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To expect my partner to come to parties with me?

(156 Posts)
atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 00:03:35

My husband has begun declining invites to social/family events that he is not interested in.

They are always relating to someone in my life, my friend, my family - last week it was with our son attending a friends birthday party, where everyone else's Dad was there, our son's wasn't, and this week it was my Mum's birthday party but he didn't join me at the family gathering.

His reasons are; last week he just didn't want to go as it was during the day and he said it didn't interest him, e had better ways to spend his day than at a child's party, and that the child's Mum is my friend, not his.

This week he was attending AA (he's an alcoholic) and keeps saying he's not struggling with drink at present but chose to go here instead of to my family party because that's what he does on the same night of the week and didn't want to change it. He could have gone a different night though (they're run every day of the week) and there was no booze at the party as my Mum is also teetotal, so it wouldn't have been a temptation.

I'm feeling like he's increasingly being selfish about not attending anything that just doesn't suit him, which always seems to be anything to do with me!

I am always going to events that he organises though, out of support for him, even of it doesn't interest me.

Am I being unreasonable to look for some of that in return?

thismousebites Tue 20-Aug-13 00:11:48

TBH I would rather my DH went to an AA meet if he were a recovering alcoholic than a party.
And I have taken my DCs to loads of kids parties where the dads were nowhere to be seen. In fact, i would probably think it a bit strange if I took my DCs to a kids party and dads were there as well as mums. No need really as the party is for the kids to attend, isn't it?

NatashaBee Tue 20-Aug-13 00:15:19

I do think you need to consider his AA meetings as non-negotiable and make sure he can attend them regularly. If it didn't clash, though, I would have liked him to attend a party with me if there was no booze present. How far is he into being teetotal? Do you think he's struggling?

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 00:17:37

Normally I would say I would expect that too; except this couple invite the whole family and we were the only family with a Dad missing, which we knew would be the case before setting off. They're the kind of friends who add their friends to the extended family, if that makes sense. But I appreciate not all kiddies parties are like that.

Alisvolatpropiis Tue 20-Aug-13 00:19:52

Yabu.

So what you were the only family with the Dad missing? Better he missed it to attend an AA meeting than starts drinking again.

Is this a reverse AIBU? Are you the husband?

Silverfoxballs Tue 20-Aug-13 00:20:52

I would try and get out of a children's party tbh.

I do think his AA meeting was far more important than a party. I hated my stepfather but even I didn't want him to die at 49 due to his alcoholism.

You both need a proper discussion about what is going on.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 00:21:29

He's been dry over a year and says he's not struggling but that he goes because he's expected to (by AA people), a bit like investing in his (alcohol-free) future I guess.

I'm obviously really supportive of that, however they run a meeting every day of the week and he goes once a week, so I'd have though he could just go on a different night for a family birthday?! I know he would if it was his own family hmm

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 00:24:13

No, perhaps I didn't make it clear enough. The kiddies party was daytime and not on AA night, e just didn't fancy it.

It was my Mum's birthday that was on AA night.

Of course I would not want him to struggle with it, the point being that he assures me he isn't currently struggling. I believe him as he's been honest in the past about times he has found it hard going drink-wise.

Alisvolatpropiis Tue 20-Aug-13 00:32:48

He's probably not struggling in part because of the AA meetings.

Tbh my dp and I occasionally duck out of social events one is attending that the other doesn't want to. It's not that big a deal.

TwoStepsBeyond Tue 20-Aug-13 00:32:51

Does he do other things with you as a family? Given the option I would rather dump and run with kids parties if I don't have to stay. Can't bear hanging about making polite conversation with people I barely know.

XH often missed family stuff as he worked shifts but I know that even if he hadn't been working he would have tried to avoid them. It wasn't the only anti-social side of him, or the only unreasonable thing he did. If this is part of a bigger picture I can see it being a problem, if not then I'd let it slide tbh.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 00:40:11

It seems to be happening with increasing regularity, and not always to do with parties, just any socialising that is for couples but of no interest to him (i.e. my family/friends and not his).

If it were just the two isolated incidents I gave in this post, I wouldn't have felt the need to create the thread. But it does seem to be a worrisome lack of interest in anyho socially that doesn't interest him, but that people are noticing his absence because it isn't really expected.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 00:42:22

That's a fair point that he is probably not struggling because of the AA meetings. I do appreciate that. But I bet he'd swap nights if it were a night for one of his friends or family!

Alisvolatpropiis Tue 20-Aug-13 00:52:22

If you feel he is using it as an excuse more often than not I can understand why you would feel arsed off.

Can you talk about it to him? Not in a "you going to AA meeting is xyz" but more a "you don't seem to want to spend time with my family (who are technically yours too) or my friends anymore...why's that?" kind of way?

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 00:59:12

yabu

I worked in rehab and if you can make an excuse for one thing, it makes it easier for another. He is right to go to AA and do it on his set night.

However, it sounds like there is another issue. He will go to any of his family things but not yours (or the kids'). Is it just the two times or is this a pattern?

Putting my alcohol counselor hat on... is he finding socialising without alcohol difficult? These things can creep in. Did he drink to cover any social anxieties?

DropYourSword Tue 20-Aug-13 03:17:06

If you're an extrovert (like engaging with other people, enjoy parties and thrive on getting your energy from others) than it might be quite difficult for you to understand your DH's point if view if he's an introvert (likes quiet time, doesn't thrive on large gatherings, finds it difficult to enjoy socializing in large groups often). Even without being a recovering alcoholic I would find attending lots of parties quite challenging. I have had to work hard on this over the years because I know it sometimes can appear that I'm unfriendly when really in just not comfortable in social situations. Might that be the problem?

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 04:26:27

Yes I think talking to him constructively may be a good idea - I was kind of putting out the feelers here first though in the Mumsnet sounding board!

It does seem to be an ever increasing trend, and that's why I was getting concerned.

It's fair to say he's been socially shy without the cover of alcohol in the past, but these are people he knows.

Not just that, but he also has been saying recently how much he's bee enjoying his newfound freedom of being able to easily chat to complete strangers, and how he feels this is a new development for him. And i am so pleased he is feeling more socially able, but that makes it feel a but worse that he will try his newfound freedom on total strangers more easily than on people he already knows and who already think the world of him without him having to work hard at it!!!

The total strangers didn't know him drinking, though. The family, I assume, did. That can make things difficult.

BTW I have a DH who avoids social occasions involving my friends and family like the plague. Literally, actually he gets 'sick' conveniently before we have to leave.

Ledkr Tue 20-Aug-13 05:47:46

My pil literally have one "do" after another.
Everyone's birthday Easter etc.
I Used to go to them all but loathe most if them and resent the time spent attending them.
So now I just go to the if ones and dh goes on his own.
You said yourself they are occasions for your family, he just doesn't want to go.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 07:26:36

I take the point about him not being known as a drinker by strangers, didn't think of that but it dies make sense.

Not attending the birthday of your wife's parent does seem a bit if an affront though. My Mum has done a lot for him all year round, and I'm not saying that in a "he owes her" type way, simply to show they have a good relationship.

For those of you who say you wouldn't go either, don't you think there's a place for 'giving' to your partner by joining them at their parents birthday celebration, rather than leading such separate lives like this?

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Tue 20-Aug-13 08:32:20

atrcts - several people with experience of alcoholism have already said on this thread that going to the AA meeting is a priority, that it is important to keep it on the same night to get the habit and routine because it is such an important thing. It is, as someone else said, about not finding excuses. Yet once again you are fixated by the fact that he didn't come to your mum's birthday party. The two things clashed. Your OH was RIGHT to prioritise the AA meeting.

pianodoodle Tue 20-Aug-13 08:38:45

My DH goes to AA weekly. It's something that took a good while to face up to and get help for so I wouldn't ask him to cancel it for anything.

If anything at this early stage if I suggested he did he probably would. If your DH is at the stage where he is prioritising it and doesn't want to cancel I'd be pleased about it and even though you wanted him at the party I wouldn't mention it.

It could make matters worse to make him feel bad for going to AA as then he can't win. If he was drinking you'd be unhappy and if you're still being unhappy with him then it could be seen as a reason not to try so hard to stay sober...

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 09:24:22

Ok thanks guys - I've explored it from all angles and can see that I have got to suck it up, be a lone ranger socially, and be grateful he isn't drinking (which I am!).

Sometimes it can take a while to really figure out where I stand and I have nothing to compare it to, as I have never known anyone personally who is living with an alcoholic and so am just finding my way through like he is.

badguider Tue 20-Aug-13 09:30:48

I am really surprised at this thread - I go to sunday lunch at my mother in law's not because I'm deseperate to catch up with her (we have little in common) but to keep my husband company and show up 'as a family'. He does the same with my parents.

And when it comes to social events that revolve around children then either you get a fair share of them on and off or you both go together - it's not really fair that it's always 'mum' who does these things if both of you would prefer not to.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 10:35:39

badguider I was always of that opinion too, but from the pretty mutual responses here I was thinking I must be missing something.

I always felt that I was 'giving' to him by attending events alongside him as his partner, even if I would prefer to be somewhere else, and that it's an expected part of being in a reasonable and fair, giving, relationship.

thismousebites Tue 20-Aug-13 10:48:26

Also, OP, you state yourself that you will be drinking at the party. Maybe your DH knows this and will find it difficult. I know if I were in his position and my partner was standing next to me with a drink whilst I sipped soft drinks I would probably want to pass too.

UC Tue 20-Aug-13 10:48:29

atrcts, leaving the alcoholism aside (I have no experience of this), I also have a DP who would sometimes rather not go to social events. I am way more sociable than him, and need social contact with friends and family more than him. He is far happier than me just pottering about in his own company. It has been the cause of many an argument between us, and is something that we have had to reach a compromise on. That compromise is that when an invitation comes in, I prioritise whether I feel really strongly that I'd like him to come with me or not. If it's really important to me, I tell him that, and he usually then comes along. Or I tell him if it's something that I'd happily go to alone. I've also explained to him which of my friends it is important to me that he gets to know (we are both in our 40s and this is a second relationship for both of us). This is all with the understanding that of course I would rather he comes with me to everything, but I accept he just doesn't want to.

Like you, I have always gone along to events just to support, or to be there, and thought this was the norm. But I don't think it is for everyone, and to be honest, I've struggled with this with DP. Every so often, this argument still rears its head.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 10:51:30

thismousebites you read wrong! I said there wouldn't be alcohol as my Mum is also teetotal!

I haven't drunk in front of him for a year.

UC Tue 20-Aug-13 10:52:18

thismoustbites, when the OP said "I have got to suck it up, be a lone ranger socially, and be grateful he isn't drinking (which I am!)", I don't think she meant she is going to be drinking, she meant she is grateful that he isn't drinking.

OP has not said on this thread that she was drinking at her mum's do. She said there would be no drink there as her mum is tee total too! I think you've misunderstood.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 10:53:32

It's nice to know I'm not alone there UC wink

It's also hard to separate what is the person and what is the alcoholism, though I know they'll be linked just not always

Bonsoir Tue 20-Aug-13 10:54:11

You cannot expect your partner to attend every last party you or your DC want to go to with you.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 10:54:50

Thanks UC, you have definitely got the measure of what I'm saying (excuse the pun!)

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 11:17:15

Thing is bonsoir - an awful lot of parenting is about how it impacts on the kids, and if I'm feeling it that he doesn't want to go to anything with me (other than for his own family/friends), then I can't be surprised if the kids clock it and wish their Dad was there like everyone else's.

Don't forget te bigger picture, it's not always just because it's on an AA night, it's also because he just doesn't fancy it, nothing in it for him.

But! I don't want to have to teach them to just be glad their Dad is sober when it's actually because he's being selfish and nothing to do with booze.

There are loads of events I go to without him, but for my close friends and family I would have liked it of he could/would join in. He is my husband and the father of my children after all!

Like I said I'm finding my way.

thismousebites Tue 20-Aug-13 11:23:24

Sorry, your post at 9.24 left me thinking that your comment in brackets meant you were drinking, see now you meant grateful.

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 11:32:33

I think it's totally abnormal for partners to come along all the time to social events and would feel claustrophobic if they expected to
I would never expect a partner to attend a child's party - unless it was for our child's birthday, perhaps
OP, don't take it so personally. Some people are just like this, it's really not that big a deal and yes it's great he has been going to AA and not drinking. If you feel the kids pick up on it, stop letting it bother you. I couldn't tolerate the tedium of having to attend every single thing with a partner and children that was not relevant for me. If you want to go, you go, if you don't you don't. If an event comes up where it's really important he attends (I don't know, perhaps your best friend gets married) then make it clear to him it's important. For every other event stop taking it to heart.

Has he ever switched his AA night before? You said that while he used this as his reason for missing your mum's party, he would have switched if it had been for his friends or family. If this is definitely true and not just an assumption on your part, then I think YANBU really.

I think it's absolutely fine to be antisocial sometimes and I don't think partners should have to tag along for your sake. But family is a bit different. If he's really totally avoiding your family, that's pretty bad.

I definitely think you should talk to him about it, but in a concerned, open-minded, just want to know if everything's okay kind of way.

Bonsoir Tue 20-Aug-13 11:40:52

Maybe he's an introvert who used alcohol as his coping mechanism? Maybe he needs time on his own terms to stay sober? Forcing people to socialize is rarely a good idea.

Montybojangles Tue 20-Aug-13 11:43:55

I would imagine that he wanted to stick to his usual AA meeting night as that is the group of people he knows and who have supported his journey so far. I don't think it is unreasonable for him to miss the party for that.

Personally I'm with him on skipping a kids party if at all possible!

Does he find social situations stressful? Maybe it's hard for him to cope at gatherings without his old "crutch" alcohol. Have a chat with him about it, and try to agree to which ones matter more. My OH and I go to some things together, and some alone, I think that fairly common isn't it?

badguider Tue 20-Aug-13 11:46:50

FGS! THe OP doesn't say she want's him to come to everything just to some things.
She says:
"I'm feeling like he's increasingly being selfish about not attending anything that just doesn't suit him, which always seems to be anything to do with me!"

It sounds like he's just opted out of any kind of joint family social life or any socialising for his child's sake and is pottering around as a single man doing what he feels like all the time and then if the OP compares she's told she should be glad he's not drinking!!?? Well, I personally wouldn't be happy with that.

badguider Tue 20-Aug-13 11:48:24

And for those who hate kids parties, don't we all? Do you just tell your kids that they can't go to any of them?

Or do you suck it up and go to some of them, either taking turns or both going together for moral support?

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 11:49:55

I don't see what's wrong with it. I see a relationship destined to fracture if one party insists on someone going to things they don't want to, especially if they are newly sober. That seems more selfish to me than just opting out.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 11:50:26

Thing is bonsoir - an awful lot of parenting is about how it impacts on the kids, and if I'm feeling it that he doesn't want to go to anything with me (other than for his own family/friends), then I can't be surprised if the kids clock it and wish their Dad was there like everyone else's.

Don't forget te bigger picture, it's not always just because it's on an AA night, it's also because he just doesn't fancy it, nothing in it for him.

But! I don't want to have to teach them to just be glad their Dad is sober when it's actually because he's being selfish and nothing to do with booze.

There are loads of events I go to without him, but for my close friends and family I would have liked it of he could/would join in. He is my husband and the father of my children after all!

Like I said I'm finding my way.

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 11:50:57

If a couple turned up to my child's party I'd be hmm surprised

TwoStepsBeyond Tue 20-Aug-13 11:54:48

I think that missing your mum's party is a bigger deal than the child's party, so perhaps concentrate on that one when you speak to him. The AA meeting was of course very important, but if you know he would have moved it to a different night to accommodate his own family/priorities then it does seem sad that he won't do the same for you and your family.

I would try not to make too big a deal of it, but just say that you'd like him there with you next time as everyone else has their partners and children with them and you miss him being there by your side. Especially where there is no alcohol to complicate matters he should be make a bit of an effort to support you, as you are doing for him.

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 12:06:26

I find MNet odd on stuff like this.

On any thread where it is patently obvious that the man in the situation described is behaving selfishly or unreasonably, there will always be a few posters who not only argue that it's reasonable for men to behave this way, a rogue minority will even try to make the woman OP feel inferior and somehow lacking for not wanting to be responsible for children at every social event, while the father/husband involved enjoys child-free time doing what ever he pleases. I really think when posters do this, it's more about their issues and not the OP's. You'll never see those posters arguing that it's men's responsibility to keep a social diary going, or that it's reasonable for women to duck out of things they don't fancy.

OP, this is selfish and unreasonable behaviour on your husband's part.

If this is a recent trend, I'd start looking for reasons why he might have checked out from relationships and social events that are important to you and the children. For example, everyone I've ever known to be having an affair did the same for the duration of the affair. They don't want the scrutiny or other people to notice odd behaviour that might have gone undetected by a busy wife/husband, plus seeing close friends and family members and playing 'happy families' makes some feel guilty- and that's uncomfortable.

Crinkle77 Tue 20-Aug-13 12:09:33

I can't blame him for not wanting to attend your friends party. I do think he was BU for not attending your mums party. That is just rude.

FitzgeraldProtagonist Tue 20-Aug-13 13:03:03

What FrancescaBell said. I went to monthly events with my kids and the NCT families. The children's father was NEVER there. I felt like such a loner. The other dads would take it in turns to give me a hand with the kids. I felt so embarrassed. He wouldn't come to parties, he wouldn't ever visit my family or parents. On the rare occasion he did he behaved so badly I was punished for begging asking him to go. I spent one month of the year at his family home so the could see the children (different country). And a week or so with in laws. NOT FAIR. Now an ex.

TBH my fist thought was 'affair' or decline in feelings. It is about being supported. Hand holding, particularly if difficult family relationships. Not facing alone. OP said the kid's party was not a standard drop and go but all family invite type thing (Could be booze at this, some parent usually pitches up with wine, doesn't want to ask, doesn't want to risk it). But the mother party thing, YANBU.

Current DP, I spend more time with his ILs than he does, because I like them! He will spend time with mine, but not always. He wouldn't come over to my mums or my friends the other weekend. But usually does. It makes me feel very rejected (though this is a hangover from relationship described above-my issue). Like my friends and family aren't good enough. I love meeting up with his. Though my children are a handful and babysitters are rare, we often don't go to socialise with his friends and family together. I wonder if he doesn't like sharing/the dynmanic change?

Anyway, YANBU.

SelectAUserName Tue 20-Aug-13 13:05:06

I can be a bit like your husband, OP. Not so much with my DH's family - of which he has very little, tbh - but with friends he has had in the past who I haven't liked very much. I've taken the view that HE chose to be friends with them, not me, so if he chose to spend time with them that was fine but not to expect me to join him as a matter of course. However, if there were particular occasions when he really wanted/needed me there I would go, and put on a happy smiling "yes, we must do this more often" face to his friends and not whinge or huff about it to my DH before or afterwards. He was very good about not abusing the frequency with which he asked me to join him and I tried very hard to be good about not complaining about going or letting on to his friends that I didn't really want to be there. (I also support him willingly in other ways, e.g. volunteering to accompany him to medical appointments for his ongoing health problems so I'm not a completely selfish cow!)

Family is slightly different, obviously, and in a family with no major dysfunction I'd expect a certain amount of 'putting up' with family socialising from both partners, even if it wouldn't be your favourite thing. Similarly with children's parties; I'm sure YOU could think of "better ways to spend your day than at a child's party" as well, but you both need to suck it up for the sake of your children. Your DH does sound very selfish there.

The AA meeting / mum's birthday is tricky because on the one hand his AA meeting is almost equivalent to treatment for an illness and if it had been a medical appointment that your mum's party clashed with, you might not have felt quite the same? I agree that 'his' evening session probably has regulars with whom he feels comfortable and with whom he has possibly developed a sort of 'shorthand', so nothing wrong on the face of it with wanting to stick his routine and comfort zone for something so important. However, I'd bet good money that when he heard which night the party was taking place, the thought "excellent, I've got a cast-iron excuse not to go" or something similar went through his head.

There could be many complex reasons why he feels so unsociable, from it being tied in with his alcoholism to being one of life's natural hermits to being stressed about something else (work situation? Lack of work situation if unemployed?) to having something you don't know about going on e.g. an affair, as mentioned above, to simply him being a bit of a selfish entitled arse. I think you need to talk to him about it, so he can understand why having his support at these events is important to you and you can understand why he feels such reluctance, and hopefully agree a compromise that you can both work with.

Floggingmolly Tue 20-Aug-13 13:08:28

His presence at your child's friend's party was definitely not required (neither, I suspect, was yours) hmm

FredFredGeorge Tue 20-Aug-13 13:12:07

It is not selfish or unreasonable to decline social invitations you don't want to attend, particularly when it's your partners family and friends.

Not going to support your partner when they're going for a worrying hospital appointment so you can watch TV - that's unreasonable.

Expecting your partner to do something they don't enjoy when you don't need the support is unreasonable - If you're going to a party you enjoy, what sort of "support" do you need?

OP: "I am always going to events that he organises though, out of support for him, even of it doesn't interest me. "

Has he asked you to do that, or have you decided that you should go? Why would you do it?

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 13:30:33

I'd imagine that most parents would value the 'support' of their fellow parent in being jointly responsible for the children at social events. I don't understand these snarky comments about adults going to a children's party either. Why do people assume (it seems) that the OP is an oddbod who insists on going to children's parties where no other parents will be in attendance? Isn't it more likely that the party to which she refers is one that lots of other mums and dads will be going to? A party where it would be more noticeable and odd for a father not to attend than it would for adults to be present?

Again, this is where MNet is odd and wholly unlike real-life interactions.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 20-Aug-13 13:37:20

In the OP it states that everyone else had their Dad there.

ilovesooty Tue 20-Aug-13 13:41:57

I think going to his meeting on his regularnnight is far more important than any family party.

I don't see why the kids' party thing is such a big deal either. It sounds a bit weird to me that all those couples were expected to be there.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 20-Aug-13 13:49:38

not if you are having a party for the grown ups as well as the children. I have done this when it is a small child's birthday, hosted the adults too. I didn't make them eat jelly and ice cream.

The OP states that he opting out a lot, and gave two examples of this. The two examples are not the sum total of his opting out.

As for the AA meeting, I think if there was an option of going on a different day to enable him to attend his MIL's birthday party then he should have done this.

ilovesooty Tue 20-Aug-13 14:04:32

Sorry I disagree. Something like AA is a shared journey and it's important that it's consistent. I don't see how either he or either group would benefit from going on a different night if he were not an established part of another group

I think that's more important than any other social occasion and any other party.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 20-Aug-13 15:17:19

Well, I am prepared to be wrong about the AA meeting, but has the OP's DH ever missed another meeting for a different reason? Or gone on another day because it is more convenient to him?

Montybojangles Tue 20-Aug-13 15:36:08

I have to agree with ilovesooty regarding the AA meetings, I would imagine the people in his group are as important as the meeting itself.

I also wonder what caused his alcohol addiction in the first place. Often alcoholics struggle with social situations and/or depression and alcohol gets them through. If he doesn't have alcohol to help, he may be avoiding as many stressful situations as possible.

For most of us these gatherings might be a bit of a chore, for him they may be a hideous, stressful nightmare. The op is only going to know if she starts a non-confrontational discussion with her DH about his reasons for avoiding these gatherings. It's possible he is being a selfish arse, but it's equally possible he has a good reason for it. His own family gatherings would be a lot less of a stressor for him.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 16:12:10

The confusing part of it is he says the group is never the same. Sometimes there are 30 people, sometimes 60. And they're often completely different faces from weeks to week.

He also tells me that there are 2 available meets every day of the week. He talks as though people picks and chose, and chop and change, although he hasn't been that way so far. He's only been attending AA for about 3-4 months, even though he's been dry over a year, so he hasn't experiment with meetings yet.

He's never made noises to the effect that it has to be the same night, quite the opposite; he's made out it its normal practice to go chopping and changing all the time.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 16:17:15

I am making the assumption that he would chose another night for his family, based on the fact that he has missed meetings before but always with a reason that suits him (working or not feeling well enough etc).

And he's often talked about his plan to do what everyone else does and try a different group, so you'd be forgiven to think that might be an excellent opportunity to do just that!

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 16:25:57

Will people please try to stop fixating on the kids party appropriateness?!!!! I made it clear we're close friends and treated like extended family. There were 8 families invited with ALL of their kids and partners, it wasn't the "ditch your kids at the door" event. It would have been an abuse of the hosts to leave them with my kids to babysit!

As it was it was uncomfortable enough to be the only one whose husband didn't attend, when everyone knew he's around.

He's been several times before and never complained, he's also had the same couple to our house - he enjoyed the BBQ and got on with everyone really well.

It's a new development to decline the party, but to be fair he was drinking before and now isn't, so socially I'm sure it's different for him, as was pointed out to me earlier in this thread.

However that too is confusing, as he tells me that his confidence has soared socially since the guilt of drinking (and hiding it) has been removed. So you'd expect he would be more willing to join in, not less!!

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 16:29:19

Also, he can request the same night off work (loads of other people at work do), but he refuses to. This means if he's given an AA night to work he is happy to miss it. He never makes any attempt to be there especially, or else he'd request it without giving a reason to work )also standard practice).

CinnabarRed Tue 20-Aug-13 16:35:13

My DFather is an alcoholic. Mostly, he's been dry for more than 20 years. However, he has twice to my knowledge fallen off the wagon, both during times of intense personal stress due to ill health.

He tends to go to the same AA meetings each week. Yes, you can chop and change to other meetings, and the people who are there are somewhat fluid. But there will be a 'core' of people who attend that meeting every week, who know each other's weak spots and foibles particularly well. It is important to my DF to see them regularly.

The thing is - being dry for one year, while completely and entirely laudable, means nothing in terms of predicting whether your DH will still be dry in a year's time. You write as if your DH is now 'cured'. He isn't, and he never will be. He may well have to attend AA meetings for the rest of his life. He will be at risk of lapsing for the rest of his life. He will struggle to battle alcohol for the rest of his life.

Every morning, DF promises DM that he won't drink today. That's the most he can promise.

mynewpassion Tue 20-Aug-13 16:42:43

So he's only not gone to the AA meetings because of work and illness?

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 16:46:44

Thanks.

I do expect him to always go to AA meetings, but am interested that you're experience is that they need to go to the same meeting. I wonder why so many don't if it's that important? Hubby hadn't picked up on that part as he talks of it as though moving around isn't a problem.

He has said that it will always be a battle for him and that complacency is the biggest enemy of all. I can appreciate that. That is in fact the very reason I started this thread, I know this is it, and I need to know where I stand in it all.

I really want to be reasonable. But to ALL of us. Him. Me. Our kids.

CinnabarRed Tue 20-Aug-13 17:01:49

I do expect him to always go to AA meetings, but am interested that you're experience is that they need to go to the same meeting. I wonder why so many don't if it's that important? Hubby hadn't picked up on that part as he talks of it as though moving around isn't a problem.

I'm not sure that I'm best placed to answer that, but I will do my best to explain how DF explained it to me.

Basically, DF says that any meeting is better than no meeting. So in that sense he would rather move to another one if the alternative was not going at all (and DF don't just mean is he was ill one night, or on holiday, or similar - he has definitely missed a week or two in those situations). Some people will always fall into that category - if they have very irregular shift patterns, or travel for business, for example.

DF has also rocked up to any meeting when he's been having a crisis so that ome meeting per week isn't enough.

But his regular meeting is better than just any old meeting. And there are two main reasons for that.

The first is because he's more comfortable with the core regulars, who already know his background and weaknesses. Being more comfortable, he is also more open and honest with them.

The second is that the core regulars, because they know his background and weaknesses, and also because some of them have become friends as well, are much more likely to spot when he's getting nearer the edge and pull him up on it. Gently and supportively, but they're willing to say "Hang on, DF, that sounds a bit like when you were trying to justify x, y and z last April, and you know where that ended..." or similar.

Overall, he has a much better 'experience' from his regular meetings.

TBH, given your DH has been attending for a relatively short time, he may not yet appreciate all of the benefits. Or, perhaps, he won't ever feel the way that DF does about his regular meeting people. Maybe he hasn't yet found the 'right' regular meeting for him. They each have their own 'character'. DF has, very rarely but on more then one occasion, changed his regular meeting as new people have joined and old ones have moved on and the 'character' has changed.

I do think the fact that he has only missed his regular meetings for illness or work is quite important.

CinnabarRed Tue 20-Aug-13 17:04:06

...and DF doesn't just mean if he was ill one night....

....so that one meeting per week....

Sorry.

zatyaballerina Tue 20-Aug-13 17:05:12

yabu, if he doesn't want to go somewhere, he shouldn't have to. Maybe he likes the time to himself, introverts need that to recharge (and stay sane) and it's important for him to take care of himself so he can remain strong enough to stay sober.

foreverondiet Tue 20-Aug-13 17:06:56

I think yabu to expect him to go to a kids party - they are boring for adults and only compelled to you to your own child's party - wouldn't worry about missing niece or nephew party if my dh was there with kids. Also AA should be seen as totally non negotiable. That being said if its an adult weekend party and doesn't clash with AA or work yes you should expect him to go. Fair enough to not want to go in week if tired from work. You sound a bit high maintenance....

Viviennemary Tue 20-Aug-13 17:11:41

I don't blame him for not wanting to go to a children's party. If he goes to more important events such as weddings and Christmas I think you should be satisfied with that for the time being under the circumstances. It must be difficult for you but on the other hand he is fighting a very difficult addiction.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 17:17:56

Cinnabared - that character you speak of is exactly the reason he is interested to explore other groups, so yeah, your definitely onto something smile

CinnabarRed Tue 20-Aug-13 17:21:12

Maybe he's scared that he'll try another group and find it's still not for him?

He is still in the very earliest days of his recovery. I know it doesn't feel like it to you, but I'd bet all the money in my pocket (37p grin) that it does to him.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 17:21:25

Foreveronadiet - your name sounds like you could be more high maintenance than I'll ever be!

I'd like to kindly point out that one of my past posts I said "I want to be reasonable to all of us - him, me, our kids".

High maintenance isn't reasonable!

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 17:21:50

OP how sure are you that he is actually attending AA when he says he is?

What else have you noticed about his behaviour lately? Is he intimate with you? Does he still seem as connected to you as before?

Wouldntyouliketoknow Tue 20-Aug-13 17:22:36

OP I feel sorry for you - this thread seems to have been very misinterpreted and people are fixating on the wrong things! It's clearly not about his alcohol addiction (OP has made it VERY clear there was no alcohol at MIL's party, as well as the fact that he could have gone to an AA meeting on another day, the same people don't go every week etc...).
Also the 'child's party' was clearly more like a get-together for friends, in which he was the only dad not there. In both cases he should have gone, IMO.

YANBU, OP!

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 17:23:51

CinnabarRed Possibly, although the groups are on different nights and so he could go to both in the same week and not miss out on his usual routine.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 17:28:27

Thanks wouldyouliketoknow grin

It's easy to be derailed and you've brought it back to the original point.

I saw it was leading elsewhere but because I am interested in exploring more of his alcoholism (not had much chance to yet, though intend to get to alanon one of these days), so I let myself be led that way.

But I appreciate you for seeing where I am coming from smile

Blistory Tue 20-Aug-13 17:45:17

I don't think anyone posting that he should really go to these events really understands what it's like to be shy or introverted.

It's not a matter of just supporting you. You might find these events a bit of a chore, OP, but ultimately you'd probably enjoy it. An introvert will go to please you but will find it excruciating. There is no enjoyment not because it's a chore, but because it's distressing, it's difficult and it reinforces all the negative thoughts that you have about yourself.

It's okay to be gregarious and outgoing in society but it's somehow antisocial to be quieter and introverted.

Can you imagine being tongue tied with people that you speak to every day and that you can converse with okay on a 1-1 basis ? Can you imagine standing there thinking that everyone is looking at you wondering why you're not being more sociable ? Can you imagine dreading someone asking you a question because your brain filters every answer and then you realise you've been standing apparently mute for 5 minutes ? Can you imagine what it's like to realise that it's been 2 hours and you haven't said a word ? Because you brain is processing what you should be saying and what you should be doing but nothing comes out of your mouth or what does is awkward and stilting. It's suffocating and paralysing and the only relief comes when the crowd diminishes or you leave. Alcohol gets you through these situations and disguises it.

And it weirdly doesn't apply to every situation. You have nothing invested in a stranger so what does it matter if they think you're a bit strange. It's easier to speak in a group where you're an expert in the subject, i.e. alcoholism. And yet, a group of friends and family on a lazy Sunday afternoon can be intimidating.

I think if he's an introvert then you have to try to understand what it's like for him - he might genuinely want to support you but the cost to his mental well being is just too much, particularly when he's a recovering alcoholic.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 17:55:43

Blistory - I wish you could meet him, he's definitely not an introvert!!!!!

But even the most extrovert of us can feel self conscious given the right environment, and I'm sure we all feel more relaxed with a skin full!

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 18:00:59

I didn't get the impression he was an introvert either.

Nor did I get the impression that you were in the habit of attending children's parties as the sole adult.

Mainly because you gave no impression whatsoever of either.

Baffling how these threads go.

You've said consistently that this is new and recent behaviour.

There is of course a reason for that.

CinnabarRed Tue 20-Aug-13 18:04:12

Extrovert doesn't mean outgoing - it means that you recharge your batteries from company. Equally, introverted doesn't mean shy or self-conscious - it means that you recharge your batteries from soliture. You can be the life and soul of the party but still be an introvert if attending the party costs you more 'energy' than you get back from it.

With respect, I don't agree with either your or WYLTK's assessment that he can just move his AA day willy-nilly. Neither do I think that his alcoholism is a red herring.

I do urge you to make the time to do to AlAnon. I know it's hard with other commitments, but really try. Hell, I know this is patronising (not even that it sounds patronising, it is patronising, I'm sorry for that) but I don't get the sense from your posts that you understand alcoholism at all. And why should you, it's only been touching your life for a relatively short time. But you owe it to youself, your DCs and your husband to understand his boundaries and struggles. Both to know what he can acheive, and what he can't- and when he's confusing the two, either deliberately or unconciously. Don't let him get away with swinging the lead, but equally don't demand of him what he can't give.

WingDefence Tue 20-Aug-13 18:22:07

OP I think YANBU. I also think that if you had posted with different examples than a family do for a son's birthday and your DMum's event that clashed with an AA meeting you would have got a different majority response.

Saying that, it looks like you've had some good advice re the AA attendance from other posters so hopefully you've got something from that.

I still think you're not BU though. Next time it's an event that he doesn't 'feel like he gets anything out of', perhaps remind him of events you've attended to support him socially or that you didn't 'get anything from' and ask if he minds if you don't bother going to those in future? It would be a shame though if you started to lead increasingly separate lives.

One question, do you tell your DH that people ask after him at these events and if so, what does he say?

OTheHugeManatee Tue 20-Aug-13 18:31:45

I'm with Cinnabar and Blistory on this, a bit. Though I'm outspoken, confident, a good public speaker and would not come across as an introvert, I will sometimes make excuses to avoid family gatherings on DH's side.

I show up enough to fly the flag and not look rude, but they gather a LOT and sometimes the last thing I want to do is sit around making chit-chat, unable to get away from DH's large, friendly, noisy extended family. They are lovely people; I just struggle to cope with all of them for long periods.

Equally, though, if he is opting out of all family/husband type appearances save the ones on his side then that's not really fair and I think you're within your rights to ask him to show up with you, even if it's not all the time.

I think the key really is: is he turning up enough to not appear rude? If so, or it's borderline, perhaps it would be worth talking to your DH a bit more to understand his rationale for avoiding some gatherings? I don't think this situation is clearcut YABU or HIBU but more one that you need to sort out by having an open, empathetic kind of discussion about and try to meet each other in the middle.

Blistory Tue 20-Aug-13 18:37:29

Sorry, it was just that you referred to him earlier as socially shy.

I can meet someone one to one and the last thing they would describe me as is shy or introverted. I am, however, both those things.

Meet me at a party and you'd call me antisocial. And I'm not, it's just that I'm dying inside and it doesn't matter what the event is. Funerals, weddings, parties - it takes all my courage and will power to attend and I'm only doing it because it's expected of me. Society welcomes the life and soul even if they are loud and obnoxious but it judges and condemns those of us who are quieter as being selfish and antisocial.

And there is no rhyme nor reason as to what events trigger my need to make my excuses and not go. I just wondered if he's reached a point where he's realised that, without the crutch of alcohol, these events may well be too much for him.

But I do understand why it's frustrating for you - society also expects couples to attend events as a couple and attending without your spouse or partner is seen as some sort of statement.

Bowlersarm Tue 20-Aug-13 18:43:29

YANBU.

I would hate to keep turning up at social events by myself without DH. It's hardly being part of a loving couple.

Could you get him to compromise and go to those that really matter to you, and maybe skip the ones you don't mind going to alone? You need to speak to to him seriously if he's becoming increasingly not keen to support you socially.

I don't think you're wrong, OP, AA meeting or not. I'd hate it.

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 20:16:41

I agree AA non negotiable

Francesca. I really feel sorry for OP's DH I don't think it's necessary to say he's having an affair? Of course he will have changed, he is no longer an addict and that is a huge journey for him that he is presumably making for his own health and the future of his family.

OP you do sound high maintenance from your expectations and needs

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 20:30:48

Er...I didn't say he was having an affair.

I suggested the OP explored that possibility, based on similar behaviour I've seen in people having affairs.

I don't think it's necessary or desirable to tell an OP that she sounds 'high maintenance' for expecting her partner and co-parent to attend important family and social events. I simply don't understand what possesses some MNetters to make an OP feel inadequate and unreasonable for having what are in my experience, fairly standard expectations of a male partner and co-parent.

I expect if there was a thread from a woman where she said she expected her husband to attend family and social events alone with the children because she didn't fancy going along, she would be lynched.

It seems only men get to opt out of these things and furthermore, attract sympathy for having an addiction that has caused misery.

On MNet though - nowhere else in my experience.

Maybe he feels the urge to drink really strongly when he feels obligated to attend a social event he'd rather not?

CinnabarRed Tue 20-Aug-13 20:40:34

IME women who opt out of things for the benefit of their mental health get sympathy here, and rightly so, but that's by the by. We don't know that that is what the DH is doing.

I guess that's what I meant when I said learn his new capabilities, but don't let him swing the lead.

OP, would it help to post a couple more examples of him opting out?

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 20:46:11

it's nothing to do with him being male or female. If he doesn't want to go to something he shouldn't have to, especially when OP seems to want him to go to many things and seems therefore high maintenance. No offence meant to OP I doubt she's anything like that in reality but from posts of needing support etc, for normal social gatherings - we're not talking a close relative's funeral here, or Christmas day- is in my view, a bit needy.

cafecito Tue 20-Aug-13 20:50:05

you're making this a sex issue - I don't get it. I wouldn't think the responses would be different if it were a DH posting about his DW not going to a party either. I don't know why any adult would go to a child's party unless specifically asked to stay and I can't stand my ILs for 5 mins or my own family for that matter. My friends are my friends and I get on better with them when I see them as just me. We all have different tolerance levels of drivel and torment and maybe he has maxed his out.

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 20:56:13

As far as I can see, the OP hasn't disclosed the ages of her children. I'd judge them to be young though if they are attending another child's party.

It's simply not fair if you've got young children to be the only parent expected to keep an eye on them at social events, while your co-parent is able to attend, chooses not to and gets child-free time to himself.

Beyond this, the OP has consistently stated that these are events he would have been expected by the hosts and other guests to attend. It must be very uncomfortable to her to have to keep offering his excuses, which she is probably doing to spare the hosts and other guests' feelings, who might be hurt and pissed off by him if she told the truth, which is that he just didn't want to be there.

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 20:59:22

The OP has said over and over again that this child's party was one where adult friends and family were also attending. I've been to tons of parties like that and have held them myself. It's really not unusual in close friendship circles.

Beaverfeaver Tue 20-Aug-13 21:01:40

Life's too short to go to things you don't want to go to.

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 21:04:05

I didn't want to go to toddler groups or soft play. I did it though, because it wouldn't have been fair on DH to do it on his own or to deprive the DCs of an experience I knew they'd enjoy. That's family life isn't it?

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 21:12:20

I dont remember saying I particularly need support? Can you pleae find me the specific time I apparently posted this?!!!!

As far as I'm concerned I've made it clear that I have OFFERED my support to HIM by accompanying him to his special events. He hates being alone at the best of times, unlike me!

But although I like my own company, I do look for a partner to "play" with me (and the kids) socially, and notice when it changes from being willing to beginning to refuse.

As for giving him a hard time? I haven't even discussed this with him yet. As I've said; I'm doing my homework before I broach it. He didn't Ask how it went at my Mum's birthday, and I didn't mention it either.

Other examples on the past month are (off the top of my head);

1. Reluctance in attending the last day of preschool for our son - it was an open day with bouncy castle and there were LOADS of Dad's there. No booze.

2. Turning down an invitation for breakfast out with my brother and his wife. No booze there either. and it wouldn't have interrupted any lie-in as he's an early bird.

3. Reluctance to meet up for sunday lunch with old buddies (he's known them a long time and only likes to see them if they visit our house - on his terms) they also know about his drinking and are sympathetic/understanding. No booze there.

4. The kids party I mentioned which was also an adult BBQ in the daytime .

5. My mums birthday coffee and cakes (only between 7-9:30pm!) as I've also mentioned.

During this time he's attended a meal out with his aunty, and 3 bbq's (1 hosted by his sibling with their friends present, and 2 were hosted by him here, with only his family).

StickEmUp Tue 20-Aug-13 21:12:26

theres so much I could say on this but not sure where to start.

I go to AA, and I'm 5.5 years sober now. I still find some parties a bit weird. For various reasons depending on whose going, why, etc.

for the most part I am fine. I am definitely and extrovert.

Maybe, as this behaviour has just begun, he has realised he doesnt like parties without a drink.

they ARE different. I'm usually fine, but when it gets silly and people repeat themsleves it gets odd.

And as for kids and non drinking parties, chances are he used to drink there (secretly?) and find them okay because of that.

I guess really, if he is an alchoholic and you dont want him to die of it it's something that has to happen.

People do grow apart when someone enters recovery at times.
He is a different person without the drink.

Sorry I'm a bit vague, it's either this on an essay you wont have time to get though.

PM me of you like. anyone is welcome to do that to find out more.

StickEmUp Tue 20-Aug-13 21:14:08

the 'no booze' part doesnt matter. some alkies drink and you dont even know. at all times of the day.

StickyFloor Tue 20-Aug-13 21:17:23

I think you should prioritise with him when invitiations arrive. Point out that some events are really important to you, others you would love him to go but understand if he doesn't.

FWIW dh and I are now in a pattern where he regularly socialises without me because I am happiest at home and life is too short to go to functions I hate with people I don't really like. I know he would prefer me to go to more things but he understands that I really hate it. Both of us understand family things on both sides though as these are non-negotiable, but they only happen 4 - 6 weeks or so.

You are also going to have to be brave about openly saying to people that dh won't be coming as he isn't much of a party type. DH says this about me and if anyone is offended they certainly haven't let on, and frankly I don't give a stuff anyway.

CinnabarRed Tue 20-Aug-13 21:45:15

I posted on another thread today that I hate the old "alcoholism is a disease" thing, because some - not all, some - alcoholics use it as a reason to abdicate their responsibility to manage their addiction.

But, I can't have it both ways. I can't condemn this man if avoiding social events is somehow his way of managing his addiction. I just can't.

OP, you know him and we don't. All I can suggest is learn about this man you find yourself married to, because he surely isn't the same man he was a year ago.

Maybe his recovery has turned him into a selfish arse. Maybe any social event brings him untold struggles with his sobriety. Maybe he isn't an extrovert any more. Maybe it's something else. You don't have to put up with shit. He has no right to expect you to like the new him. All you can do is talk.

FrancescaBell Tue 20-Aug-13 21:55:02

So to paraphrase, he's refusing to attend events that previously he would have attended willingly?

You'd like him to come to at least some of these events, to have his company and for the children's sake too?

It's not that you need 'support' or that you're 'high maintenance'.

You're just feeling a bit puzzled and worried about the change in him and want advice on how to approach it, as you don't want this to become your usual way of operating as a family?

If I've paraphrased that correctly, I think it would be helpful to do some thinking and recollecting before you tackle this.

It might be connected to him being dry, but then again it might not.

It might also be a case of replacing one addiction for another, which is extremely common. So if it's an affair for example, it could be linked to the primary addiction, but in its own right it could be causing this withdrawal from things involving you and the family.

What's his behaviour towards you and when did you start to notice the change in him?

Obviously, it's possible there's someone else, as it's never possible to state categorically that there isn't, but what do you think is causing this?

It makes sense to consider every likely reason, do a bit of thinking and reflecting and then discuss it with him.

Bottom line is you need to state your expectations and it's important not to be made to feel unreasonable for having them.

atrcts Tue 20-Aug-13 22:48:16

FranchescaBell you paraphrase perfectly.

I can't put my finger on when it started. Initially when he gave up drink he was awful to live with, picking fights over every little thing, like a bear with a sore head! That settled down after about 3-4 months. It was quite nice for a while as his memory had improved and he was more energetic, and would stay out past 3pm (when previously he'd start drinking heavily and so had to be at home with the drinks cabinet).

But over time there's been this slow deterioration of interest in socialising with my friend and family. Don't forget , over time they've become familiar with him too, not complete strangers. The change didn't come suddenly, but became increasingly more obvious especially of late. Plus people start to smell a rat that something's up as they haven't seen him in a long time, or that I'm always alone and I'm starting to be put on the spot a bit.

CinnabarRed you're right - I do need to get to know the new him (and where the kids and I fit into that picture). He's always been a bit selfish but its worsened now he's sober. Getting to know the new him is tricky and takes time, and I am a little hesitant to broach it officially with him because I am a little concerned about how it could cause him a problem. But of course I know i can't just let it ride forever as that's also unhealthy. That's why I've put the feelers out here, to test the waters and explore what's going on without using HIM as my sounding board.

Bonsoir Tue 20-Aug-13 23:02:17

Crikey. You live in a social whirl. Not everyone can manage that.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 03:27:51

It's summer, everyone's having birthdays, and we've just had a baby, so lots of 'unusual' catching-up. It's not always that busy all year round.
Not sure I could keep it up myself either, if it was!

CinnabarRed Wed 21-Aug-13 04:57:31

I am a little hesitant to broach it officially with him because I am a little concerned about how it could cause him a problem

There's a difference between being supportive of his (note his, not yours, not even yours-as-a-couple) recovery, and tiptoeing around him for the rest of his life.

Remember the 3 C's of addiction:
- you didn't Cause his addiction
- you can't Control his addiction
- you can't Cure his addiction

It is his responsibility to manage his addiction, not yours. It's not fair if you can never raise any issue with him again for fear that his reaction will be to turn back to alcohol.

No reasonable person could possibly take offence at FrancescaBell's summary of the situation. An appropriate reaction from him might be to discuss the changes in his behaviour, explain why they have happened, and agree parameters for future behaviour. Or to apologise for being a selfish arse.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 07:54:56

I like franchescaBell's last post very much too.

I re-read the last paragraph about being reasonable expecting more of a partnership in the relationship (now I'm paraphrasing!) and can see you're saying the same.

I also like your 3 c's. I have looked up alanon again and will finally get myself there (the sooner the better).

CinnabarRed Wed 21-Aug-13 09:02:21

Sadly, it's not all that uncommon for alcoholics to dry out and for their relationship to fail anyway, because their partner discovers that the dry person is so very different from the drinking one. Not necessarily that either person in the relationship is in the wrong, just that the non-alcoholic partner realises that the relationship they're in isn't the one they signed up for. If someone married a social butterfly but ends up with a home body then that can be a big change - for some, too big a change.

But, clearly, far more relationships fail if the alcoholic doesn't stop drinking, so overall your DH drying out is only a good thing!

Bonsoir Wed 21-Aug-13 10:11:08

I don't agree with "You didn't cause his (her) addiction". Partners (or family members) often drive one another to drink/drugs etc...

Floggingmolly Wed 21-Aug-13 10:19:33

But actual addiction only occurs if you're predisposed to it in the first place, Bonsoir. Not everyone is.

0utnumbered Wed 21-Aug-13 10:46:01

The kids party thing, I find it pretty hard to believe that ALL dads went! so there were no single parents, no dads at work or anything? My partner has come to the only child's party my son has been invited to so far as it was his first ever one and we are friends with the parents (my son is only 23 months old, was 18 months at the time) plus I was pregnant at the time so wouldn't be able to play in all areas of the soft play with my son or go get him if he got stuck in certain bits. He really enjoyed it but I don't think he would as much as the kids get older and don't need us to play with them at a party & help them any more. When my son goes to parties I think he will be happy to stay at home with the other child if they aren't both invited.

With regards to the AA meeting, I would support anything he needed to do in order to recover. My mum would also be upset if she found out he had missed a medical thing like this on her behalf.

FrancescaBell Wed 21-Aug-13 10:48:34

The 'You Made Me Do It' brand of defensiveness for shitty behaviour is reserved for children who know no better, isn't it?

Or goady fuckers who get validated by having a dig at other women on an internet forum...

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 12:06:57

Outnumbered - you are essentially calling me a liar!

There were 8 COUPLES, all with kids. No parents working on Saturday (High proportion of society) and I was the only parent without a partner, my child was the only one without his Dad there.

Whether you find it hard to believe or not, it is true.

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 12:14:39

Coming out of addiction he will be vulnerable and rediscovering thoughts, emotions and perceptions that have been buried as well as finding out who he is and dealing with inconsistent mood. I think overcoming these hurdles is incredibly challenging and draining and social occasions are not only not a priority but can seem very daunting.

I think suggesting that he might be having an affair is less than helpful

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 12:25:50

Ilovesooty - you're quite right, he's described it as an awakening of emotions that have been previously stunted through suppression of alcoholism. We're talking ever since he was 15 years old. Any emotional journey can be completely bewildering and dare I say it possibly harder for a man to admit to/acknowledge, because to some degree society still expects men to deal less with emotions (plus maybe they're wired differently and slightly inhibited as a result of all combined factors?).

Floggingmolly Wed 21-Aug-13 12:26:43

Your child didn't need his Dad there, unless it was a pretty dismal children's party. Did he even notice?

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 12:33:27

atrcts That experience is certainly true of what my clients tell me about their journey out of addiction, and yes, I think that emotional awareness is much more difficult for men. Great that he is sharing it with you but it's all the more crucial that he takes as much support as possible from a trusted group at AA.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 12:46:44

FloggingMolly - actually yes. There were at least 2 incidents where I felt sorry for him. I was feeding my baby and he wanted to have a go on the swings, so someone else's Dad left their own child to come over and step in for a bit.

Later I was in the middle of a nappy explosion ( you know how time consuming that can be?) and everyone else's parents had filled a plate of food for their kids , he was the only one standing looking lost. Again we were rescued by the hosts, but when I went outside on the patio I found him sitting alone with all the othe kids eating with their parents. It was just painfully obvious.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 12:48:13

And it wasn't a dismal party! They're lovely people.

CinnabarRed Wed 21-Aug-13 12:53:05

That does sound hard.

For me, what it comes down to is this: is your DH absolving himself of attending these occasions because he needs to for his sobriety, or because he wants to on selfish grounds?

You'll only find out by talking to him.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 12:55:06

Ilovesooty - yes I'm slowly getting how vital the AA part is. I just didn't see how it can't shift to a different day or time to accommodate for other things in life, so the penny is dropping slowly.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 12:58:14

CinnabarRed - that party was not at an AA meeting time or day so nothing to do with AA, but possibly to do with any social shyness he may feel without alcohol (am keeping an open mind here).

At the time his response was because he couldn't be bothered and because he had better ways to spend his Saturday.

I think he probably want a break from the kids being around too. Understandable. However we could have organised that before or after the party and he did go to the party quite happily the year before, so that one was a bit of a surprise.

CinnabarRed Wed 21-Aug-13 13:01:56

At the time his response was because he couldn't be bothered and because he had better ways to spend his Saturday.

I think he probably want a break from the kids being around too. Understandable. However we could have organised that before or after the party and he did go to the party quite happily the year before, so that one was a bit of a surprise.

That's not OK. Not without a proper discussion about it anyway.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 13:12:23

Hard to filter what's drink related and whats just the new him!

FrancescaBell Wed 21-Aug-13 13:20:51

So you've got very young children and one of them is a baby and your husband is treating himself to child-free time while you attend these social functions on your own?

Maybe now posters will see the massive unfairness in that scenario.

I also hope you won't get any more posts about the children's party, or about your social life (which sounds completely normal to me, incidentally).

I think it's very helpful to hear from posters who understand alcohol addiction and the impact it can have on not just the alcoholic, but his family, but as Cinnebar advises, it's important not to put all the blame for this on alcoholism. No-one is only the sum of their illness or addiction.

Even without the alcoholism, it's possible your husband would be selfish and withdrawing from family life right now anyway.

My main advice to you is to stand back and not to feel you have to diagnose one main reason for this behaviour; there could be several reasons for it that may or may not be interlinked or it could be nothing to do with the most likely cause.

If you over-compensate for the alcoholism and the fight to beat the addiction, you run the risk of overlooking other threats and causes for this behaviour. You also run the risk of adjusting your expectations to the point where you are massively short-changing yourself and your children out of the family life you all want and deserve.

Keep an open mind, but always remember your boundaries and expectations. They are not unreasonable and in any successful partnership, couples have to meet each other half-way and reach compromises. There's an imbalance if all of them are yours.

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 13:24:43

It will be hard to filter. Because he was ok with the party last year it doesn't mean he still is but I'm seeing now why you missed him. I imagine it might be easier to say he had better things to do than articulate that he might be in a place where social conversation is hard when his emotions and feelings and need to reflect on things are all over the place. Not nice for you but he might genuinely be finding it hard to voice this stuff and his AA group will of course be helping him to process it.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 13:29:20

You both make really valid points and I can't say enough how I appreciate your understanding of the situation and really very helpful suggestions smile

FredFredGeorge Wed 21-Aug-13 13:30:57

FrancescaBell No - I don't see any unfairness in that scenario - social functions are not family obligations, they're things you choose to do, so no only the members of the family who choose to do it should have to do it.

If he was taking free time while actual obligations were being done then that would be unfair, but going to parties are not obligations!

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 13:38:45

Other threats and causes?
What might those be Francesca?
Addiction treatment doesn't involve the compromise or expectations you speak of.He is not treating himself to cbild free time. IIf his journey to sobriety isn't prioritised there will be no family unit left. And he is also working hard and accessing support.

TwoStepsBeyond Wed 21-Aug-13 13:38:46

Fred, as a parent, taking your DCs to parties IS an obligation. Yes, we could all decide that as we don't want to spend 2 hours surrounded by squealing kids in a soft play centre we won't take them, but that's not very fair on the child. As a mum I often have to put myself out and do things I don't want to do for my children, your point seems to be that dads don't have to do the same (btw, this was also my ex's POV, hence he is now an ex).

FrancescaBell Wed 21-Aug-13 13:40:39

I think parties that children want to attend (and would feel disadvantaged if they didn't) are family and parental obligations.

As parents, we all go to things our children enjoy but we do not. Parents who refuse to take their children to those events or outings, or who abdicate that responsibility to their co-parent, are chronically selfish in my view.

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 13:48:48

Francesca while I have now understood why the OP could have done with him being there you obviously have little understanding of addiction treatment, and the support needed in the family. The price of failure is far more significant than children's need to go to parties. I acknowledge that the experience is hard for the family but the treatment and his needs at this point need to come first for everyone's sake.

FrancescaBell Wed 21-Aug-13 13:51:44

I've already suggested other threats and causes, but don't want to labour them because it's up to the OP whether she considers them as valid threats.

Put simply, being a recovering alcoholic does not preclude a person from being selfish, entitled, unfaithful or succeptible to other addictions in addition to their problems with alcohol.

People's individual personalities also have an impact on behaviour; they are not one-dimensional characters defined only by their addiction.

This is true of any condition. Personality and character traits will always influence how people behave, whether they have an addiction or illness or not.

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 13:52:41

TwoStepsBeyond I assume though that your ex was not an addict in recovery?

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 13:54:14

As I thought, Francesca you simply don't get it.

FrancescaBell Wed 21-Aug-13 13:55:53

As it happens, I know several addiction counsellors ilovesooty and none of them espouses the somewhat unilateral view that you are expressing on this thread. They tend to look at the situation holistically and how personality and character has an influence on addiction and recovery.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 13:56:38

ilovesooty - where do you draw the line between using AA as an excuse to be even more selfish because it suits you, or between fulfilling the role of a parent (which involves some sacrifice along the way), without compromising your recovery?

Playing devils advocate here: You know how some people with an illness will use it for any excuse to wriggle out of anything that doesn't tickle their fancy, could this ever be the same with someone fighting addiction?

And by the way I am not saying people with an illness do that, just saying some can. If anyone is allowed to say this it's me, as I have multiple sclerosis which is an incurable degenerative disease!

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 13:57:59

ah! FranchesaBell, I see you already answered my post. In fact you seem to have answered it as I was typing the question out!

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 14:01:18

I didn't say that personality and character does not influence recovery. Please don't attribute something to me that I haven't said.

I assume your counsellor acquaintances have only expressed their opinions in general terms due to client confidentiality so you can't say how they would view this situation on the information we have.

CogDat Wed 21-Aug-13 14:02:22

I think yanbu, and I'm very surprised so many people think you are.
Plenty of times we might rather do our own thing, but in a family, everyone should fulfill their obligations, to keep the unit happy overall. Attending events at the in laws, or going to a party where you will be expected to herd the DC for hours, it might not be your favourite choice of a Saturday activity, but you owe it. Give and take.

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 14:05:06

With regard to where the line gets drawn I think it has to be a case by case basis. AA as it progresses will hopefully enable him to be increasingly open with you and he'll make progress in terms of social interaction.

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 14:10:25

By that I mean participating socially and in family life should form part of his goal setting within the framework of a structured recovery plan and you should have input into it.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 14:14:50

Yes I am hoping that he will progress a bit - based on his disclosure that he can be overwhelmed by the newness f actually FEELING emotions and not having them be dumbed down by alcohol anymore.

I think the 12 steps seems to be about examining your own moral behaviour, and I'm hoping he may see that partnership and parenting will need to involve the sacrifice of compromise at times.

It's a waiting game and a case of seeing where it all lands. and of course I don't want to be jumping on his back over unreasonable everyday things, however not do I want to struggle on holding it all together and being the only giver.

FrancescaBell Wed 21-Aug-13 14:21:53

I'm not misquoting you ilove but telling you the impression I'd gained from your posts.

In fact I agree that it's impossible to say how every alcoholic will behave in recovery, precisely because people are individuals with their own set of character and personality traits. Hence it's right that people are treated on a case-by-case basis.

Where I think we disagree is in our advice to the OP in terms of how she should approach it. I profoundly disagree for example that this man's needs should come first every time.

It's up to the OP to weigh up any conflicting advice she gets on this thread and to decide (with her personal knowledge of everyone involved) what are the best next steps.

Perhaps we can focus on that and not who is 'right'?

MonstersDontCry Wed 21-Aug-13 14:24:50

YANBU. My DPis like this too and it pisses me off. If he knows my family are coming round he always goes out. Im always getting asked where he is and I have to make pathetic excuses for him. I'm always doing things I don't want to. For example, tomorrow, we are driving 3 hours with a toddler and a new-born to visit his overbearing aunty. I really don't want to go, but I will as it will look odd if I don't.

Although I do think you are being unreasonable about the AA meeting/your mums birthday. Maybe he likes to see the same people every week for support.

FredFredGeorge Wed 21-Aug-13 14:53:30

If you believe parties are obligations, then they should be split, and not both parents going that's grossly wasteful of time, and completely pointless to put both of you out when it could be only one! You certainly don't need 2 parents to watch your child at a soft play, indeed it would be a lot better if there was only 1.

FrancescaBell Wed 21-Aug-13 14:57:22

Maybe you need to accept that lots of families like spending time together as a whole family unit?

But this has got nothing to do with the party the OP has described, which was an event for adult friends and children. Her husband was the only parent not in attendance, when he had no other clashing arrangement.

atrcts Wed 21-Aug-13 15:12:33

Where does soft play come into it? It wasn't soft play!!!!! That would have been much easier and not obvious that my husband wasn't there, and much less need for other parents to keep bailing my little boy out!

TwoStepsBeyond Wed 21-Aug-13 16:34:13

ILoveSooty no, he wasn't an alcoholic but he did have other issues which he used to get out of anything that didn't appeal, but then conveniently got over them when it was something similar that benefitted him.

I know there are several layers to this situation, I'm just trying to say that whatever the cause of the problem, if the end result is that OP is feeling isolated and wishing her DP was more involved he needs to listen. His needs are important but he's not the only one with needs in the family.

Sorry OP I think I introduced the soft play in response to someone else's post, as an example of when many mums would rather not have to be involved with kids' parties, but you can't always say "I don't want to go, so I'm not going" - you do it anyway because the kids will enjoy it.

With your family party set-up there is even more reason for your DP to have been there I agree.

ilovesooty Wed 21-Aug-13 17:56:34

Fair enough Francesca.

FredFredGeorge Wed 21-Aug-13 18:23:40

TwoStepsBeyond I agree there are occasions when the kids would miss out by not going, but they aren't occasions where both are forced to go - they're times when one of the parents has to go, and they can be swapped off while the other does more productive things.

That wasn't the suggestion for the thread - visiting your parent etc. aren't such occasions.

cafecito Thu 22-Aug-13 00:54:10

I agree with FredFred and sooty

differentnameforthis Thu 22-Aug-13 14:25:21

He's newly sober. He has not long started attending meetings.

Perhaps he needs to learn who he is without the alcohol to prop him up? He may feel that he cannot do this socially with friends/your family.

No matter how familiar he is with friends & your family, perhaps he doesn't feel now is a good time to be working out who he is in front of them (especially at a children's party). Being social at home, he is still in his comfort zone, can retreat if needs to, probably can do this in his parents house too, not so much in his in laws or in public.

Some one touched on him drinking at social occasions without your knowing, which is entirely possible, most (all) alcoholics hide their drink. So perhaps socially, it is just too hard/too triggering for him at the moment.

GladbagsGold Thu 22-Aug-13 14:36:00

I think if he can manage to cope with his family social events, its pretty poor that he doesn't go to other events. I'd be pissed off, taking a new baby and a small child to a BBQ full of families and my DH not there because he said he 'has better ways to spend his time'.

differentnameforthis Thu 22-Aug-13 14:39:31

I think if he can manage to cope with his family social events, its pretty poor that he doesn't go to other events.

I don't. Equate it to being ill. I can happily be with my family when ill, but I don't want to be with dh's.

It's a level of comfort.

Also, op, perhaps he doesn't want to go as doesn't want to be questioned about his sobriety, perhaps he will feel judged, talk about.

We can sit here & guess until the 12th of never, but you will never know unless you talk to him.

differentnameforthis Thu 22-Aug-13 14:41:26

I'd be pissed off, taking a new baby and a small child to a BBQ full of families and my DH not there because he said he 'has better ways to spend his time'.

I've done it. Several times, for various reasons. I can't say that it bothers me to be honest.

Parents have coped with babies & small children for years, parents do it the world over. Sometimes the older one gets left a little while when mum or dad has to deal with nappies etc, but it really isn't the end of the world.

manfalou Thu 22-Aug-13 14:47:41

I would encourage him to the AA meetings... every night of the week if needs be! Making such a massive change in his life with regards to alcohol is bound to make changes elsewhere too.

My Mother died from alcoholism, she never admitted it so maybe give a little slack until he is totally out of it himself... he's doing really well!

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