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Do all couples have doubts sometimes? And how do you find a way forward?(62 Posts)
I'm very private about my marriage so don't want to talk to anyone in real life but I feel like I need some outside views on this.
Our marriage is great, we have a lovely home and beautiful children. The problem is that every now and then my husband goes out and binge drinks and ends up in a terrible state.
Here's what happened the last time: He headed off on a night out at the weekend about 7.30 in the evening. He texted me a couple of times during the evening as he knows I get worried about his drinking, last contact was 11pm. He knew I was going to a gym class the next morning and he'd need to look after the kids so I could leave by 8.40ish. Except he doesn't come home.
I barely sleep all night (dreading him coming home in a state at any minute) and then from 6.30am I'm fielding the kids' questions about where their dad is. Awkward. I don't know the people he's out with to be able to get in touch, but I have the brainwave to check the tablet that he uses so that I can get their email addresses to try to trace him as I do feel some obligation as wife and mother of his children that I have to check he is alive and uninjured. I open up the tablet to find that the group has shared a photo on their email of my husband fully clothed including jacket and shoes, kneeling on the floor with his head on a sofa, face down and passed out, taken at about 7am that morning. One of the group is married to a TA at the kids' school so I have the added humiliation that, as well as him staying out all night and everything that neighbours/friends might assume if they saw him stumbling home the next morning, we may or may not be the subject of staff room gossip. (Thank goodness my kids are oblivious to that.)
I resign myself to the fact I'll be missing the gym class and go and get showered and dressed. He turns up about 9am. He asks me if I'm heading out, I say it's too late. I don't get into conversation with him, I'm too pissed off. He asks me again at 9.20am if I'm going to the class. I realise that he's still very drunk. I get the kids dressed and get out of the house, leaving him in the spare bed.
The kids have a great day, I keep them busy the whole time. He texts at 2pm saying sorry and where are you; I ignore it. He calls at 4pm but leaves no message so I ignore it, but by this point I'm worn out from a day of entertaining young children on no sleep so we head home.
I leave the kids downstairs with him and go to my bedroom for the peace and headspace I've been desperate for. He comes in and gives a half arsed apology in approx 30 seconds. Later in the evening, I don't want to be around him but I know I have to challenge him and ask questions about what he did, so we go through the motions... he has no memory of anything from about midnight onwards. He cannot even remember waking up in his friend's house or talking to me that morning when he was meant to be looking after the kids.
He can't understand that this is making me question staying together - he can't believe I would think about throwing away our marriage over one night, but I say to him it's not just one night, he keeps doing this (getting too drunk and losing hours of time). I've made him sleep in the spare room for the time being. I can't bear to have him sleeping next to me but I don't want him to be absent from the family.
He says he will do something like arranging more counselling but he doesn't really know what to do He's had two lots of counselling for this before, first time at my insistence and only to appease me it transpires. Second time was because he had a big wake up call last summer which resulted in an injury during his "missing hours" that he can't remember. (He had loads of drinking injuries before we even met so that was nothing new but seemed to be the tipping point that saw him seek help.)
I think he just says all that to appease me; in reality I think he'd prefer that we just made up and moved on from it whenever it happens. Unlike me, he enjoys being drunk and can't/won't stop himself. I love wine but hate getting beyond tipsy. He thinks I should lay off him because he never mentions anything when I get drunk (he was not able to tell me of any time that I had stayed out all night, injured myself, wet the bed, forgotten how to find my way home, etc - it doesn't happen - so I don't know why he's trying to excuse his behaviour just because I'm not tee total). He always tries to make me look like the unreasonable one, and nobody else's wife kicks up such a fuss...
These binge drinking episodes used to have a catastrophic effect on me (long history of depression and anxiety, and this would cause me a massive setback). The impact is not as great on me now - my husband thinks that's a good thing, I worry that it's a sign I don't care about our marriage as much as I used to.
I don't want to end our marriage. We're great together the rest of the time and I want him to be here and be parenting along with me.
Does every couple have their version of this, their "thing" that keeps raising its head occasionally and causing problems?
Is there an acceptable level of this kind of crap that everyone puts up with?
Where do I go from here?
(Sorry for such a very long post.)
That is disgusting that he thinks it's ok to stay out all night, I mean does he think he's Jack the Lad, he's a family and he is massively disrespecting you OP, what an embarrassment.
I'm afraid going by what you write he just expects you to suck it up and god knows what he could be doing when in a state like that, it's frightening.
Sorry but a total deal breaker in any relationship.
Thanks for reading and replying jeaux.
It's only occasional - couple of months ago he drank too much and got on completely the wrong train (different railway company and everything) and headed the wrong way out of London but I wasn't so bothered by that, it was just a stupid thing that affected him and no-one else.
Last time before that was last August, his big wake up call that resulted in counselling - he's never gone so long between binges before so I thought we'd turned a corner. At worst it was weekly but that's (hopefully) well in the past.
Thanks adora that's kind of my feeling too, he doesn't accept that it's a humiliation for me and the kids too.
I know no marriage is perfect, but I wonder how much other people put up with and where this fits in relative to other couples. I know there are loads worse off than me and I think were great most of the time - but then part of me wonders if I'm being a complete mug for putting up with it.
In the early years of our marriage, my husband (who had been single for 9 years before we got together) still went out on the lash occasionally, one time he got so pissed that he locked me, my DSS and 3 month old baby out (not deliberately, just locked the front door, left the keys in the lock and then passed out) so we had to stay overnight with his ex wife. That was a massive wake up call for him and he was so ashamed that he promised to stop. He only went out after that with us all as a family but what really stopped him drinking was learning to drive, as he wanted to be able to drive the car more than he wanted to drink.
I'm sorry your husband is still not seeing how his actions are affecting you. Does he have a dependency problem?
I think, ultimately, in the long term this'll end your marriage. It's not so much the act of getting totally rat-faced (although that's bad) it's the lack of respect. He's behaving like a teenager on the lash not a man with a family. I couldn't live like that, it'd be the end for me. Sadly though, it often takes women years & years of living with this before they decide they've had enough.
I'm so sorry you are going through this.
I think there are two issues here. The first is the binge drinking/dependent relationship on alcohol. The second is one of fairness in your relationship.
To start with the second: it is NOT fair for you to have to rearrange your life and your day around his unreliability. It's all extra work for you, and it's not equal or just that you should have to pay the price for his irresponsiblity. You deserve time out too, and work around the house should be shared.
The binge drinking: I think this is a kind of dependency on alcohol. It's not the same as alcoholism - it doesn't have the regularity - but it's a kind of use of alcohol to forget or obliterate things that isn't mentally or physically healthy. Since he's injuring himself, and jeopardizing his marriage, the behaviour is clearly out of control and he's obviously not able to rein it in, or he'd have done so already.
And in answer to your titular question: no, all couples are not like this. Most people who love and care about another person stop a behaviour when it is clear that it's having a devastating impact on their spouse. The fact that he's not doing so tells you everything you need to know. I'm so sorry, but you deserve better.
Yes everyone has problems.
Yes often they're the same ones, over and over again.
As for your husband, he sounds like when he is drinking he is going into full on escape mode.
Like he wants to abdicate all responsibility for his own life:
being a good Dad, being a good husband, being a good person to himself as well.
Binge-drinking is really common but I kind of thing it's something that we grow out of as we progress to having kids and HAVING to take responsibility.
It's like he's chosen for that evening to revert back to his 20s when he had nothing to worry about and could get as shit-faced as he liked.
But the thing is he's not 20 anymore. He does have responsibilities.
I'd be very very annoyed too.
Could he not channel his energy into something more sustaining and fulfilling. I'm sure you'd much rather know he's having flying lessons or something like that on the weekend (and you're doing all the childcare) rather than him getting his kicks out of getting completely smashed.
Long-term it's not that healthy either. Bad for the liver. And pscyhologically it makes you feel washed up and depressed for days after a big binge like that.
And there's the potential for acute self-harm during each episode. Imagine he breaks a leg. Then you'll have an invalid to look after.
Or he smashes his face in. He's deliberately checking out of his own life. It's pretty childish. Growing up means taking full responsibility for ALL YOUR ACTIONS.
I'd say it's got to stop. Maybe allow him one big piss up a year, away with mates - so you know he'll be away.
Re this comment:-
(He had loads of drinking injuries before we even met so that was nothing new but seemed to be the tipping point that saw him seek help.)
That was a huge red flag; he is more likely than not to be alcohol dependent. What's your definition of an alcoholic?. They do not have to drink everyday and your DH may well function now but longer term, who knows.
Counselling at your insistence was never going to work.
The truth is that unless your DH wants to tackle exactly why he binge drinks there is nothing you can do to help him, any familial coercion from you is doomed to failure. The will to help him has to come from him and he alone.
Unfortunately your marriage is not as great or as happy as you have thought. His binge drinking is colouring all aspects of your marriage and he has not shown any signs of taking responsibility for his actions. Infact you have seemed to have taken on all the responsibility here for him.
I bet you dread any social occasion he has or any evening out because of how he could behave around alcohol.
I would read up on codependency within relationships and see how much of that resonates with your own self. Also codependency issues do heavily feature in relationships where one person has a problem with alcohol.
Re your comment:-
"Does every couple have their version of this, their "thing" that keeps raising its head occasionally and causing problems?"
No. Your comments are certainly indicative however of someone whose marriage is in real trouble because of alcohol dependency or other substance related issues. His primary relationship is not with you. I also think that contacting Al-anon now could help you further.
Do not let your children grow up thinking his behaviour and your reactions to it are at all normal because they are not.
So the last time was a couple of months ago, and the time before was about a year ago. Is that right? And there's zero concern that he's cheating.
Because if he's getting plastered roughly once a year, or six months, and the rest of the time he's lovely then I would let it go. It's definitely not worth splitting up over. We all have failings, and if that's your DH's only significant one, there are umpteen happy couples who tolerate a hell of a lot worse.
Some people's expectations are so high that few mere mortals can achieve them. It would be a very bleak world if only the saintly were worthy of love.
Thanks for the responses everyone.
I'm reading and thinking...
Prawn that's what I sometimes feel - there are couples I know who struggle with their "thing" week in week out, so am I being OTT about something that happens every few months nowadays?
I confirm there's zero chance there's any cheating involved even though he's been out all night sometimes - the states he gets into, he's really not capable of anything at all and will just pass out wherever he sits.
However I do kick myself that I keep putting up with it when he knows it devastates me. I think it shows that he cares more about drink than us, he disagrees and says it means no such thing.
I used to binge drink when I wasn't very happy with my life and I also had 'friends' who encouraged it and participated
The biggest change for me was getting new friends.
The ones who care about you and don't want to do this stuff. I grew out of it and those friends and now drinking is a lovely addition to a meal or a day out not the entire purpose. And we go out and don't drink.
Fundamentally more has to change for him. His socialising and social circle needs to be changed before he will make any progress. But this would happen if he was actually attending AA and taking it seriously... and he isn't. I think you need to tell him quite how damaging this has become and how it's ruining your marriage.
I think couples do have their thing but that would be an annoying habit or a bug bear. Not a potientially fatal, hideously dangerous of control experience every few months. It's too extreme to be 'a thing' at his stage of life
The chance of a fatal accident when drunk to this extreme is ridiculously high. Every time he goes out the risk of him making you a widow is very high isn't it? It's not like when you go to work and have a clear head over your surroundings, if you have no control and no memory you have no idea what danger you are putting yourself in.
Someone was killed near me on a station platform for being drunk and too near the edge. Also someone killed by a car in the road walking home in the pitch dark and too drunk to hear the car. Someone drowned in the river for falling in drunk and too drunk to get themselves out.
I don't know any woman who would put up with her husband not coming home until the next day and sorry OP, but if he is that much out his face anything could happen.
This isn't just a 'thing' like forgetting to put the bins out. He's taking massive risks, as well as messing up your day, leaving you feeling humiliated
I know I couldn't live with it
I'm a long term sober alcoholic and I don't think that someone who gets hammered once every six months qualifies for AA. As for your stream of dramatic posts, Myusername, do you not think you're catastrophizing somewhat? All a bit OTT.
If I were you, OP, I'd wait until he's totally over his hangover and bollock him severely tomorrow. Then move on. Make a note of the date, then check when it happens again. Then if the binges start getting closer together, you'll know.
re your comment from your initial post
"(He had loads of drinking injuries before we even met so that was nothing new but seemed to be the tipping point that saw him seek help)".
That should have been a huge red flag to you so what happened?.
You are also his provoker; you do not forget and cannot forget either. He pays lip service to this and just wants to forget. Your situation is not much different from any other marriage in which alcohol has featured way too heavily in a relationship. Its affecting you and in turn your children who see your reactions to their dad. You cannot fully protect them from the realities of his drinking.
Will you now consider talking to Al-anon?. I suggest that as it could help you no end. If you want to help him you have to help your own self first.
Alcoholism is truly a family disease and one that does not just affect the alcoholic.
I don't think Myuser is OTT, the amount of stories I have heard from folk who have been pissed and got themselves into all kinds of danger, not just physical, if a person drinks from 7.30pm until the early hours of the next morning, you really have to ask yourself wtf is wrong with me, he doesn't even seem bothered, he's more bothered that you moan at him afterwards.
He probably has an alcohol disorder. It's very common for alcohol-disordered people not to drink for ages and then go on a huge bender. This is actually more dangerous than for liver than it is if they drink more regularly but smaller amounts. It also risk injury.
It's way beyond the binge-drinking that most people were doing when they were younger, which was drinking a lot, going home at 2am and having a hangover the next day. He's injuring himself, he's passed out, he's not able or willing to text or let you know he's safe til 9am?
He doesn't need any old type of counsellor he needs an alcohol specialist advisory service and advice on how to cope with his type of alcohol problem.
Your issue is do you stick around til he cracks it, I just don't know the answer for you but it doesn't seem like anything is making him stop, not injury, not distress to you, not social humiliation. Drink does appear to be more important than these things and his family life, even if he only engages in the bingeing pattern.
A lot stood out to me in OPs initial post particularly the comment she put in brackets. I have detailed that in my earlier post. That alone is very concerning is it not?. This is also a long term problem with him that started too before they got together.
I have to look at OP in all this as well; what needs of hers are being met here in this marriage?.
Yes it was dramatic I totally get that. It's worst case scenario and I apologise if that comes over as catastophizing. But it's also a scary reality of binge drinking until you pass out. It would be on my mind that it's just as risky as taking a crap ton of drugs once every 3 months.
It's risky behaviour and it's making OP scared and unhappy.
Also, I knew the three people I mentioned. They were all male
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