said as much. I tried everything to help him, but most of the time he didn’t want anything to do with me and would not be touched. Anything said to him in order to comfort was met with anger. Knowing that the pain was torturous for him, I just prayed and prayed and tried to comfort when he reached for it. My nights were spent crying myself to sleep because not only was he rejecting me completely, but was drinking constantly; telling me he wanted to drink himself to death, that he wanted to die, so he could be with them. Then he would say awful things to me and treat me with contempt. This went on for such a long time. He said he wanted to see them and if it hurt me that he wanted to die and be with them instead of me, he was sorry, but he didn’t care.

    And still, I kept loving him. I kept caring for him, making sure he ate. I got him a kitten, hoping it would comfort him and give him something to love and touch when he wouldn’t touch me. I held him over and over as he cried, every single night for months on end. I picked him up every time he fell, I cleaned up his messes; he peed on my feet he was so drunk. I cleaned up when he got sick. Each night, he told me he couldn’t stand for me to touch him because he wanted to feel his little girl’s feet on his chest, the way she used to sleep. He would sit for days, barely speaking to me or looking at me; definitely not touching me. A month or two after their death, he suddenly went off on me and verbally attacked me. He said horrible, horrible unprovoked things and had me crying on my knees from how bad they hurt, then slammed the bedroom door and went and slept on the couch. The next day he was so contrite and begged my forgiveness. I, of course did, knowing how horrible the pain must be he was feeling. Knowing he loved me, knowing the drinking and pain together caused his action. I repeatedly tried to get him to get grief counseling and eventually found him someone who came to the house and talked to him. It seemed to comfort him some, but he never called her again.

    A week or two after the first incident, it happened again. He just out of nowhere started verbally abusing me, yelling terrible things at me, calling me fat, calling me useless. This time I nearly left, but again told myself he needed help. That I couldn’t desert him in his overwhelming pain and suffering. The problem was that I had overwhelming pain and suffering as well. I felt his pain and felt my own pain on top of it. I did little things to try and boost his mood; comfort, soothe him. Somewhere along the way, there was another fight and my pain was so great I almost struck him. I was scared after that, how easily it could have turned physical, and vowed to leave him. But once I sat down and talked with him, he promised to try and stop drinking and get more help. I couldn’t find it in me to abandon him.

    All during the time after the loss of the babies, his family (mother, sister, brother) constantly would tell him, “Just come home. We’ll take care of you.” Constantly. I lived in fear that he would just desert me and go because he did miss them so much and said over and over he wanted to go back. They didn’t care that he would be leaving the one woman who would have loved him more than any other and been good for him. They just kept telling him to come home and run away.

    After that last fight, his commitment to not letting it happen again seemed to work. He did not stop drinking longer than a week, but he never again blew up at me like that. Over the last year or so, he has improved a good bit. We are able to have fun together again, we make each other laugh, we love so many of the same things.

    Still the drinking continues. He wanted to wait a year before going out again after the babies’ death. Just short of the year, we were invited to see some friends of mine in a band play. He started drinking early in the day and by the time we were picked up to go see my friends, he was drunk. Upon arriving, he fell out of the truck and I had to hold on to him to walk to the entrance. The bouncer at the door immediately assessed him and told him he couldn’t come in. My friend that had driven us and I walked him off to the side and decided the best thing would be to let them go on in and for my fiancee and I to go get some coffee and try and sober him up. He got a bit belligerent and told me to just go inside and leave him alone. I of course knew better, I did not want him outside causing some kind of trouble, so I managed to get him to go with me to the truck and get inside. He then started being a jerk and told me to just go and let him sleep it off, so I did. Then shortly after, he began sending mean texts to me. I came back and talked him into walking a short distance to a place to get some food and coffee. That night was very humiliating.

    Another time, my girlfriend came from out of state so we could go with a group of friends to see some fireworks. He spent all morning drinking and by the time it came to go, he was drunk and humiliated me in front of her. I made him drink some caffeine and felt he was OK to come along. We managed to get through that night OK, but not without embarrassment.

    I have already made this far to long so let me get to the point. Over the last few months, his drinking has become just unbearable. He fluctuates between angry behavior, affection, and crying as he drinks. He stumbles around, he says and does things he doesn’t even remember, and takes me on his roller-coaster ride of emotion with him every single day. Sometimes he begs me to help him with the drinking because he doesn’t want to be this way, he looks me in the eyes and begs me. He says he is scared because he doesn’t remember blocks of time. He says tomorrow is the day I stop drinking! And then comes home with beer and says nothing about what he has said the night before. As for me, I am dying, or nearly dead already inside. When he is not drinking, he barely touches me. There is no intimacy or sex, and try as I might, I can’t help feeling rejected, unwanted and unattractive. When he is drunk he is incredibly affectionate and loving, usually.

    At any rate, this past weekend he cheated on me while drinking, and I confronted him. At first he was incredibly apologetic, admitted that it was his drinking causing his behavior and vowed to do anything to fix it and fix our relationship. He still wanted to drink some “one last time” and did. Before we went to sleep that night, I asked him once more if he still meant to do the things he said he would. He immediately became angry and snapped at me. He said I made him feel bad and he was tired of it. He jumped up and threw his pillow hard at me and slammed the door. I was overcome with hurt and anger and betrayal and went after him asking him how he could dare talk to me that way after what he did. He said some awful things then said he would $%^^ her again. I lost it and reacted primal and scratched at him like a wildcat. He jumped up so fast, chased me, and backhanded me as hard as he could across my face. I immediately called my friend to come and get me out of there and left.

    Now I am back, having had him swear to stop drinking immediately and get counseling. I am now two days back and he has not drunk anything but says he is having withdrawal and is in a rotten mood, barely speaking, not touching, whining about not having a drink. We have no car and very little options around here, and no money. Is there any hope for us? Right now I don’t think there is. I don’t think he will go much longer without a drink and I do not believe he will spend one minute searching online or anywhere else for someone or something to help him. I am afraid to even bring it up today with the mood he is in….not afraid of him hitting me, but afraid of any confrontation at all because I don’t feel I can take it. I am so emotionally fragile. I need his comfort and he is unable to give it to me. Is there hope that he will do something?

  • Lee

    I have been with my partner for 4 years. He is 9 years younger than me. I am 35 and have twin boys from a previous relationship. They are 10 and we have a baby daughter who is 10 months old. When we first started seeing each other we drank lots. He was obviously much younger, so he drank and smoked marijuana a lot. I knew back then that he did them both in excess, but still fell in love with him; he is a beautiful person.
    But along the way, we have really struggled with fighting over the drugs and alcohol. He smokes from the moment he gets up into the night, when home, and drinks every day. I feel like he is never straight; the arguing has escalated and he has punched walls in and pulled me by my hair. My older children are over the arguing but, are still oblivious to why we are fighting. I have threatened to leave many times. He keeps telling me I am the problem because I am so controlling, which I am sure has come about from his substance abuse. He holds down a full time job and that to him is why he doesn’t have a problem. He has gastritis and many stomach problems and its really hard watching him damage his body like this.

    A few days ago I went to an Ala-non meeting and told him I wanted to split, that I loved him but the alcohol and drug abuse is ruining our family. He has left, which he has never done before, and moved into a new house. I am still so sad. I have tried to make him see reasoning but, I know you can not reason with an alcoholic. I know I have made the right decision but, wish he could see what he is doing. Is there anything else I can do??
    He blames me and says its all my fault because I don’t accept him for who he is and I am trying to change him. He hates me for taking his daughter away from him. I am feeling really lost. I just couldn’t detach from the environment at home and felt the only option was to break up. His parents blame themselves but, they are big enablers, as his mum is always giving him money for whatever lies he tells her to be able to purchase his alcohol.

  • Helene

    I went through it all; begging, pleading, getting angry, codependency, crying, giving in, depression, denial, being self destructive . . . all because of being married to an alcoholic for almost 30 years. All of the feelings described in the previous comments, I had also. The worst I felt was the thought that it was me, that I had to be better, prettier, sexier, cozier, more patient and understanding, more of a support. My heart got broken every single night of my marriage and for the first 20 years or so, I got up in the morning, thinking that tonight would be better. I kept on having hope. That same hope slowly killed me.

    Now I am still sad and so hurt, but there is nothing I can do to change this situation. I cannot leave because I have a severely disabled son, it is too hard to start all over in another place. He is just not able to move and my husband would never leave as he is trying to lean heavily on me to survive. It is sad for him though that I refuse to carry him anymore.

    For years I used to think that a good wife would please her husband no matter what, now I realize that I am worthy of a lot more than sleeping with a man who is drunk. I am busy with hobbies and am making sure that everyday there is something nice to look forward to for my son and I. I try to eat healthy and take good care of myself. I have lots of friends who know my situation and who support me and are there for my son and me when needed. I do not allow myself to feel low because his drinking is out of my control, his healing is too. I did not cause his drinking, therefore I cannot solve it. I keep my house clean and cozy and keep the door open for friends, and I do not hide the fact that he is drunk, I just ignore it and let him babble. No excuses for him, I stopped protecting him.

    He is a sad and very lonesome man who gets drunk every night. I try to control my resentment for him and keep looking for positive things. I let him be, but offer my help, which he never wants, so I move on.

    I used to scream to the walls out of pure helplessness, worry, and agony. Now I am just calm and live my life as good and nice as possible. I refuse for my heart to get bitter, I would rather go outside and listen to the song of a mockingbird. My life is my choice, he will not control me anymore.

    I am a good wife; I cook and clean, do the laundry, and mostly take care of my dear son. I do this for him too without resentment because I do it with the pride I have within me. I learned my limits though and refuse to sleep with a drunk.

    Yes, I am married to an alcoholic, yes I have the hardest time loving him, yes I am sad a lot, yes my life is not easy, yes I deserve better, but don’t we all?

    When the time comes that my son does not need me anymore, I will leave and feel good about trying hard to be the best I could have been in dire circumstances.

  • Allison

    My husband of eight years is a functioning alcoholic. He’s a musician/creative etc., but he is very depressed and on antidepressants. The drinking just makes it all worse. He picks up 36 cans of Keystone Light (according to my daughter, his stepdaughter) every Friday night and just drinks and drinks until he passes out. He recently left our home because all we did was fight about it. He had taken me out to dinner for my birthday and didn’t tell me he was drunk and he drove. I didn’t find out about it until during dinner when he started wanting to steal things from the table! His family enables him. He left the home and ran to his parent’s house who have since been paying for everything. His mother never liked me so I’m sure she thinks I’m the reason.

    I’ve been trying to fix our marriage for months through counseling, but it is unraveling. He does say he will not drink in front of our children (we have seven year old twins together) when they visit his “seedy” apartment. Good God, is this my life?!?!? But I don’t trust him. My life is raveling out of control. I don’t want him back if he is going to continue to act this way and deny he has a problem.

  • Wendy

    I have been married two weeks and my husband was cuffed and drug to jail last night because of alcohol. He went from a quart of whiskey and 18 beers a night, a year earlier, to 6 beers a night. Last night he got a hold of Hurricane Malt Liquor and it made him verbally abusive to the kids and me, just like whiskey made him.
    I am going to try to get him into rehab. He asked me before to do this, but nobody took us serious. The police officer told me of a state-funded rehab center.

  • applevalley

    I can’t take it anymore; he is such an abusive, rotten, vodka alcoholic. He stopped for a time, enough for me to believe him. I bought a condo with him. I have the mortgage in my name and the measly $150 he gives me will take the edge off the bills, so I kinda need him here. I’m so tired of putting up with it, and shutting up, and working hard, and getting zero in return, and wasting my life again and again. I HAVE to get out of this. I am ready not to care what happens with my credit………..I simply can’t take it! He has already been through ALL the channels of help, NONE of it works…NONE.. He has to do it himself and simply won’t. This totally sucks.

  • Michelle

    I have been with my husband for 18 years and he loves alcohol. It is/was all something new to me as my parents did not drink much. My husband’s big excuse is the same as his mother’s (also a functioning alcoholic who loves her scotch). The big excuse is, “Oh I’ve got a migraine from something I ate.” I’ve been such a dutiful wife protecting him that now its all gotten so bad as his condition is turning nasty, no one believes me. I feel so gutted and depleted now. I see him as a looser.

    He is playing the victim big time just because the recession took our jobs and house. He can not recover and is wallowing in it and I can not pull him out. I realize now he is actually happy in this place, but sadly he has pulled me under too. I feel 1/2 the person I am… I am trying to reestablish myself. I am trying to get it together for the sake of our 6 year old. He’s been drunk so much, having a 2nd child has not happened much to my great sadness. I believe with everything in me he destroys his sperm count with drinking. Today was the 1st time ever he has taken our boy to the park on his own. I have done it all up to now. I just want out while I still can. Thank you for this site and for the women who have posted, it has been a God send for me tonight.

  • Jennifer

    This is the first time I’ve heard “functioning” alcoholic. That perfectly describes my husband and his mother. I could never say he was an alcoholic because he never misses work. He is so helpful around the house; laundry, cleans the kitchen every morning and night, does all the grocery shopping, pays all the bills, and he’s pleasant to be around. BUT every night my husband drinks like a fish. He starts the moment he gets home and doesn’t stop until bedtime. I have now noticed he stays up later and drinks more!

    I have wine that is mine. It stays in the house for a long time because I’m not that big of a drinker, but when I’d like glass, it’s never there because he always drinks it. He combs through the fridge looking for more.

    What I really hate is when his speech gets slurred and he gets all misty. I’m really tired of the excuses; “It’s my Friday”, “It helps me clean”, ” I’ve had a long day”, and the list goes on and on. I feel this really robs him of a full life. He just comes home and drinks all night, never wants to go anywhere, and I have been letting this stop me from having a life. I told myself I can’t wait for him anymore. If there’s somewhere I want to go, then I’ll drive up the coast for the weekend alone. He wants to have a child, but until he stops his excessive drinking, he can forget that.

    I got mad at him two days ago because once again, he drank a wine I had saved for myself. This morning, I found he drank my wine again. He knows the wrath this causes, but must have been in great need. Now I see he is worse than I thought. He is a sweet man and I wish he could have the full life we both deserve.

  • Jean

    I don’t know if anyone reads these. I hope so because I have no where else to go for help.

    I know my husband is a functioning alcoholic. We have known each other for 18 years. We have been married for 4 years. We have a 10 year old and a 3 year old. I’m 28 and he is 30. His father is an alcoholic and I see a lot of similarities with my husband and his dad.

    My husband drinks up to 4 times a week (it would be more if I didn’t gripe as much as I do about it). He knows I do not like him drunk. He is not allowed to sleep in our bed when he drinks because I cannot stand the smell and he knows this. Who wants to have sex with a smelly drunk? He chooses alcohol over me and I can’t stand feeling hurt anymore. I cannot stand the way he changes, even after 1 beer, I can see the difference-he walks different, talks different and looks different. He only plays with the kids when he’s drinking. He gets angry and calls me names when he’s drinking. When he is drinking, he neglects me, and when he is not drinking he neglects me even more. By neglect I mean no sex, he only wants to watch TV, he has nothing to say to me, and doesn’t want to do anything with me; emotionally detached.

    I am not an awful wife. I work full time, I take excellent care of our kids, I do all the cleaning and house work. He only does work around the house if he has a beer. The distance between us is killing me. We used to have a very romantic relationship, we were very close and have always loved each other. I know he has no self confidence, or very little. I can tell by how he carries himself and how he acts and I have never liked that. I have tried to help him, but it does no good. He goes to work and makes good money, his drinking has never interfered with his job. He has fallen asleep watching our baby on several occasions and always says he won’t drink anymore, but he is still drinking. He was hiding alcohol from me, I wouldn’t doubt it if he still is. I found empty vodka bottles and shooter bottles hidden in the garage, and he tries to act like he’s not drinking-he sneaks it.

    Our relationship is in shambles and last night I tried talking to him again about all this, he got mad and blamed me, then he apologized. The second he got off work, he went to the liquor store and brought home beer and he drank it. Once again, he chose the alcohol over me. He acted very weird last night before he went to the liquor store-like he was in some kind of frenzy to get that beer. He has been physically abusive on a few occasions, but not since August. Even when he is not drinking, he is so angry. He has an angry pissed off look on his face all the time. He is always putting me and the kids down and waits for any chance to yell at one of us and tell us we’re wrong. At what point do you quit trying and just leave?

  • Christy

    I’m married to a functioning alcoholic….there, I said it. I haven’t been in denial, I just thought I could “fix” it myself or live with it or it would go away or it would get better, but I’ve always know it was there….. I struggle with my own conscience every time I enabled him. We have definitely slipped into this codependency.

    He is a professional and seems to control his alcoholism to the public, but it’s the down time and when he’s extremely stressed when he consumes A LOT and I mean, A LOT of alcohol. This is every single night….almost straight vodka on ice (how can that possibly taste good?). I can see how it is changing his body and recently his behavior when he’s drunk (he’s becoming more critical and controversial). It’s aging him, it makes him look so unhealthy….the physical effects worry me so, as I know, some can’t be reversed.

    My life is extremely lonely, but sadly, I think this is all I know. He has been drinking since the very beginning….. I accepted and married him this way. I am not a nag and I don’t threaten…..I live this way and my life consists of taking care of him – before, during, and after his drinking. We have had a couple serious discussions regarding how our life is and I’m honest about my feelings regarding how lonely I am without him. I never straight up say, “It’s the alcohol” because he knows.

    At first he had a plan to scale down……it worked for a short while, but before long, he was right back where he started. Now, for some reason out of the blue he has decided to get help. He has been sober for almost 3 days and has attended 2 local AA meetings. I am so very very proud of him and not even THAT surprised as he is an extremely resourceful and intelligent man who can do ANYTHING he sets his mind to.

    So this is where it brings me……I am not mad or angry about his drinking, I’m scared beyond words. I am at a total loss. All I know how to do is to enable him, I have no clue how to help him. I do not understand any of this! I am smart enough to know there must be habits and triggers that I can help with, but then again, maybe there is nothing I can do to help. I’m a “fixer” by nature and he is the center of my world. So that puts me in a place where I’m lost and alone in a world that I don’t understand.

    He needs help and now he’s willing and going to get it…..so here’s my admission, I need help!

  • Kristi

    Jean,

    I want to cry when I read your letter. I am so exactly where you are right now. Every ounce of my being tells me life would be easier without him. I am bitter and hurt that I have been 2nd to alcohol for so long.

  • Beth

    I’m Beth and I live with an alcoholic. Their priorities are: beer, beer, and more beer. They then live in their delusional world where nothing is their fault. You sit and watch them suck down beer after beer. Their “drug buddies” call and they get defensive if you ask who they are talking to and telling you not to get jealous, but God forbid anyone call you. You are held to a different set of standards and forget about out having a nice future. It’s all going down the toilet.

    I want out and he throws pot in my face, secretly happy that I don’t have the power to say, “No” yet. God knows what else is going into his body. He loves the loritabs and will lie about taking them even if I know he is on them…talk about confrontational. He is too wasted to listen to anything that he can’t come back and throw in your face. I have devolved into someone I don’t even know. If I want him out of the house, I will have to take legal action.

  • Michelle

    My husband is a wonderful, loving person with significant past damage. His mother died when he was 11 years old, and the father he knew was an alcoholic. He was raised by his sister whose husband was physically abusive. He has made some poor choices in his life and has had aftermaths of alcohol throughout (multiple DUI’s), living at the bar for many years. We’ve been married for a little over 2 years now.

    Since we have been married, he tries his very hardest to be his best for us. He does not go to the bar at all, but he does drink in excess about once per week and does drink on a daily basis. He drinks everyday on his way home from work (while driving) to “chill out” and then has 3 or so more beers when he gets home. He has stopped drinking liquor for the most part, which makes him very mean. He gets drunk quickly. He does not have a high tolerance for alcohol at all. Even though I see the signs of him being drunk, he does not feel them himself (he says) and continues to drink until he passes out. Before he passes out, he becomes either over the top happy obnoxious (superficially affectionate and embarrassing) or mean and critical and says very hurtful things to me. The next day after he wakes up from this, he is moody and hard to be around. He is very short with my kids and if it’s the weekend, he will do it again that night. It’s hard to live with.

    My husband has grown children who live out of state and I have 2 younger children who live with us. He feels a lot of guilt when he feels out of touch with his children and feels a lot of guilt for choosing to leave them. When he drinks and gets drunk, he sends them messages that blame them for not contacting him, rather than saying I love you and I miss you. He further distances them from him. I feel exhausted, depressed, and have a lot of anxiety when I can see he is getting buzzed. I never know what to expect or what will happen. He has many times gotten mentally and verbally abusive when he is drunk. He never apologizes or tells me he didn’t mean what he said. When he is not drunk, he is usually a wonderful person to me and my children. My children love him very much.

    I grew up with an abusive mother and a alcoholic step dad. I feel like I’ve recreated my own childhood in one person. I am not at a point where I am ready to leave. He is very good to my children and never misbehaves around them. I want to exhaust all options before I consider that. However, I worry about my health and ability to carry on. I am seeing a therapist and my husband and I also just started therapy. I have gone to AA meetings in the past and I believe I am going to begin going to those as well. I am planning to get on some antidepressants and increase the amount I exercise in order to manage my life better. I am taking the approach that I can only change me, and take care of myself–I can’t save him or help him anymore than I already have. I know when I’ve had enough I will leave, I just hope that it doesn’t have to get to that point. I am scared to be hurt, hurt him and put my children through another divorce.

  • Corinne

    From the article I have read, my husband is an alcoholic. Unfortunately, he is able to get up and go to work He works hard. He’s is a journalist, so some of his working life involves lunches, supers, drinking, receptions, etc. When he gets home he can easily drink 2/3 bottles of red and though staggers to the bathroom, manages to get up on the dot and away.

    My life is lonely and deprived of any normal loving and affection. I approach him often and he is always going to stop. Sometimes he abstains for 2/3 weeks and there is some normality back in the house, still not sex! Then as soon as he has a drink, he’s off binging again. He has been unpleasant verbally and not very pleasant to the children. I should leave, but I feel so helpless. He is winning in the sense, he can do as he likes and knows I am still here to take all the crap and have to build myself up again each time it happens. This week three nights out of four, he’s still not dead.

  • Jane

    My husband is a functioning alcoholic. He was in ICU for congestive heart disease about 3 years ago, has been back to the hospital a couple more times (due to his drinking). He stops drinking for a month, two months, four months, but always starts up again. I was at rock bottom just before he landed in the hospital and was getting counseling. I had no self esteem, no help from family members, his side or mine. That wonderful doctor helped me recover myself. I have tried different approaches with my husband and now find myself shutting down, not talking to him if I can help it. I am trying to find a way to live like this without feeling all the anger and resentment. One thing I can’t let go of is the heart specialist telling my husband it’s okay for him to have an occasional beer. What did my husband hear? It’s okay for you to drink.

    His father was an alcoholic who spent the last couple years of his life incapable of taking care of himself. His mother was resentful and almost starved the man to death until Hospice stepped in. I understand her resentment and I’m afraid the same thing will happen to me.

    My father is an alcoholic and only one other person in my family, my sister, acknowledged it also. The rest are in total denial. I don’t visit my family much, maybe once every couple of years. I just can’t be around it anymore.

    Leaving is not an option. I have been unemployed for many years and am 57 years old. My husband was in the Navy and we do, thankfully, get military retirement, but it’s not enough to live on. He is able to work and does so, but he tends to be a trouble maker and I am always afraid he’s going to get fired.

    I went to an AA meeting, but it was not for me at that time. Maybe I can try it again. I search online looking for similar stories and when I find one, I copy and save it into a folder. I think I’m making a self help book! I have a couple of friends I can talk to; one has a son with addictions, so at least I’m not completely alone with this. But it’s different when it’s your spouse.

    My husband was my best friend. He was my hero. We could tackle anything together. Now I’m alone. I can’t rely on him anymore. I did not want to be the strong one in this family. I did not want to make all the decisions.

    Loneliness, fear of the future – this is what I live with. But I have a small glimmer of hope that he’ll turn himself around.

  • Janessa

    My common law husband and I have been together for 19 years. I have been detached to his functioning alcoholic ways now for 3 year, living my life working full time and raising our four children. I completely throw myself into my children and myself working out, involving myself in their sports. I have been preparing myself financially; I have a four year plan before I will make moves and sell our house and move out.

    He has recently got hurt while drinking, mind you causing him to loose his job and not allowing him to use his leg for 3 months. He has come to me and apologized for all the known pain and wants to work things out and start fresh thinking the experience of being on bed rest will drive him to be a new man. I’ve rejected him, and feel guilty in a way, but feel I finally have given myself justice for all of the painful past events he has caused.

    My problem is whenever he talks about a short sell on the house and moving on, I get scared and hesitant that maybe I’m not doing the right thing, maybe he will change this time. Regardless, I feel strong and after reading all of these stories I am asking all you woman to please stand strong too; go back to school get a career, stop worrying about what they do and please do you. Once you get to the point of not focusing on him trust me, your fears will be lifted and your children will look up to you and know who held things down.

  • Wodi

    I have been married to a brilliant, kind and loving man for nearly 20 years now. He drinks about a pint of Burbon every day (sometimes more) and becomes verbally abusive to me and anyone who might call or come to visit. He tells me to go buy it and I do. If not, he tries to take his wheelchair on a two mike run to town to get it, gravel and all. He does not get physical with others unless they get up in his face in a confrontation (where he cannot move his wheel chair). When I take him out anywhere, it has to be a place where he can drink. Then he embarrasses himself and it talks all I have to get him out of there, back into the van and home to bed.

    I knew he had a drinking problem when I met and married him, but as he got older it became worse. He is paraplegic and has an ex-wife of 23 yrs who married his best friend, divorced him and took the house and all his worldly possessions. We will both be 67 this year and his own daughters will not come to see him. My sons ask me to leave. I cannot because he needs me and I love him (the sober side of him is awesome).

    I am assertive and try not to speak to him when he is drinking. At times I even grabbed his drink and poured it down the sink and what was left in the bottle. He would look at me in shock and ask, “Why?” Then go off to bed. Most dinners will go out to the garbage. Breakfast and lunch are rare also because he is not hungry and wants only to drink or sleep by the afternoon. I always tell him what he has done and said when he is sober. He never believes the things I explain to him because it is so not like him.

    For me, I play computer games, read, or walk the beach when weather is good. I know I really need to get the 5 kids together and talk with him. He needs us. Thank you for this sight, giving us a place to talk about these problems.

    I read “Co-Dependent No More” and “Pulling your Own Strings”. They have helped a bit, but how can I help him to stop drinking and become the wonderful man that he really is when he is sober?

  • Barb

    Dr Neill,

    I have a question…… My story is very similar to all the other desperate stories. Without going into too much hideous detail, the short of it is my husband’s drinking (and behavior) has reached shocking levels. He is upstairs right now sleeping it off after a secretive night of drinking in the garage. We had another screaming fight before he vomited and passed out at 6 am, but not after accusing me of being the cause of his drinking.

    His father was a terrible alcoholic which is why I have always bought into the genetic predisposition POV.

    1) Should I stop threatening to leave him if I don’t follow through? (I can’t financially. He handles the money.)
    2) I drink a tiny bit of wine every night with dinner and one light beer after, that is it. Do I need to remove all the alcohol in the house??

    Desperate in the Midwest

  • I feel as if I’m in a crossroad. I have been with my partner for 9 years and just got engaged weeks ago. He is an alcoholic and has been a beer drinker since the first day I met him. He drinks 8-10 beers a day, more on the weekends and honestly, I didn’t see the issue until 4 years ago. I am 27 and he is 32.

    We have had our fights, breakups and obviously got back together, but I feel as if I’m making a huge mistake if I marry him. He has promised time and time again to quit, but never seeks help. He says he can do it alone and tries to cut back and quits for a week or two then slips right back to where he was. He does get verbally abusive when he has been drinking and sometimes storms off or slams a door, but has never touched me.

    He works 3rd shift, so we hardly see each other except on the weekends and I have major anxiety every Friday not knowing what I’m going to come home to. Every weekend I wonder if this will be the weekend something major happens and I walk out the door forever. I don’t know why but I feel as if I need to have a GOOD reason to leave, something that he can see why I left. We don’t have kids and I do want too, but I don’t want to bring a child into this environment. He is a good person when sober, but I never see him sober. We have plans to get married in July and I need some advice. I don’t know if I should talk to him again or walk away? Please HELP!

  • Quick synopsis of our relationship:

    Married almost 17 years, 2 sons (12 and 14). We have several businesses together which I am much more involved.

    He had been sober for several years when we met and I was fully aware of his past, but drinking was not at all part of our lives while dating and our first year of marriage. About two years in, during my first pregnancy, his drinking started. Wow! It was like Jeckle and Hyde. Irritability, verbal abuse, etc, etc…classic alcoholic tenancies were part of a cycle that has repeated itself several times.

    He does, however, have the ability to turn off the drinking for long periods of time when threatened with divorce. Which brings me to today’s question…

    I have filed for divorce. The kids and I are living with my parents. He has not had a drink in over a month, since we’ve moved out. He says that it is different this time because he now knows that I will absolutely leave him for good if he ever drinks around us (the boys and me), but thinks I am trying to control his entire life if he can’t have a drink on the golf course or at a business event. To me, that is just leaving the door open for the cycle to repeat itself, which I am not willing to repeat.

    He is willing to go to some sort of addiction counseling, but not AA. The things he is saying “look good”, “smell good” but I do not trust it.

    Am I on the right track to continue forward with the divorce which has been a VERY tough decision, or give him a year to see what he actually does to improve and back up what he is saying he is willing to do?

    Please advise.

  • Hello Yo-Yo,

    I can’t advise you on what to do.

    However I can point out that his stated reason for quitting is not about him, and that is a big red flag. When someone quits drinking because someone else wants him to — a spouse, parents, a business partner or a court of law — the prognosis for the long-term is not good.

  • Sandra

    I am married to an alcoholic of 24 years. We have had issues in the past where he has had an online relationship with an old girlfriend, including sexual pictures. But I was blamed for that as I was neglecting him as I went to yoga instead of being at home.

    I work full time and so does he. To cut a long history short, he has lately formed a special friendship with a girl at his work who is a lesbian. However, she has recently split with her partner and is now living in a one bedroom bedsit in the city. When she was going through her break, up my husband and her went on drinking binges and even fell asleep together on my couch downstairs under a blanket, even after I made a bed for her.

    Recently he lied to me about going to the footy and shopping with his mate Chris from work, but he was actually meeting her and going to the pub and the footy. She texted him after this night when he came home drunk and said that she totally loved him and to tell your wife you are going out and that is the way it is and to have a fight with her so they can meet again at the pub. He was too drunk and fell asleep. I confronted him with this in the morning after reading the text and he couldn’t understand that I had a problem with his behavior and the lying and with this woman, so I asked him to leave until he gets counseling for his drinking.

    He is now staying at her place as he has no where else to stay, even though there are five men in the office he gets on very well with and she is the only female. He doesn’t understand I cannot take him back or that I am not happy about where he is staying. We haven’t had sex for months as I cannot let him into my heart as he will think having sex means everything is okay. How do you get him to understand that his behavior is not acceptable or do I just give it up and enough is enough?

  • Lisa

    My issue is very much the same as Sharon’s below in respect that my husband is a great dad to our 2 and 4 year old, but openly puts me down in front of them and accuses me of being to hard on them/crabby with them/not a good mum. So much, so that my 4 year old son now thinks it’s okay put me down because he see/hears his dad do it. Fortunately, my husband doesn’t start drinking until the kids are in bed (unless it’s a weekend and 2 pm in afternoon is acceptable!) and fortunately (or unfortunately, I don’t know) he is not one to go out to the pub and drink, he will have a bottle of wine and a couple of beers minimum every night (more at weekends). He constantly tries to justify it that he works all day (he is the main breadwinner) and holds down a very good job that thankfully pays quite well. He also tries to justify it by saying that everyone else in his work goes home and has a drink.

    I went through a period when I was on maternity that I began joining in and had a drink most nights as he was in a better mood when I was his drinking buddy; we could both relax and have a laugh about things, but I felt he was making me depend on the booze to enjoy my marriage, so I cut way back (I only have a few glasses of wine over weekend now).

    But my marriage is deteriorating because of it. He is a horrible nasty drunk and is verbally abusive. His main gripe is that I only work part time so I don’t bring in/contribute towards bills/the household (my wage only pays for the weekly food shop, etc.). I regularly get called a ‘parasite’ and ‘sponger’. When I am not at work, I am a full time mum. I do not go for lunch with the girls/shop unnecessarily/spend money on anything other than food for the house (my wage does not allow it and I do not bring myself to ask him for money for ‘extras’/luxuries), but knowing I am on a low wage he will still expect me to pay half for road tax/new tires/house repairs, etc.) and become abusive when I tell him I physically can’t.

    I have asked him to stop/cut down his drinking and explained how nasty he can be when drunk. He is very clever and manipulative when drinking; I (think) he will never hit me, but to be honest during one of his drunken ‘scuffles’ I was willing him to hit me because then I will feel justification for leaving him. But I think he knows this and will never hit me knowing this. But he has started controlling aspects of my life very cleverly to ‘punish’ me – I found him hiding my reliever inhaler (I suffer very bad asthma) last night when he was drunk and argumentative. I have to use my inhaler most nights so by hiding it he could have caused a huge risk to my health. Luckily I seen him hide it. To be honest, if I had an attack during the night I don’t know if he would have remembered where he put it as he was so drunk.

    Most of his family have fallen out with him due to drunken abusive Facebook messages, voice mails and texts he sends when drunk. His parents know what I am putting up with, but choose to ignore/turn a blind eye/sweep it under the carpet as they don’t know how to deal with it. As for my family, I hide the truth because believe it or not, I don’t want them thinking bad of him. I do still love him, but he is Jekyll and Hyde when sober/drunk. And I do not want my family saying, “I told you so…” (our relationship moved at a very fast pace and my family begged me to get to know him).

    I beg him to have at least 2 nights free from drink and on a Sunday will suggest maybe a Monday and Wednesday drink free, but he will come home and will always have an excuse like a bad day at work, etc., etc. to have a drink.

    But he gets up everyday and goes to work, he regularly takes us out as a family, takes us on holidays and treats the kids now and again. From the outside looking in, he looks perfect…unfortunately come 8 pm and a bottle of red, it’s a different story.

  • Lisa

    I have recently decided to leave my alcoholic marriage of 10 years – I come from an alcoholic family with an untreated codependent (extremely emotionally and verbally abusive) mother so I am alone in this (my father passed of an alcoholic related cancer when I young). After being in Alanon for 6 months I finally have the confidence to leave, but I’ve also realized my “friends” I chose were as unreliable as my alcoholic husband – so they are no help (part of codependency). But I’m doing it with the help of a therapist and the a bit of support from the one or two friends I have that aren’t totally unreliable.

    I am glad I’m doing it, but it is hard – my husband has amped his alcoholic craziness to an extreme high trying to create as much chaos as possible to keep me from leaving. He is not abusive, but more of a crazy clown type alcoholic – he paints the entire house at 4 am, randomly fights with the neighborhood gardener, loses his car (yes like the movie), passes out on the front sidewalk, loses the pets, landscapes the house in the middle of the night and paints murals on the walls at 3 am. He doesn’t sleep or eat and in between short bouts of work, he just drinks.

    He quits his job and then goes back (he has one of those jobs) and it’s a cycle of unreliable, negligent (towards me) crazy. I finally decided the insanity is too much and want out – and now with 60 days to go until moving day, he has packed nothing of his and has nowhere planned to go. I thankfully work and support myself, but worry I will have to pay him alimony. However, I have no choice but to let him fall where ever he may…and it is hard because the disease IS progressive and he was not like this in the beginning – he is a shell of the man I once knew with manic highs and depressive lows due to the drinking. I know my only way to any semblance of a life of sanity is to leave…but it is hard. Somehow I will get to the other side of this bridge because I cannot stand one moment longer living in this situation.

    Thanks for all the posts – it helps to know I’m not alone in this.

  • Kay

    I have been trying for 7 years to get my husband to give up the rum, now he’s worse than ever. My husband drinks a full bottle of rum every night, 700 ml. Sometimes its already half finished by the time he walks in the door. He will finish the bottle within 1 to 2 hours. He goes on about his work for hours then repeats himself. If I say, “You have already told me” or if I look like I’m ignoring him, he gets very angry with me.

    Every night he will accuse me of playing up then the doors start slamming and so on. He goes away for a few minutes then comes back apologizing and tells me he loves me, then sometime he starts on me again and then he asks for sex!!!!!!!!!!!. This drives me crazy. By this time, he knows he is incapable, it’s just to get a response from me. I have to be very careful with my wording. He knows it’s going to be NO because he hasn’t showered and smells of rum and after being in trouble for nothing, it’s the last thing I want from him.

    I always looks forward to him passing out. He is a diesel mechanic and comes home black. I know his job gets to him, and he has COPD. He tells me he’s not afraid of dying, he is only 41 years old. We have two young babies, 3 and 4 years old. They adore him. Its really all getting to me. I still love him, just don’t like him much these days. I cant leave a dying man, our babies need their daddy. If I leave, I’m hurting him and our babies and myself in a strange way, but if I stay I’m afraid this will only get worse. This will be our lives till the day he dies. But don’t get me wrong, he is a good man and provider when he hasn’t started drinking. He calls me two to three times a day just to tell me he love me. When I tell him the next day what he said or done, he always says sorry and to ignore him, my response is, “Hah, yer right”.

    The only fear I have is will his drinking affect our babies later in life? I don’t want them to become alcoholics. I can only hope and pray that his drinking will turn them off alcohol just as it has for me.

    P.S. The word SORRY doesn’t mean much to me anymore. He may as well be saying wing wong.

  • Susan

    I have been with a functioning alcoholic for seven years. Being only a social, occasional drinker, I had no idea what the warning signs were. Eventually, my partner lost his job, his health, his everything and I became the only “bread winner.” He started criticizing every thing I did, I treated him unkindly. I didn’t know how to have fun. I wouldn’t put the past behind me. I was the one who started all the arguments. I have the “woe is me syndrome” and am enveloped in negativity.

    I keep telling him I am looking for a partner, someone to take personal responsibility, but to no avail. He won’t listen and seemingly prefers to be on the pity pot. So what can I DO???????? Recently, he moved out and is living with friends. Every few days I get angry emails from him stating “I want my stuff back”, “I feel sorry for the next guy”, and “I have a right to be angry at you.” He never wants to talk, just rant and rave.

    What could I do that would help my partner??????

  • Bria

    Dr. Neill,

    Why do alcoholics lie? I was married to one and now in a process of a divorce.

    The extent of his lying is shocking. He lies in the COURT during the divorce proceedings.

    Any suggestions on how to deal with lying?

    His attorney has not seen him in real light – like I have by living with him day to day.

    Thank you for your suggestions.

  • Sue

    Hi there.

    A question. My husband has been a very heavy drinker, a functioning alcoholic according to the tests, for about 30 years. He is affable, agreeable, sloshed most of the time, but seems to be able to tolerate an amazing amount of drink….maybe two or three bottles of wine a day and a 1/2 a bottle of brandy. People describe him as wise and he functions at a high level in the work he does. He is making a very rare visit to the doctors next week for an unrelated reason, but I wonder…is it unfair of me to tell his doctor in advance of his drinking in the hope he might ask him about his heavy drinking? Would it be considered breaking a trust….or has that already been broken anyway by him? Our son left home because he couldn’t bear my husband’s permanent state of drunken bonhomie. I am so unhappy.

  • CJ

    I have been married for 20 years and my husband is drinking 1/2 fifth 101 proof Wild Turkey per night. He can function very well on this too. I drink beer to help deal with the pain. I love him dearly and do not know what to do to help. We have an argument almost every night due to drinking. He tells me he does not have a problem.

    He quit his job nearly 2 years ago and wants to be a Rock Star. I am not sure if he’s going through a mid life crises or how to even cope with our life anymore. I am trying to help him, but at the same time it’s hindering myself and our son. I have lost a tremendous amount of weight due to stress. Please if you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  • Tina

    Dear Dr. Neill,

    I would appreciate your help. I have read many of your answers and understand that I can only control myself and my behavior and the best thing I can do is heal myself and do whatever I want without letting him interfere. Here is where I need help: he could care less if I never speak to him again or if I left. It would probably work out even better for him if I took the kids. I can’t financially remove the kids from the home, but I don’t want to leave them there either.

    How do I prevent them from being influenced from their father’s drinking? What should my messaging be to my husband when he doesn’t drink for a period of time then falls off the wagon? Do I ignore him and just pretend he’s not there? I keep reading there are no consequences and that’s why drunks continue to do what they do…my leaving would not be a consequence…what can I do that is?

  • Lynnette

    I have been married for over 25 years to my husband. When we were first together and he had been drinking, he would sometimes say things in front of others that made me embarrassed or uncomfortable and on one occasion, he had to apologize the next day to a friend for what he had said. He would also be a bit argumentative and try to pick a fight or just be difficult and childlike.

    Because of this I did not like it when he had more than a couple of drinks. I insisted that he did not drink more than this, as by this time we had young children.

    Often when he was away on business he would have more to drink, I could tell during his phone calls. Then, over the years, I could smell alcohol on his breath and his speech would be slurred. He would totally deny drinking and would get cross when I accused him or questioned him about it. One of my biggest concerns was he may be drunk driving. On a number of occasions I found empty beer cans, either in bags in his vehicle or in our bin. He would again deny they were his.

    About eight years ago he would come home more and more with slurred speech and loss of balance and would swear to me that he had not been drinking. I started to doubt my instincts and was starting to believe that he may actually be diabetic. I tried to get him to go to our doctor for tests which he did a couple of times but they came back okay.

    One evening he came home and was really not right, so after a heated argument, I took him to the ER to see what was wrong with him, as I was so worried. They took blood and he just sat there smugly, almost laughing at me, but angry with it at the same time.

    A week later before the results were back he was slurring his words again and this time one of our teenage daughters noticed and said, “Something is wrong with Dad. He keeps trying to have an argument and is just not himself.”

    A year or so before this he had had a scare when he found a lump in one of his testicles. It took him a good few days before he told me about it, after having done lots of research online. It was a cyst and was later surgically removed.

    I said to my daughter, “I am going to go and look at his laptop to see if he has been looking at any medical web sites”, as I was so worried about him. He was saying he was not drinking and we were still awaiting the hospital test results from our GP.

    When I switched on his laptop, an e-mail was still left open on it. That was at that moment that my world fell apart. He was having an affair with a client who we were doing work for at the time. I had to hide my findings from our daughter and cope with my heartache until she had gone to bed. In one of the e-mails he wrote to this woman, he joked about our trip to the ER and how funny he thought it was that he had drunk a bottle of wine with her, driven home and then to keep me quiet, he had agreed to go to the hospital knowing full well what the results would be.

    I felt betrayed, stupid, alone, heartbroken and just awful.

    I woke him up and confronted him and after talking, agreed to try and save our marriage. He broke up with the woman he was having the affair with, but she was furious and sent seventeen dreadful e-mails to my company e-mail address on Christmas day, which was three weeks after I had found out and my husband broke off the relationship.

    Life carried on but on the odd occasion my husband would come home with slurred speech and seeming to be drunk, I tried hard to believe him when he looked straight at me and said he had absolutely not been drinking and was starting to think and believe I was going crazy. Then, he came home really late one night having written off his vehicle and still driven it home. He rolled the vehicle and the roof was caved in! He was lucky the Police did not see him or that he caused anyone else any harm.

    Again, he drove his vehicle into a ditch one night but it all came to a head when he had been out fishing one afternoon and came home quite definitely drunk. I was so upset and angry as he was still denying he had been drinking. We had a big argument and he stormed out, got into his vehicle and drove off into Town. The Police stopped him and he was charged with drunk driving and banned for a year. I was his driver for that year, taking him everywhere he needed to go and to my knowledge, the only time he drank was when he was away overnight staying in a hotel on business.

    I thought, that when he promised he would never drink and drive again, that he would keep his word. However, he did it again, a couple of months ago, and it was then that he finally admitted that he may have a problem with alcohol. He admitted to being a first class liar, in fact an expert at it.
    He has attended a few AA meetings since then but is having problems with, “the God thing”, as he puts it. He does not believe and so he is finding the meetings a bit difficult.

    My problem is, how do I trust him when he says he has not been drinking? I know I am probably not helping matters when I have asked him to let me smell his breath and I look at him with doubt . I want so much to believe that he is sober and I hate myself at times now because I am so suspicious.

    I need support myself. I do speak to my Parents at times about this, but they are in their eighties now and should not have to have these concerns at this time in their life. My husband does not want any of our friends and family, other than our now grown up children, to know he is an Alcoholic. Who or where would it be best for me to go or ask for help? I am at an all time low. My husband was very angry with me this evening and has gone to stay at a hotel because I asked him, when he got home, if he had been drinking and asked to smell his breath. I then tried to persuade him to make an appointment to get checked again for Diabetes, as he is borderline. I don’t like the person I am becoming, always suspicious but desperate not to be. Please, can you help?

  • Erin

    My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We have 2 young children together. My husband is a functioning alcoholic, but it has gotten completely worse the last couple of years. I am ready to leave and have been for a while. My only problem is worrying about my kids. He’s not physically abusive, but I worry once I leave and have to share custody with him my kids may be in unintentional danger. He can drink a lot (12 pack and a pint) in a day and still function enough. I just worry if he has the kids and I’m not there he could pass out and leave them to fend for themselves. The only reason I haven’t left is because by staying I know my kids are safe because I am home with them. He usually passes out when I come home, leaving me and the kids to ourselves. I honestly prefer it just me and the kids, but don’t know what happens when I do leave. Can anyone share info on what kind of rights he would get when I leave?

  • libby

    Hi, I have been reading these posts. O finally feel like I’m not alone. I have been married to my husband for 13 years, we have 5 wonderful children, two from a previous relationship.
    I am so over my husband. He works very hard, but as soon as he comes home, he drinks at least 10 to 12 beers a night,and sits in the dining room of our house and listens to music while drinking. The children use to go in there to talk to him and have great fun with him, but now that they are getting older, they are finding him annoying. He never comes to school events and never goes out drinking.

    It’s so embarrassing when people come to drink at our house, he always gets legless and falls asleep somewhere,he gets real crude to my friends and talks sexually to them, every night when he’s drunk I can’t talk to him because he’s so annoying. Then, he thinks I’m in a bad mood with him, then starts an argument. I’m so tired of going everywhere on my own, sitting every night on my own and going to bed on my own.

    As I’m writing this, he is passed out on the couch and has just urinated all over it. To be completely honest, if he got sick from drinking, it would probably be a blessing. I feel so ashamed to say that, I just don’t know what to do. My friends always say, “well at least he’s a friendly drunk and doesn’t hit you !!”

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Dr. Neill,

    I have been with my husband for seven years (four being married) with a beautiful son, whom I adopted from my husbands previous relationship. I grew up with an alocholic father who was both physically and mentally abusive (closed that chapter now that I am an adult)…now married to a functional alcoholic. My husband has an amazing heart, loves his family, loves his son and loves his wife. UNFORTUNATELY, he drinks every night, passes out on the couch until about three am and then, decides to come to bed while I get up @ five to drive downtown for work. He complains about our sex life, but I can honestly say the drinking has pushed me away sexually and I am not there in that category at all. I am only 30 and cannot even make out with my husband. (Mind you, he still gets “it” four to five times a week…yet still complaining!) I have lost COMPLETE attraction due to the late night pass outs and immaturity. I have come to him crying, angry, and now I have finally checked out emotionally in the marriage. I feel I have carried the weight for seven years regarding my roll as a mother (#1), wife, nanny, provider just as much as him(work, 401k, stock, insurance) sexually, and emotionally. I have one foot in the door (regarding the marriage) and one foot out. I have pushed the subject of alcohol down for years because it is a continuous fight and I have chosen to keep the peace rather than be right. I know for a fact, if I stay in this marriage, the drinking will continue. Unfortunately, we are separated for time being and I am deciding on whether or not to stay or leave this relationship. The man loves me no doubt. BUT, through this time of separation, he is extremely manipulative, can definitely be immature, says pretty degrading things, on top calling my office saying he was going to kill himself…to which I called 911. I have stood by this man with his package: a child from a previous relationship, his background record, and his extremely cold and cruel mother. A GIRL IS WORN OUT. Is it selfish of me to exit this relationship?

  • Hi Elizabeth. On the surface, yes it may seem selfish, but in reality taking care of yourself is the most unselfish thing you can do.

  • L

    I’m wondering how to handle conflicts with the recovering alcoholic’s family, specifically his parents. I’ve been with my SO for nearly twenty years; three years ago, I became aware that he was drinking heavily behind my back and tried to help him to stop. Before this happened, I drank twice a year now I don’t drink at all. Unfortunately, he did receive a DUI and ended up having his license suspended.

    While he has been sober now for nearly two years and has his license reinstated, his parents, more specifically his father, have made comments to me that I’m over penalizing him, as I am only allowing him to drive himself to and from work. Also, that I’m controlling. I have and do acknowledge that there probably is some codependency going on, but I am wounded by his father’s comments to me. I am a fairly shy person, and I like my SO’s parents very much, but I do feel they tend to project their sons’ behavior (my SO being a recovering alcoholic, their eldest son being an adulterer) upon the partners they’re involved with. I understand the concern, but I felt it could have been handled far better. I’m becoming more independent, but I would still like to be in a healthy relationship with my SO, who says that he is happy with me and feels that I’m not controlling him. How should I be treating him, and responding to his parents’ concerns?

  • I’m 43 years old with 3 children, age 18, 12 and 9. I’ve been married and divorced twice. First divorce was because my husband was addicted to meth, lying, cheating and stealing and the second because he was verbally abusive, became dependent on alcohol and was sexually abusive and later determined to be bipolar. I finally reconnected with a high school sweetheart and our first year together was the greatest time in my life. We got married 2 years ago and didn’t live together until after we were married.

    That’s when I started to notice his nightly drinking. He’s a quiet guy and very non confrontational so he prefers to drink alone. At first a few each night. Now its at least a six pack and often tops it off with some whiskey. He’s a night owl. He starts drinking around 7 p.m. so he’s sober for the most part when the kids are up. I get up early and leave for work so I tend to go to bed around 10 or 11. It’s not uncommon for him to stay up till 3 in the morning drinking and then come to bed and literally pass out. I’ve watched him stagger into the room, fall down, urinate on the floor, throw up, you name it.

    He hasn’t come to bed at the same time as me, not even for sex in a year. When we do have sex it’s in the middle of the day and there is nothing intimate about it. I go to bed alone every night – not even a little snuggle time. I get a hug and kiss when he gets home from work, but there is zero intimacy between us anymore and we used to have a very passionate relationship.

    He’s not verbally or physically abusive, but he doesn’t contribute to the family at all. He doesn’t clean up his own messes, he doesn’t mow the lawn or take out the trash. I work a full time job and am the breadwinner in the family and I come home to care for the kids, cook, and clean a 3000 sq foot house. I’m tired and after two failed marriages I feel like I’ve failed again. He is void of emotions. He won’t participate in anything family and now won’t really participate in anything with me. I feel more like he’s a roommate than a husband. He used to tell me how he felt about me, how pretty I was and how he was so lucky to have me in his life. Now I get a “good game” hug and a chicken peck.

    He maintains a full time job, but the hours are conducive to him binge drinking and sleeping it off. We have maintained separate finances and while he does contribute to groceries and a car payment, I pay for rent and all other expenses in the house since my income is significant higher than his.

    I’ve told him how I feel, that I’m lonely, that I need a partner and he’s emotionless when we talk. He stops drinking for a day or two and then he’s right back at it. We’ve talked about our lack of intimacy, (not sex but intimacy) and how I need some level of that in my life. Still nothing.

    I’ve reached a point where I’m not sure what to do. I’ve spent too many years of my life struggling with feeling used and abused and have fought too hard to rise above my past circumstances to find myself in this place again. I’m wondering if leaving is the best option and wondering if I can help him through what I know will be a very long road of recovery when he hasn’t even admitted he has a problem. I find myself getting lost in loneliness and not living life. I’m becoming bitter and feel myself building the wall of protection that I know is the first sign of backing away slowly. My kids need a father and not just a man in the house. I do everything for everyone in my house and I need backup and even when I ask for it, I get nothing.

    I do love my husband, but I don’t like who he has become and I don’t like who I am becoming as a result of his alcoholism and lack of partnership. I’ve started doing things to bring me out of my slump of feeling blue all the time and have reconnected with friends and started doing more with my kids. I hoped that he would see that there is more than beer and if he would put the beer down and participate, he might enjoy himself.

    Reading these stories of others and my alcoholic doesn’t seem so bad but it’s definitely driving me away and I don’t know how much I can deal with.

  • ALS

    I’m married to a functioning alcoholic who is actively drinking. On the advice of a marriage counselor (I’m the only spouse willing to seek counseling), I have begun attending Al-Anon meetings. I understand that my recovery is going to be a long process, but I am really struggling with learning how to detach when my husband starts in with the verbal and emotional abuse.

    More than that though, I stumbled upon your website when I was searching for advice on how to respond to my husband when he asks me to buy him alcohol. My husband does not drink every day, but if alcohol is present in our home, he drinks it to excess until it is gone. Due to his work schedule (and what I feel is his way of compensating for his behavior at home), he leaves before sunrise and usually is not home before sunset. Since he works so much, he is too “tired” to really do anything other than go to work and come home. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom (for the moment), I do all of the shopping and errands. I’ve learned not to ask my husband if he needs anything from the store because he usually will ask me to buy him alcohol. Lately though, my husband has just been asking me to buy alcohol for him (only 2-3 times).

    So, all that to get to my dilemma. I don’t know how to tell my husband, “No.” I guess I’m too concerned about his response, but I have barely been able to accept that I’m married to an alcoholic. I’m not ready to even tell him that I’ve been attending Al-Anon meetings because I know his response will be nothing but denial and verbal abuse directed at me. I’m not yet comfortable saying, “No, I believe you are an alcoholic so I will no longer purchase alcohol for you.” Any advice or suggestions?

  • Rene'

    Hello I have been sitting here reading all the posts and in a sad way it makes me feel good to know I’m not alone.
    I knew my husband 20 years ago and “hooked up’ with him a few times then, but it never went anywhere. Then, two years ago he contacted me on a site and invited me to a party. I had always been very attracted to him, so of course I said yes. I attended the party and towards the end of the night while outside smoking a cigarette and talking he kissed me. Let’s just say he swept me off my feet!

    Here it is two years later and we are now married, I have two children by a previous marriage and he has one child by a previous “hook up”. When we first got together my husband was addicted to drugs, drinking beer and the hard stuff and hanging out with the wrong people. Through a lot of counseling and hard work he has been drug free for over a year, he no longer drinks the hard stuff and thank the good man above, he no longer hangs out with his old friends.

    The problem is, he’s an HFA (high functioning Alcoholic). Once he opens one beer that’s it, 9 times out of 10 he’s drinking for the rest of the day or night. He’s never physically abusive, but he does say some pretty hurtful things. When he drinks he stutters, he is extremely loud and obnoxious and most of the time rude because he interrupts people constantly. He thinks he’s still in high school where he was the life of the party. He drinks in front of our children like there’s nothing wrong with it. He makes all kinds of excuses as to why he doesn’t think he needs to stop.

    I have reached the point in my marriage where I feel as though I don’t know what to do anymore. I have problems of my own, I suffer from PTSD and clinical depression, so having to deal with his addiction on top of my own illnesses is the hardest thing in the world. I wrote him a letter, not judging him, but stating facts about my feelings and the children. I plan on reading it to him tonight at our marriage counseling session, that is if he doesn’t drink beforehand, which he’s been known to do several times. Is this a good decision? I have to let him know whats happening to me because of his addiction, it’s only fair, right?

  • Sheryl

    I feel for each and everyone here. Believe it or not, I fell for it a second time. I divorced my first husband for his drinking, drug abuse, not being able to hold down a job and physical abuse. He pulled a gun on me while I was holding our baby daughter. I was going out for a walk and he began accusing me of going to meet someone, which I was not. Needless to say, I left him, after 3 unsuccessful attempts at rehab and the gun incident. I took my daughter to counseling when she was a bit older and got some help for myself. Here I am 22 years later with the same kind of guy. I don’t drink, but he drinks enough for the both of us. He is definitely a functional alcoholic since he has held down a job for 17 years. Just recently, during a physical at work, they gave him a breathalyzer test. They don’t do that so they have to be suspecting something. I am so worried, especially in this economy. I can’t say anything without him twisting my words into a fight. I can’t remember the last time I saw him sober. He comes from a family of alcoholics, which I didn’t learn until later in our marriage. He is not physically abusive at this point, but verbally he is ugly. He breaks a lot of our stuff so the potential is there. I am so tired of walking on egg shells. I just don’t know how I got to this point once again. He yells at me stating that I don’t communicate well, but he doesn’t listen because he is too drunk to listen.

    This cycle starts each and everyday as soon as he gets in the door each night and I pray for him to pass out for some peace and quiet. It is rather tiring. I don’t have a job right now so leaving is kind of out of the question, until I have some way of supporting myself. At least I worked in the last marriage so I was able to just leave. I just can’t believe I fell for it again. I have been to counseling and they stated that nothing is wrong with me other than I love too much. Too nice of a person. I need to be more assertive they say. I was always a person who had goals and dreams and I can’t believe where I ended up again. I want to break this circle and find peace finally and hopefully. I have no friends anymore because they can’t stand him and my family, well they don’t support me one bit. They tell me to leave, okay, I want to, but where do I go and how will I live without any money. If a had a some money, I would be gone in a heartbeat. Trust me. Is it a bad thing to want to live all by yourself and just have peace of mind because that is what I want. If I go, I don’t want to be involved with anyone until I find myself once again. I don’t know if this cycle is a Karma thing that I have to burn off stuff I did in another life. It is scary what I have been through and what I am going through now. He won’t go to rehab, I already asked him and he said flat out no. I am writing this with tears in my eyes because he is acting up now as I am writing this. Good luck to everyone here and I am sure everything will work out for me. I just have to get my ducks all in a row. Take care all!!!

  • Julie

    My heart is heavy reading all these posts. I see parts of my story in every one. I’ve been with my husband for 25 years and love him deeply. We met in college and drank together and smoked pot together. I became addicted to pot so I quit about 8-10 years ago. Since then, he smokes more and has increased his drinking to 6-10/day, more on weekends. About 2 years ago I found myself drinking more. Sometimes out of stress in dealing with it all and sometimes just to attempt connection. I always end up feeling just as lonely though because it isn’t a true connection. I’ll get caught in a cycle of drinking with him for a couple of weeks, get depressed and dip back into my binge eating behavior. Eventually I pull myself back up and start taking care of myself again, only to find myself once again feeling lonely, disconnected and anxious. I then start the cycle all over.

    I’ve had a lifelong history of an eating disorder and can’t blame it on him but I can say the stress of living with a functional alcoholic is great and unfortunately for me, I don’t know how to deal other than trying to “escape” the situation.

    Dr. Neill, do you have any advice?

  • Colette Sicad

    Hi
    I have been with a functioning alcoholic for 24 years. I am successful, two Mater’s degrees and a good job, and my two children are grown and on their own and both are doing well. Still I stay with him. I have my own life and bit by bit it is separate from his. I stay now because I feel obligated to stay or I’m too comfortable, although not happy in the relationship. I know that he depends on me and that he loves me, but I don’t feel the same way about him. I’m lonely and I miss intimacy. I cannot be intimate with him because I cannot stand the smell of cigarettes and alcohol (I do not drink or smoke). Friends are fine but I miss being close to a man. I feel stuck and feel I deserve better, still I don’t leave. Why? Why? Why? My daughter seems to believe I should stand by him, but my son understands that I want more and deserve better. Not sure what keeps me here. I work in a field where I help other’s who cannot help themselves and it seems I can’t take my own advice. Not sure what it will take to make me leave. P.S. I’m not angry with him, I’m sad that he is killing himself and has ruined his life, even though he cannot help himself I judge him for his addiction.

  • Aashi

    Hi, I have been married to a high functioning alcoholic for the last 3 years. Because of my study we have been staying together since last year. I feel so lonely because he Doesn’t have time for me. He goes to the office and comes back late at night. Then he starts drinking,. He lie to me and deny things like some alcoholics. He become physically violent some times and after that, he realizes and admits what he has done. He says he will quit but it doesn’t work. He did manage to quit for 3days. In the last year I have only seen him go five days without alcohol in a week. He use to drink one large bottle of whiskey in three days alone. Sometimes he drinks a large whiskey all seven days. I am working and financially independent. My in laws says everything will be alright, but I know it won’t be. When I ask my husband to go to AA meetings he never agrees and says he doesn’t drink much. He says that he, “is making money and doing his job, so why do I have any problem?” We don’t have any kids. I feel like I should leave him, please help.

  • lynn

    I have been with an alcoholic now for 3 years. He was incarcerated after we lived together for just 6 months. I was not aware of his drinking problem until we lived together. He would drink in the morning until night, drive while intoxicated, and even go to work while under the influence. He was put in jail for 2 years and I waited for him. He promised me he would change and that he had finally reached the bottom and had me, a good woman, to help motivate him to want a better life. Well, he was released 4 months ago and for the first 2 months he was great, but these last 2 he is slowly creeping up to drinking more. I have explained to him that I will not tolerate this behavior again, after all the waiting and supporting him for 2 years. I told him he would need to get help by the end of this month or he would have to leave. Now its approaching and he is still drinking with no intention on getting help. I am scared now as my rent is due and he just started working. I really thought we were going to be a team. My husband died of depression from drinking and overusing prescription drugs and I will not go through that again. I hope I can find the right way to tell him to leave, but he says he’s not going anywhere. Any advice on the right way to actually make him leave would be appreciated, as I know deep down if he doesn’t lose something somewhere he is just going to keep doing this. I know this doesn’t mean he will change because I kicked him out and guarantee he will come back to me because of it, but it does give me self worth again and lets him know he can not keep treating me this way no matter what the outcome will be. Thank you for any advice and good luck to us all. May God see us through this nightmare.

  • Lori

    Wow. These comments are heavy to read. I’ve realized my husband is a sensitive soul. Sensitive people have a hard time with life so alcohol helps mask things. I’ve been with my man for 18 years, since I was 15. I just assumed he’d grow out of it. He’s an amazing man who does so much for others, but I wished he’d do more for himself. I’ve never been abused physically or mentally I just get turned off when he gets to the, “cross eyed point.” It got worse when I was pregnant, maybe because of the stress of caring for another? I recently told him I resent him for that. He drank even more when our son was just a year and his older brother went to prison. And now he’s lost his mom unexpectedly. I knew it would get worse, and it has. He recognizes he needs help thank goodness, but what is going to be the breaking point? He hides it in his shop and has recently started doing weird things like peeing in the cupboard and turning on the stove with nothing in the pan, after he passes out, and then gets up again. This is the story people don’t hear. He’s an amazing husband and father. I just want so badly for him to learn to handle his sensitive nature other than masking it with booze. Thank you all for sharing.

  • Leslie

    Hello, I would consider my husband to be the one who holds a job, participates in most family activities, but almost daily drinks 4-8 beers. It frustrates me so much that he starts right when he gets home from work and drinks one beer right after the other till bedtime. I have my own problems with being overweight. Every time I try to address his drinking he always says its no different than you wanting ice cream. I won’t lie I am obese and I love ice cream, but I also know that my problems cannot be his crutch to deal with his own problems. I need help! I am starting to just believe that I have a right to not be married to an alcoholic and it just might ruin our marriage.

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