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Planning to split up with my alcoholic partner but filled with doubt and guilt(209 Posts)
Hello all, I've been with my partner for 12 years now. And it's only just becoming apparent that he's an alcoholic. He's not a falling down type. He works full time. He only drinks in the evenings. But he drinks every night until he's drunk and then goes to sleep. And he smokes about 4-5 joints a day. I feel like I'm being SO unreasonable splitting up with him. I've been wanting to split up since the day he moved in - but it's taken me 12 years to feel strong enough to split up. But we have a 4 and a 7 year old together. The second I think of them and how much this will damage them, I just feel like, no matter how much I want to split up, no matter how miserable I am, this just isn't bad enough to justify ruining their lives. They're both such sensitve girls - the elder one has a terrible temper and gets angry really easily and the younger one can burst into tears when something even slightly goes wrong. But I don't think that's got anything to do with my relationship because from the outside there is NOTHING wrong. It's just me that's miserable. But I keep it all in. I'm not cross with them. I am pretty happy really. My life is great apart from this problem. I take them all over the place doing lots of stuff and we have lots of friends. They don't see him drunk - he doesn't fall down. He might sway abit but that's it. But I've worked my arse off with my own business for the past 18 months only to discover that he's spent £3K on booze in 6 months and was hiding the credit card statements. Basically my business isn't that successful and he's drunk ALL the profit I worked so hard to earn. I also do 99% of all household chores and childcare. I confronted him yesterday, he said he was sorry but that he was planning to stop on Sunday because that's the day before his new job starts, and he got drunk tonight as usual. Even though I'd told him his behaviour had devastated me and he said he was 'sorry'. Isn't that abit..odd?
I was going to counsel give and take until I read this:
But I've worked my arse off with my own business for the past 18 months only to discover that he's spent £3K on booze in 6 months and was hiding the credit card statements.
1) Alcoholic Anonymous (and al-anon for you, as a partner)
2) He starts inputting toward the family from his new job (if he holds it down)
4) LTB -- but I suspect you are not there yet, by a long chalk. But if you did, it would be OK.
Thank you for your reply - what does LTB stand for?
OP, please contact Al Anon. They offer advice and support to people dealing with ex/partners who have alcohol abuse issues.
I think you are right to split with him. And I understand that you are worried about the impact on your DCs, but your partner doesn't have to be falling down drunk for your DDs to realize that he is emotionally absent and a drain on all your lives. Do you really want them growing up thinking that a normal relationship involves one person being stoned or under the influence all the time? And are you willing to sacrifice your own happiness to model this?
He is not serious about change.. So all you can do OP is *make a plan and leave.
Also I think I better add that I went to 12 step meetings for an eating disorder for 10 years. I've listened to hours and hours of AAers and Al-Anons talk about that their problems on podcast and in online meetings. My partner knows all about AA - there's a meeting up the road. I've introduced him to a guy who goes there who will pick him up and drop him off. But he's not interested. I haven't mentioned it more than a couple of times but I don't see why I should have to mention it anymore. It's his responsibility to get there after all. I've given him an easy way in and a contact but he says he doesn't need AA. He's planning to just stop on Sunday. But I know alot about addiction, if you just stop with no treatment then the problem is still there because the problem is YOU! I have found that I've almost got nothing in common with Al-Anoners - I don't 'identify' with their experiences and feeling at all really. I have never got involved with my partners drinking - hence I didn't know he was drinking my profits! I live an independent life. I can't stand neediness. I don't feel I 'need' him in anyway shape or form. BUT I will say that his alcoholism affects me because I feel a huge burden of responsibility for him because he's so childlike in many ways. I worry he won't be able to cope if he's out there on his own, because he's never had to and he doesn't have any friends or family nearby. I know I shouldn't but I can't help feeling that if we split up, I will cause him to turn into a 'destructive falling down' drunk by fucking up his life. I wouldn't honestly give a shit if we didn't have children - I don't want them to see him fall apart. Whereas if I could just hold it together, he could just carry on the way he is. Yes we'd be stony broke, I'd be paying for his booze, and I'm working 8 hours a day with no childcare plus doing everything in the house and with our two children, BUT my children wouldn't be damaged by a break-up and I wouldn't trigger my partner into drinking himself to death. Maybe.
My SIL is
chained married to an alcoholic. She has been married for over 40 years and instead of enjoying her retirement she leads a dog's life looking after a shambling wreck. He has advanced cirrhosis of the liver, brain damage and treats her like dirt. She should have left him years ago, but she made the mistake of staying. Her life is utterly miserable.
Do you want this?
"The second I think of them and how much this will damage them, I just feel like, no matter how much I want to split up, no matter how miserable I am, this just isn't bad enough to justify ruining their lives."
You are probably more likely to ruin their lives by staying. Do a bit of research on the life outcomes of children brought up in families with alcoholic parents.
As a real-life illustration, exMIL stayed with her alcoholic, abusive husband for religious and social reasons. Her children did not grow up well adjusted and grateful to her. They grew up to develop alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, suicidal tendencies, an inability to form positive relationships. The daughters each ended up in a series of abusive relationships themselves. Those in the family who have had therapy resent their mother more than their father.
I have divorced an alcoholic spouse while my child was pre-school. It wasn't a walk in the park but I have no doubt that it was preferable to the alternative of staying together and sending my DD the message that I condoned her father's behaviour. Since her father left my DD sleeps better, eats better, is generally less sensitive and anxious and doing very well at her new school.
^ I worry he won't be able to cope if he's out there on his own, because he's never had to and he doesn't have any friends or family nearby. I know I shouldn't but I can't help feeling that if we split up, I will cause him to turn into a 'destructive falling down' drunk by fucking up his life.^
That shows what a kind person you are.
But seriously, he will go down and take you with him if you let him.
LTB = Leave The Bastard.
You leaving him might be the shock he needs to sort his life out. But if you leave him, that's his responsibility.
Hmmm 'emotionally absent and a drain on all our lives'. That really hit home. In fact it made me cry abit. Which I don't normally do. THAT's what it feels like - rightly or wrongly, even if it's unreasonable to feel this way - it feels like I'm draining away to nothing. I feel totally numb most of the time. I've had to become so tough it's ridiculous. I feel like he's sucking out my 'life force' and soon they'll be nothing left. Except he IS sorry but alcoholism is a disease and he just can't stop. I accept that I'm modelling an appalling example of a 'relationship' - we've slept in separate rooms for five years or so and there's no affection. There's only him groping me which I can't stand. I've asked him to stop but it's like he can't hear me. He just says but I love you so much. Wow this is sounding bad. I feel like he's drinking to punish me for not having sex with him and I feel like I deserve it - what right have I to use his income to pay for the house we live in and then refuse to have sex?!!
No, he isn't sorry in the way that you understand it. I'm rather dubious about the "love" from what you've described too.
What alcoholics say is often meaningless because it's just a way to justify their drinking or ensure they can maintain a lifestyle that allows them to drink.
The fact is that whether it's a disease or a choice, his alcoholism has exactly the same effect on your and your children either way.
In your case, he's also sexually abusive so even if he stops drinking, it isn't going to fix all the problems.
"Sorry" or not, he will will continue to drink, spend your money and treat you like rubbish.
What do you want to happen?
Bunbaker and ChangingWoman thank you for your advice - but I do feel like you're coming from a different perspective that doesn't apply. He isn't a destructive drunk that can't hold down a job and is aggressive and disappears and gets into fights and is embarassing in public etc etc - the children would never know I don't think. He is a quiet anxious drunk. He comes home from work. He goes to the shop. I cook him tea and he eats it, then he sits in front of the telling, drinks till he's fairly drunk and then goes to bed and he does that every night plus he smokes weed alot. Hardly traumatic for a child. But it IS traumatic for me because I do EVERYTHING and I'm carrying him in every way imaginable. And the resentment and anger I feel, is eating me alive and is wearing me out. I'm tired of being angry. Angry that I've cooked him a meal every night for 12 years. Angry that he has EVERY weekend off and NEVER takes the children out of the house. He will play on his PS3 with our elder daughter every three months or so. And he will do a puzzle with our youngest sometimes, but that's it.
It is precisely the feelings of guilt and helplessness that Alanon will help you deal with. My uncle and cousins found them invaluable when dealing with his ex/their mother.
Changing is right. Children who grow up in households where there is substance abuse are rarely grateful for the experience and many go on to have addictions or relationships with addicts because that is what they know.. Would you want your DD's to have your life OP? To work their fingers to the bone to feed another's addiction?
If not, you will have to show them another way.
This man is an emotionally abusive bastard who loves booze more than he loves you and more than he loves his children. He will put booze above you and them every time.
You are doing your girls an enormous amount of damage by staying with him, don't kid yourself you're not. You can't possibly damage them any more by dumping him.
You are not responsible for whether he falls apart or not, in fact he may need to fall apart in order to hit rock bottom. You cannot protect your children from seeing that, only he can. It is better that they see it from afar, than that he's living with them when it happens. You are not responsible for what he does or whether he falls apart.
Have you had counselling yourself? You sound like you feel you haven't got the right to dump him because of his addiction, because you had an eating disorder. You do. You need counselling to try and sort out your feelings around this.
This man is leeching your life's energy away and not functioning as a father to your children. You can all be much happier without him and you have the right to get rid of him.
I got rid of an alcoholic ex and it was like a cloud lifting from my life. Honestly, you won't understand why you put up with it for so long afterwards. You and your girls can be so much happier.
BasilFucker speaks truth.
Stop looking after this person, and start looking after yourself.
Thank you ChangingWoman - I do see what you mean. I've been down the 'sexually abusive' route. I've read alot about it because I had abit of relationship couselling and she suggested I was being abused and I said that wasn't the case. Every now and again I will say to him that I'm not comfortable having a sexual relationship with you because our relationship is in a mess. Then he stops touching me for a couple of days. Then he starts again but each time he says 'is this ok?' and I'll immediately shut down and freeze - I want to say no but I just can't because I know if I do, he'll be hurt and I just can't bear to reject him again and again and so I say 'yes' through gritted teeth and I just stare ahead and dig my nails into the palm of my hand and wait till it's over. I don't understand why he can't see how uncomfortable I am. Sometimes I wonder if he knows I can't say no and he gets off on the power he has. He has recorded himself touching me in the past - unbeknownst to me. He said he was doing it to keep him sane whilst we weren't having sex - so he could still look at my body even though we weren't sleeping together. But when he's asked me to come upstairs with him, I haven't been able to say no and then I just lie there wanting to scream. Twice I've just run out of the house and driven off rather than have to say no. When I've returned and explained that I didn't want to, he's said, you should have just said. But how many times can you reject someone?! Before you completely break them. He 'adores' me and everytime I reject him, I feel physical pain. Sometimes letting him touch me is preferrably to feeling the pain and guilt of rejecting him. Again I feel So responsible. He is so pathetically needy - I feel like his ego is a tiny fragile baby bird in my hand and it's my responsibility not to crush it. He had an appalling upbringing, an abusive one. I just feel like I can't allow him to feel anymore hurt or rejection. And it feels like his entire self-esteem is enmeshed in this relationship and I am its keeper.
Yes it's true that I don't look after myself. After I've looked after the children, my business, the house and him, there is literally nothing left for me
No, sorry, there isn't a special distinction between undamaging (functional) alcoholics and damaging (violent/unable to work) alcoholics. Neither are ideal parent material.
I strongly recommend that you go to the library or browse the internet and do some general reading about:
a. the effects of family alcoholism on child development (esp. emotional development) and life outcomes
b. spouse / partner long term relationships with an alcoholic
Damage doesn't just come from a sudden trauma. Consistently drunk people are incapable of demonstrating the normal human emotional responses and interactions which children need to be exposed to in order to develop.
He has already damaged you. Reread your posts - the way you are living is neither normal nor desirable. You can't do anything to control his drinking or to protect your children while you remain with him.
I wish you the best of luck. It took me years to understand and accept most of this.
Thank you - I do feel like I'm under a spell abit and if only I could get free of him, things would look different somehow.
Wow. I feel like you've just typed my conversations with my besties. I have been with my other half for 14 years. He's a functioning alcoholic and to the outside world, we're a fairly successful "middle class family". Every couple of years I lose the plot and tell him I can't cope and want out, he says sorry and promises to make an effort to cut down/stop. Of course, it NEVER lasts. Nasty little cycle. We have one DD who is our life, we both dote on her but I can't help but worry myself sick about her growing up and realising that Mummy is always a bit sad, or cross with daddy and daddy usually stinks of booze past 6pm.
I think about leaving him, more frequently recently. I have the same concerns as you. Worried that he'll end up worse off. I know I'll be fine.
I wish I had the answers for you but really I can only sympathise and say that I completely understand how you feel. We just have to do what's best for our LO's. Best of luck, you'll make the right decision x
Thank you Whingebag - sometimes I wonder if the only reason he is 'functioning' is because I do the 'functioning' for him?! And that's why I'm so tired all the time.
My dad is an alcoholic. I know he loves the booze more than he ever loved me. And I know that's unfair and I "understand" about addiction BUT I grew up knowing I was never the priority. Never. I took that expectation into every relationship I had until this year. I am 48.
That is just one of the impacts of having an alcoholic/addicted parent. It's crap. Genuinely crap.
Both my brothers were alcoholics, nothing you can do will change his behaviour.
Notice I said were, because they're both dead.
I'm sorry to hear that Belle and I do take it on board. I think by drinking again tonight despite yesterdays conversation, he's put his cards on the table really. Booze is more important to him than my 'devastation'. So he obviously isn't capable of loving me. I guess that's why Al-Anon kind of annoys me, because it sounds like the people often learn to live with the alcoholic and live their own lives - that isn't what I want at all. I want the strength to get him out of my life. I don't want to learn to live with it!
The second I think of them and how much this will damage them, I just feel like, no matter how much I want to split up, no matter how miserable I am, this just isn't bad enough to justify ruining their lives.
Living with an alcoholic parent ruins your life anyway, so you'd probably be improving their lives. Don't think they don't notice anything. You said yourself: They're both such sensitve girls - the elder one has a terrible temper and gets angry really easily and the younger one can burst into tears when something even slightly goes wrong.
That's terrible Frame - poor you and them. My grandad shot himself in the head because he went to AA for years and still couldn't stop drinking. I know where it leads. I guess I've convinced myself because my DP can hold down a job, and isn't passing out or anything, then I shouldn't make such a fuss.
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