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DH's alcohol and palliative FIL

(13 Posts)
artisanroast Sat 19-Dec-15 21:25:03


I am feeling a little helpless. I may have posted in the wrong place...

My FIL is in the last stage of his journey with prostate cancer. He is now unable to take any food but has some sips of water. We are looking at hours and a few days at the most.

My husband had a very boozy Christmas night out last night night (I said he shouldn't drink much and come back early which he agreed was a good idea). He came back quite pissed at 3am. I was up as we have a 3 month old daughter so I was breastfeeding her. I find it difficult to sleep when he is on a night out though so I counted I maybe had 4 hours sleep total last night. My daughter sleeps really well so it was just me awake waiting on him coming home.

I was at the supermarket this morning at 8am with my daughter when I received a call from SIL to say how ill FIL was, so plan A was to get husband coffee and an OJ and breakfast so he was together enough to be able to phone his sister. We live in Scotland and DH's family live in NI. We had to arrange his flight today. He was very reluctant to take the next flight and it transpires it was due to him not wanting his family to smell drink on his breath.

DD and I took him to the airport at 6pm in dreadful weather. I had to drive as we worked out DH had more than 20 units last night and probably wasn't safe to drive.

Now he is in NI and they are taking it in turn every 2 hours to sit with his Dad.

I have a two main issues:

1) I feel I should be there to support DH at a very difficult time however, I know it is not appropriate as DD wakes through the night and FIL needs peace. The rest of the family also don't need me arriving with all the stuff a young baby needs. I feel awful that I cannot be at DH's side if he wants me there. It was a mutual decision I should stay behind until the 22nd. We are booked on the boat then.

2) how to tackle DH's alcohol intake. Xmas night out isn't a one-off. We have had 3 similar incidents since my daughter has been born and she is my priority. He usually drinks approx 40-60 units per week. He says it's his way of coping with his Dad's illness but when will it stop? This drinking style has been ongoing for 4-5 years with some short breaks. I think it is a dysfunctional way of coping. Could it get worse after his Dad passes?

I have a baby daughter and a husband who says he is coping with his Dad's illness but I am not sure if he is.

I have suggested attending the local Maggie's centre but he says he doesn't need it.

I don't want to be the cruel wife who has a go at him about his alcohol intake whilst his father is dying (or immediately after his death) but equally it cannot continue. I don't want my daughter to grow up with an alcoholic father.

His alcohol intake resulted in violence twice so I left him and refused to return until he had seen a counsellor, which he did. This was 3 years ago now. He has not been physically violent since. These incidents involved alcohol. I am clear with him that I have the strength and support to not put up with any bullshit in that regard. I also told his parents about the violent incident and his family were very supportive towards me.

Am I making too much of his current alcohol intake? Should I just allow it to all play out and tackle things in a few weeks after his father has passed? DH is aware he drinks too much and is planning a dry January. I am breast feeding so it makes no difference to me whether we drink or not. I did drink half a bottle of wine once to twice per week and I gave my daughter expressed breast milk on those occasions. It is now less as it upsets me when I cannot feed my daughter as I am waiting for the alcohol to clear from my system. I give myself 2 hours per unit to be sure it is all gone.

His uncle is an alcoholic and I do think people can inherit an 'addict gene' and be more predisposed to alcohol/drug dependency.

I am not innocent in any of this as prior to becoming pregnant I drank heavily too (20-30ish units per week) Finding out I was pregnant at 4 weeks was like a switch in my head and I stopped drinking for the health of my daughter. I had hoped my husband would have done the same. Me being t-total for 9 months should have been the perfect support to reduce the amount he drank. My daughter is perfect to me and I want the best for her.

I should emphasise he is a good father. He works from home and helps with dishes, washing, feeding, changing, shopping etc without me needing to ask.

Overall we have a good marriage and I love him very much. I want to be the best wife I can be to make our family a safe and happy place to bring up our daughter.

Thanks for reading. I am a bit worried and confused tonight.


FATEdestiny Sat 19-Dec-15 22:29:59

Your two issues:

1) Don't beat yourself up about this. Everyone seems to agree and understand that you need to stay at home with baby. I would do the same in your situation. I assume your DH has his family there to support him.

2) The alcohol intake is a bigger issue. Two main points in answering it

- You can express disappointment in his drinking but you will have no control over his choice to drink or not. Such is the nature of an alcoholic. You are setting yourself up to fail if you think you can convince/talk him into cutting down his drinking. You can't. Nothing, NOTHING, you do or say will stop him drinking. He will have to want to do it.

- Because you have no control over him drinking, the urgency in your need to 'solve' this needs addressing to set some more realistic expectations. You wont solve it, only he will do that. So you have to decide if you want to live with the alcoholic husband you have, or leave him.

Creating a big deal about it just as (or immediately after) his father dies is probably not a good idea. Sure say you are worried about him and his drinking. But set yourself some realistic expectations and understand that what you say is unlikely to affect his drinking.

Ista Sun 20-Dec-15 00:17:18

Just let it be for now and wait and see if he goes ahead with his dry January. His Dad being so very ill is such an emotional big deal that maybe he does need it at the moment to get through. I get how you feel but you are not him at the moment and he is trying to handle the potential imminent death of his Dad as best he can.

TeaFathers Sun 20-Dec-15 00:22:52

i wouldn't say anything until well after the PIL has passed on.

summerainbow Sun 20-Dec-15 13:28:32

Look you dh has had 2 life changing events that happen in pass 6 months . The birth of his baby and his dad illness . He won't be normal . You cant give your full support as you have a baby and you have care it.
The best you can do for the next is look after your self . Don't stay up waiting for him to come in . Get your sleep. Look after you baby . And if you going to back to work get the childcare sorted so you can do it all. Start saving for escape fund as well.
Do what you can for dh but if going to drink he will drink .
You won't be able to address this as he will grieving for his dad.
If drinking get to bad for you leave.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 20-Dec-15 18:53:05

What do you get out of this relationship now?. What needs of yours is he meeting here?.

You can only help your own self ultimately and this is not going to get any better. Its going to keep going from one crisis to yet another one.

The 3cs re alcoholism:-
You did not cause this
You cannot control this
You cannot cure this

He will not address his drinking problem simply because he does not want to. He does not feel he has a problem really and is in denial. Nothing you do or say will make him see otherwise. Trying to help him will get you nowhere and drive you half mad in the process. His primary relationship is with alcohol (not with you or your child) and his next thought centres on where the next drink is going to come from. He has likely been drinking to excess for far longer than 5 years as well; this problem likely predates him meeting you. He will use any excuse to drink; he can and will use his dad dying as an excuse. He will find any excuse or reason to keep on drinking; now he is using his dad's illness to do so.

He did not want to board the plane because his family of origin would know that he had been drinking again; its any excuse to drink for such people and they will lie and lie to themselves as well as everyone else around them. You did not have to get him coffee and OJ to make him together enough to call his sister; that behaviour was enabling on your part and did not help him at all nor you for that matter. All that really did was to give you a false sense of control. You must never ever protect him from the consequences of his behaviour.

He will not stick to a dry January (are you planning on policing that too) and he will blame you somehow for failing. You will not forget that either, you will provoke him. You are acting out the usual roles associated with the spouse of an alcoholic; those of enabler and provoker.

You need to get off the merry go around that is alcoholism now. You can only look after yourself and your DD here going forward.

Do you make excuses for him?. Do you feel responsible for your H and his drinking?. You may well be acting out co-dependent patterns of behaviours and these are in themselves also unhealthy. Infact I think you are co-depedent. Your own recovery from this will only start when you are away from him permanently. Alcoholism is truly a family disease and it does not just affect the alcoholic.

I would urge you to seek support from Al-anon as they are specifically for anyone affected by a loved one's drinking problem.

He may be as you describe a "good father" but women often write that when they can think of nothing positive themselves to write about their man. You've left him before and twice because of violence towards you - you still call him a good father to his child?. He is not a good father to her nor a sober husband to you. He does what is expected of him, your standards are themselves pretty much baseline. Is he a "good" husband to you?. What do you feel about him now?.

You may well love him but love itself is not enough in these situations. Alcohol as well is a cruel mistress.

artisanroast Mon 21-Dec-15 22:42:07


Thanks for all your comments and advice.

DH's father passed yesterday morning. Strangely I woke up a few minutes before he died (despite him being in NI and me being in Scotland). My daughter had woken and become grumpy. I swear we both knew - but that's another story.

I am pleased that DH was there for his Dad and his family in the final moments.

I was pleased that when he came home last night he had not been drinking and despite there being 3 bottles of wine in the fridge he didn't open any of them.

Tonight we shared a bottle of champagne, then I am not proud to say, we went on to have a bottle of Prosecco between us. This was over about 6 hours but I feel ashamed of myself. My daughter has been given expressed breast milk. Counting my units the earliest I can feed her is 1am but I may wait until 3-4am just to be sure I am clear. Today I was a facilitator to our joint alcohol excess.

I am not planning to drink any alcohol over Christmas as I am breastfeeding and designated driver.

DH and I had a long and frank chat (over our fizz) and agree we must both make health changes to have a long and healthy life for our daughter. I feel far more positive than I did on Friday when I made my original post as I feel we are both on the same page moving forward.

Thanks again for all your comments and advice


FATEdestiny Mon 21-Dec-15 23:03:22

That you feel personally ashamed of your own drinking speaks volumes. Especially given your own concerns voiced just a couple of days ago.

No one here can know how truthful you are being about your own drinking habits. We cannot know if you are minimising your own drink problem and placing the problem at your husbands feet.

We take what you say at face value and will assume it to be true, that the problem is your husbands. But those of us with experience of dealing with an alcoholic will recognise that lying, underplaying and minimising are part of the alcoholic narrative.

Are you a facilitator or are you an alcoholic?

Is your husband the facilitator to his alcoholic wife?

artisanroast Mon 21-Dec-15 23:31:43


I think it's quite valid to ask if I have a problem myself and could I be in denial.

I considered not mentioning tonight's Prosecco but I did because I can't have truthful advice or assistance if I lie...

I didn't drink for 9 months whilst I was pregnant, and now with my daughter it is once or twice per week and is usually only 3 units. I am very aware how many units I have because I have to count them to work out when I can next breastfeed my baby. I use 2 hours to 1 unit to be sure it has cleared from my system. Based on this system more than 3 units is more hassle than it's worth. Tonight is the exception, not the rule, of late as we tearfully remembered my FIL and spoke about what we wanted for our future.

I don't have any alcohol when my husband is out or when he is away for the night. I also didn't drink when I was establishing breastfeeding or when I was concerned about my milk supply. To boost my milk supply I was pumping up to 4-6 times daily.

DH likes to feed DD a bottle at 6 and 9 but this has stopped over the past 2 weeks as I prefer to feed my daughter myself.

Overall I think in the past alcohol was a habit but since I had my daughter it has been firmly placed in the past.

As an extra note though, I think we need new/different friends as within our circle of friends high alcohol consumption is considered normal. It's not helpful when trying to stop drinking that all social events involve drink. I am moving more towards coffee dates where possible. I have also been avoiding people - eek!

artisanroast Mon 21-Dec-15 23:45:52

Oh we also have a case of 6 bottles of wine my Dad gave us (me) I hid these from DH as they are of a nice wine which should be savoured and enjoyed together.

I haven't touched them and DH doesn't know we have them. They arrived 3 weeks ago.

FATEdestiny Tue 22-Dec-15 00:13:57

Absolutely no reason for you to justify your drinking habits to me. As well as it being none of my business, like anyone used to dealing with an alcoholic (my brother is the alcoholic in my case), I will always ignore any talk of alcohol intake because it is never truthful. Bear this in mind with regards to what your husband tells you about his drinking.

The three C's Attila explained. Your drinking is your own battle and in no way can any other person make a difference to the battle against alcoholism. Just as your husbands drinking is his own battle. You didn't cause, cant control and will not cure his drink problem. Only your husband can fight his drinking problem and he will do so alone. Likewise any drinking issues you have.

This is not something you will do together. You could both deal with your alcohol demons simultaneously, if you are both in the right place in your lives to do so. But these will be personal decisions and personal battles, not joint.

Attila, who clearly also has experience of dealing with alcoholism, said something else above: "He will use any excuse to drink; he can and will use his dad dying as an excuse.". I then see you telling me that tonight's drinking was as you tearfully remembered FiL. An excuse to drink. Just an excuse. You have added the word "tearfully" in there to make it emotive, but it is just creating an excuse to drink.

Frank discussions, any discussions, that happen while drinking are of no use. These discussions have to happen when sober.

FATEdestiny Tue 22-Dec-15 00:33:16

As an aside, please never co-sleep with your baby. You shouldn't share a bed when you cannot be sure of your husbands drinking or let her sleep on you (in a chair, for example) when drinking alcohol is an issue.

In terms of a point of reference for what is 'normal' drinking - I would not consider having an alcoholic drink as a result of my parent (or in-law) dying. I would probably want a cup tea and maybe a bubble bath to help me relax. I would definitely want a good, long talk with my husband to reminisce and remember. This would not require alcohol.

We have 4 children. Our youngest is 15 months and our eldest is 11 years old. I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for a long time over the last decade. Parenting is far too tiring to be able to cope with hangovers. If I do have a drink, it is usually only 1 unit, occasionally 2 on special occasions. I can go vast chunks of time (several months for example) without drinking at all and will not even notice or pay any attention to this. I rarely give any thought to drinking.

How you will cope with parenting your daughter tomorrow after drinking 2 half bottles of fizz is quite beyond me. Just 2 units would make me feel too groggy to adequately parent my children the following day. That's just parenting, not to mention breastfeeding and the demands that brings.

artisanroast Tue 22-Dec-15 06:00:47

Please don't worry, alcohol or not, I never do-sleep.

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