Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Awake and scared - husband been drinking(28 Posts)
I am an idiot. I knew DH had a drink problem when I married him and big surprise, it hasn't got any better.
Last night he said he wanted to go to the pub to watch the football, he promised he wouldn't get drunk. At the end of the game I rang him and he said he would be home after one more pint. An hour later I went to bed. I was woken at about 1.30 when he came home, he was shouting that I am a cunt (repeatedly). I kept very quiet hoping DDs (one aged 3, one 3 months) wouldn't wake. He went into the spare room where he has been sleeping since birth of DD2, she is in with me. There was another episode of shouting at about quarter to 3 when he went to the toilet.
I haven't slept, I needed to go to the toilet but waited three quarters of an hour terrified I would wake him. I fed DD2 the moment she stirred in case that woke him. I avoid him when he's drunk and aggressive as I don't know what he will do. I will need to be up looking after both DCs in 3 hours.
I have considered getting away in the morning, packing a bag and taking DDs. The only sensible place to go would be my sister and I am not sure I can do a five hour drive safely on no sleep. I could go to a good friend locally but couldn't stay with her as she only has a one bed flat. Also I haven't discussed DH's drinking with anyone and I feel ashamed.
I have also thought about an ultimatum, it's me and the kids or the drink. But have been obsessively reading relationship threads here for hours and one poster said you can't change someone they have to do it, and want it.
God what a mess. I just don't know what to do, with my marriage and also in the short term in a couple of hours time. I don't want to give up on him or us, want to suggest counselling etc. but he has to want to ditch the drink. I know he is ambivalent about it, he does know it's an issue but hasn't stopped so far - he has had relationships end before because of it, lost his job getting a conviction for drink driving. He says he loves me and would be lost without me so maybe threatening to end it would give him a wake up call. But can I ever feel confident about us if I have basically blackmailed him to change?
The idea of ending is also awful, it would mean giving up on everything we have wanted for our future and on the loving family I wanted for my DDs. I am sobbing thinking about it but it can't go on as it is, they will be damaged by having a father who is a drinker and DD1 will know before she's much older.
Just wanted to write that down to see if I can sort my head out. I don't know how I've got into this, I am an intelligent woman with a responsible job (on maternity leave now), how did I get into such a mess?
Oh well he's out for the count now and not likely to wake until late morning unless I wake him. Think I will see if I can get any sleep at all and then ring my friend mid morning and see if I can go to her flat with DDs. I sort of hope waking and finding us gone might make DH think. I also need some support. Thank you for listening.
He has stopped drinking for now. Hopefully it will last.
But be careful, as there will be some who will still try to derail your realtionship.
Some of my earliest memories:
My Mum sleeping in my bed and my Dad coming in to get her. Pissed.
My Mum telling me not to sit on the armchair in the kitchen because its cover was wet. Because she'd had to sponge it after my Dad was sick on it. Pissed.
My Mum telling me my Dad had wet the bed. Pissed.
I have a good enough relationship with him now. Both happily married to other people and pensioners. I can never look at him without thinking what a useless dick of a man he was when he was younger though.
My memories up there are the ones your kids will have. Unless you leave.
Sorry you are going through this
From personal experience, I'd highly recommend Al-Anon for some support for you while you get your head round deciding your future.
Take care & good luck
The only acceptable level of abuse within a relationship is NONE. Yes NONE.
Practicality's words are perhaps very harsh to you but they are accurate nevertheless.
Reread you original post. Your opening comment is that you are 'awake and scared'. You then go onto say you are frightened of waking him up because he is aggressive. You say you know what he will do if woken.......
Interestingly he promised he wouldn't get drunk and then came home.....drunk.
So his word means jackshit, right?
So what do you get out of this relationship now, what emotional needs of yours are being met here?. Some need of yours is being met.
And what do you think of your mother now?.
Re your H, I think that boat sailed a long time ago to be honest with you. He has had more than enough time to change and he has and still holds drink above everything and everyone else.
His primary relationship has been and is still with drink. Neither a drink driving conviction, you walking out with the children (and then returning with them for your own reasons) nor relationship losses has been enough to stop the alcoholism. What has really changed now?. I can tell you now, nothing.
Neither of you have changed behaviours and both of you have made no moves to effect any long term change; he's still an alcoholic and you are still up in co-dependency mode to his alcoholism. You are as caught up in his alcoholism as he is.
Your H is not his stepdad. Look carefully at actions rather than words, words are so very cheap and alcoholics are often mired in denial. You also grew up with alcoholism in your midst; your children are on some level experiencing what you saw and did as a child. A difference now is that you are now playing the role your mother did when you were small.
You can give a person the opportunity to change but remove yourself and your children from the situation until they demonstrate they have managed it and have taken the appropriate steps.
It is frightening for a child to be around verbal abuse and damaging. You don't know if or when it will escalate. You have the opportunity to keep yourself and everyone else safe but now is the time. Stop minimising what has already gone on. You are scared in your own home.
That is not normal.
Thank you Attila I will get hold of that book, it sounds just what I need.
I don't know at the moment whether the ultimatum has worked or not and believe me I share your cynicism about his commitment to change. But the reason I mentioned his stepdad is that he did successfully give up, and DH has this example in his life too. I think the difference now is that I am clear that if he hits the bottle again, in fact if he has any alcohol at all, I will finish our relationship. I think he knows this but most important is that I know it, and will follow through. I am not going to be my mum, and I'm not going to let me daughters experience what I did in childhood.
It may sound impossibly weak that I've given him this last chance to change. I believe he really wants to, though whether he succeeds is to be seen. I do want to give him this last opportunity though. For what it's worth there hasn't been any question of physical abuse, just the verbal nastiness. I'm not saying that this is any more acceptable but want to be clear about this as some posters assumed a level of physical risk which isn't there.
I have experienced growing up in a household like this.
No child should ever have to.
There were various promises over the years about change and countless apologies. It makes no difference if you are still living it.
You have caved too readily. He hasn't demonstrated that he has actually managed to give up drinking yet and yet you have taken your children back into that environment with the attendant risks. Risks you know only too well.
I think you have let your children down and yourself. Sometimes being part of an abusive household can mean that people normalise and tolerate unacceptable behaviours. Despite your claims otherwise I think you fall into that category.
When my son was 6months old and my daughter was 18months I upped and left when my XH came home wasted and abusive. I never returned. It was the first and last time they were ever going to be around that behaviour. I made sure. So can you.
....but also, forgive yourself, for thinking mistakenly that change for the better could happen - because with youth and inexperience it is understandable why many of us get it wrong about all sorts of bad behaviour that can't be ironed out.
Would an ultimatum work? You have already said that he has lost relationships because of it so seems it won't have any effect.
I'd guess that you've fallen into the trap of thinking one day he will man up and stop -firstly by finding love with you (nope), then by becoming a father (nope), maybe another child (nope) or perhaps there is some way you can still get through to him (doubtful).
Hmm... I thought that way for a while. Six years on from split, exp still a drinking alcoholic - having a child (losing us), finding someone else (losing them), rehab (worked for a month). I don't hope any more, it's not my problem (except no financial contribution, lucky I've always worked full-time which is more than I can say for him in the last 7-8 years).
I'm not bitter though, life goes on and you have to accept some responsibility for sticking with it in the hope of change.
These days I realise men are a finished article WYSIWYG, expect any flaws to continue in life so if you don't like them at the start, don't go there.
What do you get out of this relationship now?.
And what do you think of your own mother seeing as you saw your Dad drinking for presumably many years as well?. Did you hope that she would leave?. That is how your children likely feel now.
His primary relationship is with drink and has been for many years. He has lost relationships because of it as well as a job due to having a drink driving conviction. What this man has done is drag you down with him.
You have a choice re this man now; your children do not.
I was not at all surprised to read that your Dad was an alcoholic; you married someone just like him. We learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents; look at what they taught you - and what you are teaching your children about relationships now. Please do not repeat your parents mistakes with your own children.
I would read Codependent No More written by Melodie Beattie as there are often elements of co-dependency in such dysfunctional relationships.
He has done and said all the usual things and you as his enabler have enabled him long enough. You are also playing a role in his alcoholism here and you're as caught up in this as he is; you've been propping him up to date. You cannot help someone who ultimately does not want to be helped; words are cheap after all and they can tell spouses what they so badly want to hear.
The 3cs re alcoholism;-
you did not cause this
you cannot control this
you cannot cure this
As I stated before they can and do tell you what you want to hear. You're likely being fed such lines now. Diabetes won't ultimately stop him reaching for the bottle; what may well happen now is that he'll start being more clever and further hide the extent of his drinking from you. Its all very well telling others that he has stopped drinking but he will likely fail without any outside support and you are too close to the situation to be of any use to him whatsoever. Am I surprised too that his stepdad drank to excess - not a bit of it. You and he made a good fit for each other till now.
Sorry for the long delay but I wanted to come back and say thank you for the advice and support, I really needed it at that time.
I didn't LTB, but I did go to my friend's so we weren't there when he woke up, I wanted to give him a wake up call. I then set a boundary as calmingtea suggested - I told him exactly what had happened and how I felt. He asked if I wanted him to give up drinking and I said I wasn't going to decide, he needed to take the decision, but that if he chose drink we would separate as I am not prepared to have my daughters grow up seeing that behaviour. I really meant it and he could see that.
He has decided to stop drinking altogether, he was diagnosed with diabetes recently so knows it is killing him. He has actually started telling people that he isn't drinking any more, which does make me think he may stick to it. I am not counting any chickens, he may lapse but I am holding onto my determination that if he does, I end our marriage. For what it's worth his stepfather who brought him up was a violent drunk, and stopped drinking totally when DH's DM filmed him and showed it to him. Nearly 20 years later he's still dry. DH was horrified when I made the comparison with his stepdad as he was scarred by his upbringing.
Thank you again for your support.
OP isn't going to die of being called a cunt, exaggeration doesn't help. However the children have a right to better than this, if you won't leave for your own sake you are obligated as a mother to leave for children's sake.
Op 2 women a week die of dv in the UK, dont be included in that stats. Get out now, its not up to you to help or fix him but you can help and protect your children from it.
Leave today and count yourself luck. You can do this, you are strong enough and you have support here, at womens aid and other proffessions that are there to help you.
But you need to make the first step.
Get away now. Leave him. This was me 30 years ago and
sadly I didn't have the strength to leave. He is still the same although not getting drunk as often as he used to. Wish I had left when DC were little.
soon it wont just be you he is abusive with. It will be your daughters. Trust me.
That is if you stay of course.
Neck some caffine and pack a bag and leave. Go anywhere- even the 5hr drive and stop at services and sleep halfway. Please. You are scared for your own safety and your children's. Don't stay somewhere you don't feel safe. Don't tell him anything.
And he will chose the alcohol over you for a guess- he will say anything to keep you with him, but he wont change anything. Just a guess. x
You can call Women's Aid for advice. You need to find a way to end the relationship for the sake of your dc.
The verbal abuse will most probably escalate to physical abuse in time.
Can you get to your sister's on public transport?
My father was also an alcoholic who was verbally and physically abusive to my mother and eventually to my older brother as well. The repercussions of his behaviour are still going now and he died 14 years ago.
I don't think you've been overreacting to DH's drinking previously. I think you know how this dependency can screw everyone up, not just the person with the drink problem.
You don't need to be lying in bed worrying about what's going to happen if you wake him up. You and the DC's deserve so much more than this and deep down you know it.
Oh I feel for you, you aren't the first intelligent woman to get herself into this situation and you won't be the last.
I have considered getting away in the morning, packing a bag and taking DDs yes you should absolutely do this. Go in the afternoon if you feel you need rest, but get space and safety. You sat there terrified of your alcoholic waking up, what you were describing was horrific being utterly scared in case your baby woke up your drunk. That is more, imo, that you having 'just' an alcoholic living with you and you being affecting by the insanity of it, it sounds like something inside you believing that he could actually harm you.
I have also thought about an ultimatum, it's me and the kids or the drink you have it wrong. That is not an ultimatum or blackmail. What you need to set is a boundary and be fully prepared that he will actually choose alcohol and his lifestyle above you and the children (as you even say he has done before). However, by not giving him this boundary, you are giving him carte blanche to destroy your life. And it will. Not to mention the effect on your children. Think, 7 x higher change of your children becoming alcoholics themselves being raised in this environment, not to mention learning codependency and being likely to pair up with a drunk in their adult lives.
The idea of ending is also awful, it would mean giving up on everything we have wanted for our future and on the loving family I wanted for my DDs this does not exist except in your dreams and what you want. Your H is not part of this at the moment. I know that is hard to accept but your H has shattered this through his behaviour.
I would not engage in couples counselling until he is clean, it won't get you anywhere. His only passion is alcohol. Even if you talk him into going to rehab, the % chance of it working is very low. Therapy for him will not work until he is clean.
I feel for you, I really do. I have personal experience of what you are going through and reading your words put chills down my back. What I want to say is leave him, leave him to work out what he wants, maybe he will choose to sober up. More likely you will be so relieved to be out of that situation. It is hell living with an alcoholic.
I know he is ambivalent about it, he does know it's an issue but hasn't stopped so far - he has had relationships end before because of it, lost his job getting a conviction for drink driving. He isn't going to stop unless he wants to, which he currently doesn't. I worked in addictions and rehab for a long time. People do not stop long-term for someone else. They might stop for a while, that's easy. To stop forever, they have to want it for themselves.
The really important thing is safety. Your safety in the short-term, your DD's safety in the longer term. He was shouting 'cunt' in a house with children. You know this is not behaviour you can tolerate.
Find a way to leave him.
My dad was an alcoholic and I have sometimes questioned whether I over react to DH's drinking because of memories it triggers.
These will be the memories of your child
You are not "over-reacting" you are 'experienced'. You need to leave. He will not get help whilst you are 'enabling' him and don't even consider a reunion until he is a long time sober.
you sound amazing, especially as you are looking out for your dcs. Some people use them as an excuse for staying but you already know what that is like.
get to your friend's, rest up and go to your sister's.
ignore his pathetic apologies, he is a repeat offender.
Hi and thank you both. Sleeping didn't happen as I am now bf'ing DD2!
You are right that if I don't do something nothing will change. I feel ashamed to admit to other people and probably myself how bad it has got. When he is sober he is lovely and a great partner and dad. But he regularly drinks to excess, though it doesn't always include the abusive behaviour.
My dad was an alcoholic and I have sometimes questioned whether I over react to DH's drinking because of memories it triggers. But I do know that the way he has been tonight is abusive and I can't tolerate it. I also can't be my mum, covering up in public and let my DDs be the scared children upstairs listening.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.