Afraid Of What Will Happen To Him...

I've been married for 24 years, and have been living with my husband for 25.  He has always spent a few hours in the pub each evening.  When we were first married it was Monday to Friday and he told me it was a part of his job... he's a lawyer, and needed to connect with other people in the evenings, so he said.

I was working myself and had a long journey to my office, and it didn't bother me that much... I have always had a lot of interests, and so I wasn't bothered by him being out of the house.  From time to time we would have rows... he hasn't ever been deliberately violent, but he is pretty difficult to live with when drunk.  He is volatile and reacts angrily to almost any discussion, no matter how trivial. He is clumsy, drops things and has accidents.  He becomes very unreasonable.

As the years have progressed, the amount of time he spends in the pub has increased, and the amount he drinks.  He was very ill in 2000 and I thought that might lead him to reevaluate his life, particularly when he was told that hs drinking had in all likelihood caused his illness.  He simply went back to heavy drinking as soon as he was fit enough.

We now have three children who are almost grown up.  I have never hidden the fact that their father drinks, and I have often explained to them that drunk people are unreasonable, and if he asks them to do something they know is unreasonable, it is OK not to do it.

As the years have gone by, things have got worse financially.  We had a big shock in 1990 when it seemed that my husband was going to be held legally accountable for the debts of his former company, even though he had left them six months before over their financial handling of the firm.  To a certain extent that happened anyway, and all our insurances and savings went to the company to pay off the debt - about £75K in all.  He has gradually become less and less trustworthy and responsible, although he resents any interference in things.  About four years ago I had the Electricity company on the doorstep about a week before Christmas, demanding money, and had to hand over my Christmas money that I had saved to buy the children presents.  The following year I answered a knock on the door to find Bailiffs there... he had failed to pay bills and we had been taken to court without my ever knowing about it.  I have had people chasing mortgage payments, tax people, all sorts at the door.  He has always pretended things were OK, even if I ask him to let me know if there are problems, he never does until someone knocks on the door. 

Even though he is a lawyer, h always deals with problems by ignoring them.  Even though I have told him that if we deal with things early enough it is possible to postpone payments, or to have a company help us pay in instalments, for example, he never does this, and never lets me know when things haven't been paid.

He behaves as though I am a drama queen to feel very unsafe in the house.  I live in the living room now, working and sleeping on the sofa, and I have told him a number of times that I do not think I can carry on like this. 

To be honest, I would have left years ago if it wasn't for the children, but I have a friend whose alcoholic husband drove off with their children in the car, had an accident and never returned.  I considered that if I left, I would have to let him have access to the children and they would have to deal with him drunk without me there, and might possibly be made to get into the car while he was drunk.  I decided then that I had to stay with him while the children were too young to fend for themselves, or to take their own decisions, but now that the youngest is 15, that isn't true any more.  I wonder if I made the right decision when I stayed... they hate their father's drinking and have definitely lost respect for him over the past two or three years.  He will quite easily tell them they can't have any money for deodorant, or that they can't have some ice cream or whatever, and then come home drunk.  Once upon a time they wouldn't have realised the implications of that, but they do now.  They know that he is selfish enough to say they can't have things and then spend the money on himself.

For years the money that I have made has gone on household essentials like paying the mortgage or council tax.  His money comes in erratically and when he has money he spends it like water... when all my income has been spent on the household.  He resists all my attempts to take over the household finances, and thinks I am exaggerating or lying about the extent to which he has changed and become irresponsible.

I know that his problem is a family problem, not only were both his parents alcoholics, but his grandparents and great grandparents too.  I worry that by staying with him I may ave made it more likely that the children will drink to excess in the future, although they all drink very sensibly at the moment.

The thing is... he's actually a lovely, thoughtful, kind and generous man when sober.  He's like Jekyll and Hyde - really two entirely different people.  In the morning when sober he is a very nice man.  In the evening when drunk he is difficult, temperamental, short-tempered, incoherent, unable to have a civil conversation and boring!  I have learned to ignore the emotional outbursts, but I know from spending a few days with my mother away from him, that even though I try to make myself relax, I am still on edge, watchful and stressed, trying to anticipate what will cause problems.

His drinking now interferes with normal life, because not only is he unreliable about money, but his memory is being affected.  I worry that he is going to develop Korsakovs syndrome, as his father did, because he confabulates when he can't remember, which is one of the signs.  I have suggested that he go for Vitamin B injections, as this can help ameliorate some of the worst symptoms, but he refuses.

I've got to the stage where I don't think I can put up with this any longer, but I am at a loss to know how to go about it... or where to go if I leave him.  We have very little money, although we have a lot of equity in our house.  The trouble is that I never do try to discuss anything important when he is drunk, and when he is sober, I am reluctant to hurt him... and I worry about how he will deal with it too... I worry that he will drink more and be unable to cope with day-to-day life without us.

If truth be told, I can't understand how people go about leaving when there is no money for anything.  I can't understand how they deal with hurting someone they love.  I love him sober, and I literally hate him when drunk.  I know that we would eventually have the proceeds of the house, but I don't know how to go about the practical things. 

I have a friend who is always very supportive, but my other friends have gradually dropped away... possibly partly because I was always saying that I couldn't put up with it all any longer and was leaving... but never actually did.  I have a man I met during my work who has been very caring and supportive too.  I like him a lot, but he is not used to children and lives in a different country.  At the moment I feel that I need to deal with one thing before I deal with anything else.
Dorcasta Dorcasta
5 Responses Jul 28, 2010

Wow- it's great to hear others express some of my fears. I too stay with an alcoholic/sex addict I have been married to for 15 years. With each passing episode of drunkenness, lying, cheating on me , another wall has sprung up between us. I now feel anger with almost everything about him, even down to the sounds he makes when eating! I have to admit that, even though there is a tiny kernel of the original love, I mostly hate him now. I stay, unfortunately, because the loss of him would mean losing the majority of my income, losing the person who keeps up our house and my aging mothers and the man who plays with and exercises my dogs (who I care about as strongly as children). To boot, he has attempted to kill himself before, almost successfully, when he thought we were through. It's exhausting hiding car keys and credit cards, trying to get the booze out of the house when he's passed out so he doesn't wake up, drink more and drive. He says he is hopeless and I'm beginning to believe that is true. I still have to weigh if its worth putting up with my disgust for him or losing my financial stability. I know I could live without him personally. When you find the miracle cure, would you let me know? I'm sorry you are going through this.

I understand your feeling Dorcasta because I feel that too. His addiction has gotten worse that he stopped working for 14 now and last night he threw a bottle of cooking oil to me and threatened to burn me. Even that I couldn't leave him because of the same reasons you mentioned. I have a 14 years old daughter who understands the situation and asks me to leave him. ;((

Think positive real hard! You can do it. I can't tell you what to do but I know that when you figure out the solution you'll do it. But first you have to stop wasting time, arguing with him or worrying. That takes so much energy that your creative side can't kick in like it would for you normally. Focus on feeling the happiness that you want to come your way. Draw it to you!

Dear Dorcasta I totally understand the Jekyl/ Hyde you are dealing with I too am married to an alcoholic that is by day one person by night another. It would be easier for me to leave if it were just me but I have a small child to consider and it makes it very difficult, thank God you have some supporters for you I wish so bad that I had a mother to talk to but I don't. Hang in there and now that your children are older maybe you can start anew for yourself and your children I hate to say it but maybe your husband is never going to change and he has to help himself. I know you have probably tried to talk to him over and over I know I have with my husband and nothing works.Best of luck to you.

I found that quite a harsh comment. I agree that the fact I am still here means I don't want to leave enough to leave, but I have the consequences for four other people to consider. I am afraid that my children will watch their father kill himself with drinking fast if I leave. I am afraid that leaving without anywhere to go to and without money will mean I am exchanging something bearable for them and for me, into something much worse, and it is those fears which have prevented me from leaving.<br />
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Is your life so black and white, so this and that, then? No room for grey or indecision at all? No room to care for fallible and imperfect human beings?