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Separating from alcoholic husband: really need support [Edited by MNHQ at OP's request](35 Posts)
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I'm pretty sure I want to separate from my husband. He's an alcoholic, low-grade abusive, inconsistent with the kids. Just miserable to be around.
Our financial position is shaky, compounded by the fact that I have a long-term illness. I can work, but currently full-time is beyond me.
What I'd really like is to hear from people who've been through this. Do's and don'ts.
I don't really have anyone to confide in irl, except my mum who is too angry with him to think clearly; and who, anyway, stayed with my alcoholic father until he died.
My heart is breaking a bit, as I watch my daughter turn into me. All twittery and trying to fix everything, not really understanding what's wrong, but knowing that something is.
My feelings have been compounded by a recent holiday, when I stayed sober to get a clearer view on him. He was so drunk every night, he was incoherent.
Then hungover every day, saying things like "I don't understand why I feel so tired".
Which is what I am. So tired.
I know all this is really boring, but I'd be so grateful for some advice.
The crucial thing is to get all your affairs in order without him getting suspicious, then you can get a clearer picture of your assets, your income (work and benefits) and his income (likely child maintenance). There's several websites that can then calculate likely benefits if you split. Think about if there's somewhere else you can move to if things get ugly. Consider storing important documents like birth certificates, passports and marriage certificate at your mums.
The next thing is then to talk before you make a decision, if he could sort out his drink dependency would you want to stay with him? Counselling and mediation could help you either work a way to stay together or have a manageable split.
There's specific support from alcohol dependency orgs which may have additional advice. The key thing is to keep you and your daughter safe, talk when he's sober etc. Hugs it's hard, going through separation myself (alcohol not an issue) and conflicting emotions is a big problem
Thanks so much stucknoue. It's bizarre how comforting a reply can be in cyberspace!
I'm so sorry you're going through this too.
Good advice about the documents. I think I'll spend next week pottering around and finding them all.
I don't know if I'd stay with him, even if he stopped drinking. He's a very fucked-up person. Always the victim, which means I'm always the baddie. He's exhausting.
We had marriage-counselling a decade ago. I thought it had saved our marriage, but a couple of years later he commented that it had been "a waste of time", which felt like a punch in the gut. I'm not sure I'd trust him through that process again.
I had a look at houses worth half ours: jumping ahead, to see how I'd cope.
It's all so heartbreaking. We've put so much into this house.
Thank you x
He's being nice at the moment, probably because I've already started to separate from him in my head, so I'm not expecting things from him any more.
I've started this thread partly so I can keep a record as things happen.
I've also got the GP to refer me for psychotherapy, as we're very co-dependent (only just found out what that means!), and I really have no idea what reasonable boundaries look like. When is an action just being sensitive to someone's feelings, & when is it enabling them? Not a clue.
I've woken up this morning feeling much lighter of heart.
Last night, DH got drunk (of course), and I stayed sober and made dinner, served it up, enjoyed mine, tidied and cleaned the kitchen and got the kids to bed.
The difference there is that before I would have felt resentment that I was doing everything, asked him to help, and he would have said "I'll do it in the morning" with an eye-roll at how unreasonable I was being, then slept in until 11:00 (standard).
Now, I'm behaving as though I am the only adult in the house. So freeing!
I've been thinking about some of his past behaviour, and want to stick it on this thread for re-reading later.
About this time last year, we'd had a row about some thing or other - can't remember what.
We were due to go to my mum's for lunch, and he refused to come. I said that the kids and I were still going to go, and he started crying, and screaming "don't take my kids away from me". The kids were utterly traumatised, and so worried about their Dad while we were at my mum's. Their distress was so obvious that I had to tell my Mum & SIL what had happened.
I mean, that's blatant emotional abuse, isn't it?
Going to keep logging as things come back to me. If I write it on my phone or anywhere else there's a slight risk that he'll see. I'm not in danger, but this is not for his eyes.
I've swung the other way now.
At some point he's going to ask me what's wrong. He won't be sober when he asks this, and I don't want to talk to him about it when he's been drinking. I watched my mum try this too many times when I was a child.
How do I respond?
I'm no good at asking for help. It's been drummed into me since childhood. No-one in this house has the emotional capacity to help you, so if you ask you'll be treated as an emotional vampire.
I need help though. I can't get to an Al-Anon meeting this week. I don't know what to do.
We're just moving this over to alcohol support for the OP.
Thanks LilyMumsnet . That was very quick!
Op, sending you huge hugs. You’re doing so well and have a lot of insight into your feelings and your dc’s behaviour.
If your h asks anything, just tell him you’ll talk to him in the morning. Don’t get drawn in. he won’t be rational and he won’t remember your conversation.
Help. Everyone needs help so please try not to feel bad about it. Though how hard it is how change our childhood conditioning!
Do you have a friend to talk to? Or post on here. Or ring the Samaritans.
I suggest you do the Freedom Programme.
But keep posting on here.
Thank you Thegreatcrestednewt
I do have some good friends, but I was diagnosed with my nasty illness last year, and I've had an awful lot of support from them already. I feel like I should be putting into the pot, not taking more out.
I think I'll keep posting on here for now. MN has been an important source of support for me for well over a decade now. I still find it surreal that you can post your experience, and find people who understand. I don't find that irl.
I've heard the freedom programme mentioned on here before. I'll look into it.
I suppose, like lots of other educated women who pride themselves on their independence and coping skills, I find it excruciating to admit that I've been duped. The sense of shame is overwhelming. It's arrogance, really.
I don't think he's necessarily consciously duped me: he's from an abusive background himself, and this is how he thinks relationships are. Grim.
Off downstairs for family time now. I've managed to avoid him all day.
Just heard him come in from the shops with some bottles, so he'll have got stuck in by now.
Just had a look at the freedom programme. Question: is it only for women who have experienced physical violence? My husband is a passive-aggressive sulker.
I did this - separated from my husband. Sold the house and downsized. You need to ensure that he doesn’t end up looking after your children on his own at any point. Please do not assume (as I used to) that he will not sink low enough to endanger them. Alcoholics have no barriers and no boundaries. There is a reason that many at AA describe their drunk selves as ‘morally bankrupt’.
You are doing the right thing by taking your children out of this situation. Join groups on social media such as NACOA as well as Al-Anon and you will see how growing up with an alcoholic is harmful. Leaving your DH is a gift that you can give to your DC. It’s sad, but it’s better than staying. Far better.
Oh and you’ll begin to regain your own sanity too.
Thank you so much HopeClearwater. I'm very sorry you've been through this. Are you settled now? Are you happy? How are your children?
I've just been sitting thinking about losing our house, and letting hope creep in that he could change.
I've started the Freedom Programme online, and joined Al-Anon and NACOA on Facebook.
One thing that struck me quite forcibly: the freedom programme says that all the reasons abusive men come out with to excuse their behaviour are just that: excuses. It's all about power and control.
Al-Anon, on the other hand, take the line that alcoholism is a disease and they have no control over it.
Don't these two POV cancel each other out if the abusive man is an alcoholic? Feeling very confused.
Just been having a look at some of the other threads on here, and some of the responses.
DH has been talking about borrowing more on the mortgage to pay off debt (accrued during my illness & when he lost his job), and so I feel my hand is being forced.
I didn't want to talk to him about separation until I had my head around the financial side, but now I feel that I need to tell him that I'm going to leave him if he doesn't stop drinking.
I feel like this would be playing fair.
Any advice? Is this a terrible idea? I'm in a bit of an emotional no-mans land, and I feel the urge to push out of it.
I think you really need to just bite the bullet. If you don't it will always be tomorrow.
My mum left my alcoholic dad when I was a child and I am so thankful she did. The only thing I would change is that she would have done it sooner.
No matter how much preparing you do you will never feel prepared for such a life changing decision.
Please talk to him sooner rather than later. Life is so short and you are making the best decision. You may question it when you first do it but in the long term you will look back and know it's the best thing you ever did.
Good luck x
He's out atm, so I'm going into his office to see if I can find any hidden bottles. If I do, that will definitely give me a push.
I think I might talk to him when he gets back, as long as I can tell that he hasn't been drinking already.
I keep thinking that this can't be happening, and that I'm over-reacting.
It's natural to question yourself BUT this is serious. It isn't something you can just pretend isn't happening. Even though denial can seem like the easier option sometimes.
You are doing the right thing. Address this asap but when he is sober. You can do this. You will do this. You may as well set yourself free now.
You will look back and regret more all of the time you have put up with this behaviour than you will leaving. Don't waste anymore of your life or leave your daughter in this situation for any longer than you absolutely need to x
Al-Anon, on the other hand, take the line that alcoholism is a disease and they have no control over it
That’s a misreading of what Al-Anon say, @LongTimeComing74
They say that the alcoholic needs to recognise that they have no control over alcohol, and that YOU need to realise you have no control over the alcoholic.
They aren’t saying that the alcoholic can’t help drinking and what happens as a result of drinking. Most alcoholics would absolutely love to be able to control their drinking, but the AA position is that they can’t, so it’s better to abstain completely.
so I'm going into his office to see if I can find any hidden bottles
This behaviour will send you round the twist. Don’t go down this road. You already know he’s got a problem. You’re trying to control the situation by finding and removing bottles. It’s pointless. If he wants to drink, he will.
Sorry - just saw your questions. We are settled and financially ok thank you. My DH died of his alcoholism though.
Thanks for the messages & advice.
I spoke to him after the kids had gone to bed. I feel very bad about this, as a) he'd been drinking & b) I knew he wouldn't keep his voice down. I checked on ds afterwards (dd was asleep) and he'd heard us arguing, but not what we were saying. I told him not to worry & that it was just 'grown-up stuff', but feel shit.
I'll post what was said later, but suffice to say, it did not go well.
So sorry to hear what happened to your dh* HopeClearwater*
I'm really glad you have spoken about it. The hardest thing is though is what if nothing changes.
The trouble is many couples do talk but the problems remain unresolved. I really hope you find the strength to leave.
It isn't ideal arguing with children in the house but what is worse is leaving the living situation to carry on like this. Please don't be too hard on yourself.
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