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My sister and her alcoholic husband (sorry, a bit long)

(5 Posts)
beans37 Sun 09-Feb-14 09:54:29

My sister is married to an alcoholic. They have 2 DCs, DD aged 12 and DS aged 9. DD is at boarding school and they're hoping to send DS away next year.

They are very unhappily married and my BIL drinks a hell of a lot, his hands shake, he smells of booze and he counts down to lunchtime so he can have a drink. I feel terribly, terribly sorry for him. My sister has stress-related issues with her stomach and spends nights being sick. She also over eats for comfort. She has recently been diagnosed with mild epilepsy and has been going through her menopause; she's 45. They are both very unhappy, but have been together since they were 19 and I think they can't see a way out. It is affecting the children's behaviour and we were all pleased when they sent their DD away to school to escape the toxicity of her home life.

He is high functioning and works as a barrister. She is a lawyer too, so they are pretty well off, but he hasn't really been working for some time. They have been unhappy for the last 10 years or more. I certainly remember it when I was about 20, which is 18 years ago!!!!

I have told her she should leave him, as then he will sink or swim, but if she stays with him, he will just keep on slowly sinking. They row all the time, but she keeps insisting he is a good dad. I've said that I'm sure he is, but he will still be a good dad if they're separated. Not convinced he sets the best example, to be honest.

I suppose what I really want to know is if anyone has any wise words I can say to my sister. It's all so sad and mostly falls on deaf ears. I think she is kind of addicted to being the martyr as well. She sees a psychiatrist and goes to Al-Anon meetings. Our lovely Dad died just over a year ago, who we were all very close to and we miss him. But he died so worried about her and it breaks my heart. The psychiatrist has told her she's not in a 'good place' (a hated phrase of mine!) at the moment and shouldn't leave her DH. I don't think there's ever a good time, but I think he's more likely to want to get better if something dramatic happens.

Any advice on how I can help her gladly received. Thank you. Sorry its so long. I've tried to put paragraphs in so it's readable!! We're all just at the end of our tethers and she cries every day. Hurts my heart.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 09-Feb-14 10:39:46

Unfortunately, I don't think there's anything you can say to someone who has spent over 20 years locked in co-dependency that is going to change things. If seeing her children suffering didn't do it, nothing will. FWIW I seriously doubt the psychiatrist actually said she wasn't in 'a good place'. I suspect that's her own words designed to rationalise her decision to stick around and get you off her back.

So I'd throw your support where it's actually going to be appreciated and that's your niece and nephew.

IshouldhavemarriedEwanMcGregor Sun 09-Feb-14 10:43:11

Agree with Cogito - every word.

HoneyandRum Sun 09-Feb-14 10:46:16

Nothing to add to Cognito, focus on the children.

beans37 Sun 09-Feb-14 11:11:00

Thank you. You're right. It is co-dependency, isn't it? V depressing.

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