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should you ever drink with a problem drinker?

(39 Posts)
siucra Thu 16-May-13 21:37:12

My DH is a problem drinker. He stays up until three in the morning at least twice a week drinking and loves alcohol. It has caused HUGE problems for me - the hardest I have ever faced - and am now (finally!) learning how to detach. We have a gorgeous five year old DD.
I rarely drink with him these days. I don't enjoy it. He's not a fun person to be around when he drinks. He has an energy around alcohol that doesn't, shall we say, make me relaxed or comfortable. I am learning to stay clear when he's drinking.
Tomorrow we go on holiday to France for two weeks. He's all excited and went out for a couple of drinks yesterday and wanted to drink with me in the evening. I said no. He sulked. This evening, he persuaded me to buy a bottle of wine when I was coming home. I relented but said that I wouldn't open it until after 8pm. When I got home at 6pm, he was stinking of booze and our DD was eating pasta in front of the TV. I was furious. I can't speak to him or argue any more because it turns into such a horrible gloves-off row. I can't deal with it anymore.
He is drinking the wine on his own and I am now in bed.
So, my question is: do I have ANY wine with him in France? Much as I enjoy a glass or two, I would be happy to forgo it totally if it is not a good idea.
Any help you could give me would be much appreciated

badinage Sat 18-May-13 11:16:02

I don't have experience of this with a partner, but I completely agree with Cog that this 'detachment with love' thing sounds disastrous especially when there's a child involved.

I read a post in the last few days from a poster who I think's called TerryPratchett and what she said was so wise. She said that when someone's putting up with repetitive bad behaviour in a relationship, whether it's abuse, addiction or anything else, the lightbulb goes on when you work out what you're getting from your role as an enabler in the relationship.

This made such bloody good sense to me, because it goes back to the old maxim that you can't control anyone's behaviour apart from your own. And I think once a person unlocks what it is about a dysfunctional relationship that's propping her up in some way - and then challenges herself that she doesn't need it any longer - it can be easier to leave.

So it's about working out what your role in the relationship gives you and why you're addicted to that e.g. rescuer, mother figure, being 'needed', always having the moral high ground, being seen as the sensible, capable one. If you're attached to that role and it props up your own esteem in some way, work out why that is and whether you really need to play that role any longer, especially when the consequences of it are disastrous to a child who has no choice in the matter.

Lucylloyd13 Sat 18-May-13 10:45:18

The OP confuses a few issues.

Firstly, the situation you describe is that of a problem drinker/alcoholic. That is his problem. The solution is in his hands. The implied neglect of your child would worry me. So how your marriage survives this challenge is a stand -alone problem.

Drinking with problem drinkers is tricky. If someone whom I cared for had a problem, and asked me not to drink in front of them, and to keep them away from drinking situations, I would help.

The ideal is for the problem drinker to moderate or abstain around responsible drinking, from what you say, that is unlikely.

I would lay down the guidelines. I would say that I intended to enjoy a few glasses of wine responsibly, but did not want that enjoyment to be sullied by a paralytic oaf drinking himself into oblivion. And if he did just that you would leave the table, sleep solo, and you would then decide the next day who goes home. His choice.

Isetan Fri 17-May-13 12:36:40

Your husband is cheating on you and whether you join them and make it a threesome doesn't matter because its not about you, its all about her.

Of course he was drunk in charge of your child, his mistress was in the room and she trumps your daughter too.

Detachment can only get you so far, your marriage is dysfunctional, you're being cheated on night after night in your own home and his defence of that bitch will eat away at you.

Whether he leaves her ass or shacks up with her under a bridge, it isn't your call. However, exposing your daughter to your dysfunctional marriage and it possibly being the template for her future relationships, is.

Your husband is an alcoholic, his priorities are very clear, what's yours?

MillyStar Fri 17-May-13 11:39:07

Your child can't detach thats who i feel sorry for

QuintessentialOHara Fri 17-May-13 11:01:29

Are you also going to teach your child to stay away from dad, maybe cover in her room?

chickens Fri 17-May-13 10:59:46

My husband was a drinker.
He'd been difficult to live with for a year, when he lost his job, but I didn't realise he was drinking.
My kids were 2 & 4 so I was busy with them & couldn't cope with him smashing plates, passing out, & denting the car every week, so I chucked him out when I discovered he'd been drink driving with the kids & at the park.
He died a few months later aged 40 so now my kids don't have a daddy.
I go through so many emotions, anger, guilt & sadness every day. Being a widow in my 30's isn't what I planned.
I ask myself every day if I did the right thing. Yes, I had to chuck him out to protect the kids, he was a liability to have in the house.
But, I have to live with the fact that he drank considerably more because I kicked him out & that probably killed him.
I am not over it & never will be, I still miss the lovely man I married. Out of 16 years together, I only knew he was a drunk for the last 6 months.
It was a huge shock to me & all of the doctors that he died, please take this as a warning. DH will be somewhere kicking himself for his own stupidly & missing out on seeing his kids grow up.sad

mrswimpeydimple Fri 17-May-13 10:09:06

Your situation OP sounds very familiar and you need to heed the red flags. I too was in a relationship with an alcoholic. He naturally denied he had a problem. But like your DH he would stay up until 3am regularly drinking, starting in the early afternoon. He also had a foul temper and would even threaten to kill my dog. How does your DH drinking affect his job, surely being up until 3am a couple of times a week doesn't mean he is up at 7am to go off to work? My ex was in the RAF and he had a lot of down time at home between shifts and overseas tours which facilitates the drinking.

This is not a lifestyle you need your DD to see and eventually repeat herself. I kicked he ex out when my DS was 10 weeks old. He had spent the full 2 weeks paternity leave drinking until 2-3am and was absolutely no help and very critical of how I was doing anything. After talking with my HV I realised I had to get rid because I didn't want my DS growing up with him as a role model. Better an absent father than a bad one. I have never ever regretted it, the best thing I have ever done. He can no longer drag me down into the gutter. Please, really rethink where you want yours and your DD life to go. It is possible to live better and it is not the end of the world to go it alone.

Snorbs Fri 17-May-13 10:04:40

Things have to change.

I agree. It's horribly trite but it's true - if nothing changes, then nothing changes.

Maybe use this holiday as a chance to think about what you can change to improve life for you and your daughter. You can't change how your DH chooses to behave. You can't force him to change his drinking habits. You have neither the legal nor moral right to insist he lives his life the way you think he should.

You can change yourself and your own situation. You can leave the room when he's drunk and obnoxious. You are not obliged to just sit there. Go off and do something that's more fun. You can change your plans. And you can change your mind about whether your marriage is good enough for you.

SolidGoldBrass Fri 17-May-13 09:57:35

You can choose to end the marriage. It doesn't sound like you're getting much out of it. Leaving him or throwing him out may make him stop drinking, but it may not. If you separate, you will be able to control or refuse contact with DC if he turns up drunk; no court will insist that a small child is left in the sole care of someone who is intoxicated.

JollyGolightly Fri 17-May-13 09:50:57

Good luck. You can come home early if you need to. None of this is compulsory.

siucra Fri 17-May-13 09:49:45

I have read all the posts now. Feel very scared. Not sure what to do. Detachment does sound like it won't work.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 17-May-13 09:40:58

You are, albeit in different ways, just as mired in his alcoholism as he is.

Where's your tipping point here, what would it take for you to actually walk from your drunkard of a husband?.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-May-13 09:31:19

He's got a serious problem but, until you provide some hard consequences to him not changing behaviour.... and detachment really isn't doing that, it's only hurting you and not him .... then he has no incentive to do anything any differently.

siucra Fri 17-May-13 09:26:37

Thanks everybody. Last night he drunk the wine and a bottle of (real) champagne that friends had given me for my 40th in October and numerous beers.
Off to France to day. After a disturbed nights sleep.
Things have to change.

calmingtea Fri 17-May-13 09:20:37

I agree Cogito. Living with an alcoholic does literally suck the life out of you. The people I have met in RL that tried the detachment thing, made me realise it was 100% not for me. They were all in long term counselling because of the stress of doing this (even after years), and looked like shadows of their selves, ghosts. The ones it worked 'best' for did not have children. I just can't get that image out of my head of these grey looking people, such emotionally complicated lives. It scared the living daylights out of me.

Snorbs Fri 17-May-13 09:18:34

I largely stopped drinking at all when I was with my alcoholic ex. It didn't make the slightest difference to how much she drank but I found it a bit easier to deal with her drunken aggression when I was sober.

When I went to Al-Anon I met some people who have successfully managed to "detach with love". But they were older people with grown-up DCs and non-aggressive alcoholics. I never managed to achieve it before my relationship fell apart anyway.

One of the things that such detachment hinges on is to not be reliant on the alcoholic for pretty much anything. That way it doesn't matter if they're drunk or sober - you just carry on doing what you were going to do anyway and if they're too pissed to join in then that's their loss.

Quite how such detachment could work when you have a small child is harder for me to envisage. I think you'd have to effectively exclude the alcoholic from any solo child care at all. That's the safest option for your child after all.

One final thing. If your DH is picking up your DD from nursery or school while stinking of booze it may well have been noticed. If he is noticeably drunk then the school/nursery may feel obliged to alert Social Services. Which may mean at some point you sitting down with a Social Worker trying to explain to them why you willingly left your child with someone you knew has an alcohol problem.

I've been in that position. "Uncomfortable" doesn't even begin to describe it. My DCs ended up on the At-Risk register for nine months due to my ex's alcohol problems.

One of the things our Social Worker said to me to help me see the wood for the trees was this: "If you had booked a baby sitter, gone out and come back to find the baby sitter drunk in charge of your kids, would you use that baby sitter again?"

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-May-13 08:52:44

'Detachment with love' hmm may work for some but all I'm taking from the OP's description is that he blithely carries on drinking with no intention of changing and she has the life sucked out of her as she desperately tries to ignore it & carry on as normal. Something is very wrong with this picture and I think the OP has been badly advised

JollyGolightly Fri 17-May-13 08:49:33

My mum is an alcoholic. She stopped drinking when my ds1 was a baby, her own decision, reached after many failed attempts to control her drinking. I had "detached" ( didn't know about al-anon at the time), by making it clear that I would not be leaving the baby in her care, ever, and nor would I be visiting her or attending events when she was likely to be drinking. This meant that I was not going to be drinking with her, by default. At the time that was the extent of what I could control in the situation, I stated my case, then left it alone.

Your situation is more complicated, it's harder to withdraw when you live with the drinker and it's not overstating the case to say that your daughter is at risk. Your.H is an alcoholic but he doesn't think he is, and it won't improve by itself. I wouldn't go on holiday with him if I was feeling as you are, and I'd be prioritising the safety of the child which means he can't be alone with her if he can't be trusted not to drink, which he can't. And if you're not comfortable with sharing a holiday with him, how can it be ok to go on sharing a home?

GeordieCherry Fri 17-May-13 08:46:25

Detachment with love can & does work. I say that from experience. Keep going back to Al-Anon, maybe get in more than one meeting before France

I echo that whatever you do re: your drinking some wine on holiday it will make no odds about his drinking

Good luck, living with a problem drinker is shit thanks

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Fri 17-May-13 08:37:05

But it's not a long-term plan though, is it?

They can't co-parent a child until the child leaves home, with one parent an active alcoholic, and the other living a parallel life.

That's just too awful for words, for the child.

calmingtea Fri 17-May-13 08:28:35

Al anon speak, it is 'detaching with love' the idea is that you stop trying to control and get involved in what they do emotionally, but you do this by putting up strong boundaries too. It is easy to become very enmeshed with an alcoholic and suddenly everything becomes about them, and detaching is learning to live with them without damaging yourself.

It is not for everyone. But I have met people it has worked for. But it definitely didn't take all their stress away, just some of the madness of the situation.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Fri 17-May-13 08:24:58

How on earth do you 'detach', and live with someone and co-parent with them?

How does that even work?

tribpot Fri 17-May-13 08:12:47

Please don't think that whether you drink wine in France or not has any bearing on his behaviour. The 3cs are critical here; you seem to think that you can help things by not drinking. You can't. But I would seriously question the wisdom of going on holiday with an alcoholic to wine country.

ilovewoody Fri 17-May-13 08:10:41

Op, my father is an alcoholic and growing up with someone like that has had a huge impact on my life.
I married an alcoholic too and feel that was not a coincidence.
I love my mother dearly but still struggle with the fact that she has stayed with my father all these years despite the terrible things he has done to us all.
Please consider the long term impact of his behaviour on you all. What happens now can have very long reaching effects on the rest of your life while he does whatever he likes without a moments thought for his family. Unless he gives up drinking your life will not gt any better, only worse.
Good luck x

calmingtea Fri 17-May-13 07:48:28

I was told, by a lovely alcoholic friend of mine, the following - if social services get a sniff that he is drinking as you describe while in charge of a 5 year old, they may either forcibly remove him or your child. For me (and I left a drinker) the fact he cannot be sober around his young child is more of a priority. Do not let your attempts at detachment, prevent you focusing on your child's well being. Good luck. And go back to Al Anon, learn boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. From what you describe in your scene in the OP, he has got away scott free with his behaviour and your child and you are suffering. Personally, I would go on my holiday with my child and leave the drunk behind, but I am not in your situation.

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