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Deep down I know it's right but it's so hard(19 Posts)
My DH and I have had issues rumbling on for years: he suffers from anxiety/depression, takes medication but also drinks, in my opinion a lot, to keep on top of his condition. He's high functioning so to everyone else he's holding down a job, got a lovely family (we have 2 gorgeous DD, ages 7 & 4), we've just moved to a lovely area, done up our house. On paper it's all we ever wanted. In reality it's far from perfect and falling apart.
It's got to the point where he drinks every evening and weekends are heavily influenced by when he can schedule in a trip to the pub. I only ever see him when he's drinking or ill (depressed or hungover). Everything revolves around when he can next have a drink. Take a trip to London last week with the kids - me and the kids were watching some street performers - he was bored so went to the pub until we were finished. Later at the train station he insisted we wait for a later train so he could have a drink. Similarly on Sunday we took the kids to town, he went to get his haircut and popped in to the pub for a couple before coming back to meet up with us. It wasn't even midday. I then had to go and visit my mother in hospital (he and the kids didn't want to come - that's fine, we'd all been to see her recently), but he wanted to take the kids to the pub till I was finished. I put my foot down and told him to take them to the playground - my MIL was with us so she backed me up and they went but when I called to meet them a couple of hours later, they were in the pub. It was the last straw and I was visibly annoyed (was trying to keep a handle on it for sake of kids & MIL).
Last week he drank 5 bottles of wine (over 3 days) half a bottle of gin (in one sitting) and I'm not even sure how many pints of beer - he went to the pub on 3 separate occasions (T, Th & F) My MIL was staying with us and was shocked by his alcohol consumption. We had a chat and I was honest with her that I was very concerned too. She had a word with him but I overheard one of the chats and unfortunately I was heavily implicated in what she said, (xxx says you drink too much - NOT massively helpful). There are countless other occasions where his drinking is excessive and his behaviour is consequently compromised - he got so pissed on holiday, when he had 2 hours to himself, that he was 'ill' for the last 3 days. I frequently go to social occasions alone with the kids as he's 'not feeling like it'. Our sex life is non existent, I can't remember the last time we had sex. Affection is minimal, we love each other but intimacy has long left the relationship. I feel so lonely and it's the girls that get me through.
His Dad was the same, I'll never forget when his parents came to stay about 12 years ago and he went out on his own on a Saturday night to a pub nearby (not even our local) to spend the evening with strangers rather than with us. I was too young and naive to realise that my DH was raised believing this was normal behaviour.
He's tried counselling, we've had marriage counselling (both 6 yrs ago), as a result he gave up alcohol for a year. He made all sorts of promises but they all went out the window. It's heartbreaking as he's such a funny, intelligent guy when he's sober and well. He knows what he's doing to himself but just can't conquer his demons. It's got to the point where we are very short with each other, all the time. I've stopped turning a blind eye and stand up to his behaviour. Unfortunately that means the kids are picking up on it and it's becoming untenable.
On Sunday it all came to a head - his mums chat and me being annoyed that he took the kids to the pub again - sparked a row. I say a row, he just told me to f&@k off and called me a lunatic and hasn't spoken to me since. He's moved in to the spare room and is going to his Dublin office for the rest of the week and again next week (that's not unusual). It will be good to have space rather than walk on egg shells around each other and is easy to explain to the kids.
So we haven't had a conversation to agree what happens next, although it's pretty inevitable that the only solution is to split up. We've been here so many times and I can't go on, knowing deep down that it won't ever change. I'm gutted for the kids - they deserve more but they love their dad.
The implications of splitting up are terrifiying. We've got some big loans from doing up the house, I'm freelancing but my contract is coming to an end in Sept and not being renewed so will be out of work and long story short but we agreed that I would find a more local job (vs commuting to London and 12 hr days). We'd have to sell the house which given the blood, sweat and tears we've had over doing it up in the last 2 years is devastating.
All I can think about is the kids, turning their world upside down and making them leave the home we have made for them
It sucks, tell me it will get easier, in time?
Focus on looking for work and start saving. You need to think about the future and how much better you will feel without this weight around your neck. Someone who has been here before will be along shortly, but remember you deserve better than this.
Your dh grew up living with an alcoholic parent which has had a terrible impact on him. Do not do this to your own dc.
Please consider getting some support from here op.
Just totted up how much he has spent at pubs, off licence and supermarket on alcohol in the last 10 days - £300!!!! I'm not making excuses, but for context, that does include £40 for beers from the supermarket which 4 of us enjoyed, c. £20 for food at a pub, but the rest is beer/alcohol that he has consumed.
Yikes, and he wonders where all our money goes?! I've done this sort of cost analysis before and shown him what proportion of our family income is spent at the pub. A combination of him being a high income earner/financially clueless means he just shrugs it off and says a pint here and there is justified. I really don't want to see a future where he spends all our money in the pub and me and the kids scrape around to afford bills, food, the everyday essentials!
My mother has been in a similar situation for about 25 years with regards to my father drinking. Me and my sister are 23 and 25 now. Don't get me wrong he has always financially supported us but has drank on a daily basis, which in turn has resulted in verbal arguments. (Never physical). Both my sister and I grew up exposed to my fathers drinking and could regularly hear arguments whilst upstairs in our bedrooms at night, and hearing your parents shout and scream is hard. My father is a good man when sober , has always held down a full time job, financially supported us and when he hasn't had a drink he's an amazing family man too.
I just want you to know that as a child of someone that drinks heavily and daily it is emotionally hard and has shaped all of our lives. As we got older we became aware of our fathers drink related problems and I suppose became a custom to accepting that drink was and is his first choice.
What I'm trying to say is that no matter how hard you try to protect your children from their fathers drinking habits, (I know they are still young at the moment) sorry to say but it isn't possible, child pick up on everything.
I can't imagine how hard it must be for you to even contemplate getting a new job, selling your house or even having to relocate to a different area but frankly that is nothing compared to your children's memories that will be engraved in them for the rest of their lives.
If I'm brutally honest me and my sister still say to each other now that my mum should have left my father a long time ago, not only for our sake but for hers too, she could of had such a different life, even now they are still together but Lead separate lives.
Either way I really hope you find the strength that you need.
It will only get easier for you when you leave. Sell the house; its but bricks and mortar and is no sanctuary to any of you. Your house is a money pit of a project that will take years to complete and he was never your project to rescue and or save. Presumably it was his idea in the main to buy this fixer-upper too.
The 3cs re alcoholism:-
You did not cause it
You cannot control it
You cannot cure it
What you have described in grim and heart rending detail is the underlying chaos that life with an alcoholic cause. Your home life is never really stable is it and has not been for years; its always been chaotic on some level. Alcohol and anti depressants as well are a poor mix and he should not be mixing those. Alcohol as well is a depressant and you are right in thinking that he is self medicating with alcohol.
Alcoholism can also be learnt and he grew up with an alcoholic for a parent. That should have made you run for the hills right there but you stayed, got married and had children by your DH. The writing was on the wall re any relationship here long before you got married.
You are also going to have to address your roles here in his alcoholism and work on your own recovery. That will only properly start when you are completely away from him.
What do you get out of this relationship now?. Something has kept you here till now so what is it?. Fear of the unknown, your shame (that is totally misplaced), the hope against hope that he will change?.
Its probably all that and more besides but none are reasons to stay and your DDs are absorbing all this from you both as well. It is for
you that you should leave this man, they in turn cannot afford to continue to learn the damaging lessons that have already been imparted to them. They have seen more than enough already. Sound travels and they hear him and your responses; they do not have to be in the same room. They know more than you both care to realise, they see the empties in the recycling bin and they know something is wrong. I sincerely hope they do not blame themselves.
Its no legacy at all to leave your children, they could well go onto choose alcoholics as partners themselves or become super responsible for others at their expense. At the very least a shedload of emotional issues can be expected to fully head their way if you were to stay with him. Also your own relationship with them as adults could be affected because they could accuse you of being weak and putting him before them. Their childhoods are but fleeting and this is not at all what they should be seeing here.
They would rather much see you happier and healthier than to live in a house with their alcoholic dad and their mother being deeply unhappy as a result of his alcoholism. You are as caught up in this as he is really. You cannot protect them fully from their dad's alcoholism and what has been tried to date here has not worked unsurprisingly because he does not want to give up his beloved alcohol. It is alcohol that he has his primary relationship with, its not you or your children and alcohol is a cruel mistress.
Like many spouses to alcoholics you are playing the usual roles here; those of enabler and codependent. Neither are helping you and enabling him as you have done has simply given you a false sense of control.
It is painful to read but I would urge you to read the 3 act play that is alcoholism. Friends, family, co-workers and counsellors all feature:-
Do seek support from Al-anon as well. They can and will help you. You cannot save him but you can certainly and should help your own self here invoke your own recovery. You have a choice re this man; your children do not.
AttilaTheMeerkat - Very well written, I have very similar views to yourself. As hard as the situation is , the children are the ones who suffer. (Speaking from personal experience).
AtillaTheMeerkat - thank you, though hard to read and take it all in, it's what I need to hear to give me the strength to believe that splitting up is the right step to take.
I will re-read all these comments when I'm feeling down and unsure which is the right path - so thank you all.
I also have my mothers words ringing in my ears - my father wasn't a drinker but had a long term affair. My mother stayed with him, mostly for the sake of us kids and now regrets that she didn't have the courage to go it alone and give herself the chance for a happier relationship. I need to buck all these trends and teach my kids that staying in an unhappy relationship isn't an option and always ends up with consequences later in life.
Deep breaths, on with bedtime.
I've just had a look on DH computer and he's deactivated his Facebook account and has tabs 2 open - 1. best new bank accounts, 2. divorce papers.
Ok, we're on the same page. We just need to tell each other!!
Funny mix of emotions: sad, calm and a bit teary...
Having mixed emotions is totally understandable, just because you have made the decision that it is best to separate doesn't necessarily make it easy in anyway. At least you now know that you are both on the same page. I think the sooner you both are able to talk things through, despite how hard it may be, the better for both of your and your children.
Its very difgicult for you but if he is looking up divorce he is choosing drink over you and his girls. If he thinks taking 2 little ones to a pub in the middle of the day is ok you need to worry about contact.
Also be careful about your bank accounts that he doesnt clean you out as he is planning opening a new one.
Its sad as alcoholism is a horrible affliction.
So tough for you all op.
You sound fab and your dds are going to be ok. It will be hard but you're going to make it through. Xx
OP: Just to say I was in a similar situation to you. Escalating alcohol intake but still function. He could drink 2-3 bottles of wine a night. Soon as I started to question the effect on his health etc, he started to hide it. His father was an alcoholic and my dad has issues with alcohol too so I know all the signs.
He had periods where he tired to cut down, but honestly int he whole time we were together (22 years nearly) I can;t remember longer than a 3 day stretch where he didn't drink. The alcohol wasn't all the issue, he has anxiety and depression which he tried to medicate with alcohol. But it made him tired, grumpy and impossible to live with. ironically when he drank he became easier to live with. Mornings were always hell with tip toeing around not to upset him. Once he had his first drink in the day (usually early evening, sometimes lunch time if we went out) he would mellow. Only when he had a skinful would he be a twat.
Anyway, i left him 6 months ago. He still drinks an awful lot. Friends stayed with him at the weekend and (mutual friends) and they told me they thought he had started drinking in the morning. I think it was a one off, he was stressed to have a houseful etc without me. Point is he will have to reach rock bottom before he will address his alcohol intake. Me leaving hasn't done that yet.
Our relationship was toxic, alcohol played a big part in that. Good luck OP.
Wow @AttilaTheMeerkat you are wise, thank you.
You did not cause it
You cannot control it
You cannot cure it
I need this on a mug/t shirt etc. I spent (wasted) years trying to love my abusive ex husband enough to change him. Divorce goes through next month and no one will ever lay a finger on me or scream abuse at me again.
OP it's hard and painful but you have to protect yourself and your children. Hope you are ok. Speak to your GP and other support agencies to see what help is available for you emotionally and practically.
Urgh, Why is this so hard.
He's off to work in the Dublin office today and has been really vague about how long for. So before I left for work I very amicably approached him and asked him if he could let me know his movements so we have an agreed and consistent story to tell the kids. They're going to notice you've disappeared for over a week! We need to have a cover story! Like getting blood out of a stone. He could barely look at me and used as few words as he possibly could. The bitterness really hurt.
Trouble was my DD7 was listening at the door and heard bits of the conversation. I managed to reassure her that Daddy was working on a big project and we weren't sure how long he needed to be away. Cue me desperately fighting back the tears as I watched her face trying to process what I was saying and looking uncertain.
I spoke with his BF (who was also our BM) last night, who knows him as well as I do. We recently spent a weekend with him and he told me he was shocked at how much H was drinking and was concerned for his mental health. He's amazed that H is willing to throw everything away. He's going to have a chat with him, more to support him than to help me in any way.
H's reaction is throwing me - he's so angry at me. It's making me very emotional and taking away any strength I had at believing this was the right course of action. Gah.
You were right to appoach him and ask for some clarity regarding what is happening from this point on, not only for your sake but also for your children's sake.
Separating does sound like the best option for both you and your family, even though it is going to be extremely hard, you need to try and stand your ground and stay strong.
I suppose it's hard to know where to go from here due to him working away and not being able to discuss your future face to face. In what way is he showing anger towards you? Maybe this is he way in dealing with the realisation that you have found the strength to not put up with this anymore.
Name change (hopefully)
Gave up alcohol for a year - tick
Finding excuses to shoehorn in alcohol at every opportunity - tick
Health scares and mental illness - tick
Recovery time affecting family time - tick
Well liked, intelligent- tick
OP, everything above rings true for me too. I hate myself. Pure loathing which is exacerbated by the mental illness which in turn is exacerbated by the alcohol.
I realised just a week ago I just had to stop. Not for a year. Not 'just for social occasions'. Now and forever. I was going to ruin everything for everyone.
I'm not going to lie, I'm really scared at the moment both of the physical damage I have undoubtedly already done to myself and professionally (I work in a hugely macho industry and will now be known as the vegetarian tee total left leaning hippy or something).
Your husband will know in his mind what he's turning into too. If he's like me then he's also scared of what's happening - but it's going to have to be his decision to get out his spiral.
Your love and support (to whatever extent you can give - I appreciate there are some boundaries that can't be crossed) will mean something to him even if he doesn't show it externally. I used to snap and get grumpy with my wife but it was because I was thinking 'why are you being nice to me? I'm awful. Leave me alone.'
But I didn't want to be left alone.
And I didn't want to drink.
And this would make me more upset as I sat alone drinking.
I realise this post is pretty useless when it comes to advice, I just wanted you to know I really, really feel for you and yours and hope you can get through this.
Thank you @DeepSix - it's interesting to hear the other side of the story. I've been thinking a bit, over the last day or so, of what's going on inside his head. I know I will never truly understand and I know I can't change him as much as I would dearly love to, for his sake and for that of the kids.
I can change my role in this - I am taking away the crutch of enabling this behaviour, turning a blind eye, making excuses for him, being honest with people about what life is like with him. I'm done with keeping it all a horrible secret. My husband is a depressed alcoholic.
Last night was so peaceful. With him away and my heart and head detached, the low level anxiety that's always there, vanished. Me and the kids had a laugh and bedtime was smooth. I didn't have to worry about what time he was home, how much he'd drink whilst I was putting the kids to bed and what level of drunk company was I going to have for the evening. I slept for 7 hours - all the way through - his drunk snoring usually wakes me up several times a night.
It was sadly brilliant.
Taking it one day at a time, I know it's not always going to be as easy as last night, but it gives me hope to hold on to.
Does anyone have an good books to read that will help me figure out the best way for us to tell the children/co-parent ongoing?
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