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.
Husband secret drinking(25 Posts)
I've caught my husband drinking in secret over the years (been married 7 years). He drinks in front of me at home (typically beer/wine couple of times a week/ some weeks once or not at all) but for some reason (which he can't explain) he also drinks (vodka) in secret, in the past this has been in the house when I'm asleep. I've confronted him in the past and after him lying initially he admits but says it will be last time. However, today in the car I picked up an empty sports drink bottle - it smelt strongly of vodka, and with the tiny bit of liquid left in the bottle I tasted it. I confronted him and he initially said it wasn't vodka but then admitted to it. He says he can't explain why but sometimes things get too much and he needs a drink (he can't explain why he hides it). He says he bought the drink on the way home from work and drank it over a few occasions in the car outside our house before he comes in ( he promises he has never drunk and driven). I asked to see his bank statement as I don't believe that this is a one-off. From his statement there are regular transactions at supermarkets / corner shops for £10ish which can't be explained with buying other things as all food shopping comes from my account. I asked him about this and he finally admits there is a problem but when I said he needs help and to tell his parents he said no. He thinks this can be solved between just the two of us. I'm fed up of lying and I don't trust him now. Especially as he said he sometimes drinks on bus on way home from work. We have 2 young children and I don't know what to do? I don't want to spilt up over this (been together 12 years) but I can't see how this will stop if he doesn't get help?
What do you get out of this relationship now?. If you do not trust him and are fed up with his lying then I have to ask you why you are still there. You cannot protect yourself fully from the realities of his alcoholism let alone your children (who are hearing and seeing far more than you care to realise as well).
Do you think he is driving under the influence as well?. Its not beyond the realms of possibility here. He could also go onto lose everything and everyone around him and he could still choose to drink afterwards. There are no guarantees here. The 3cs re alcoholism are indeed prescient; you did not cause this, you cannot control this and you cannot cure this.
Stating that you do not want to split up over this (been together over 12 years) sounds like the sunken costs fallacy and that causes people to keep on making poor relationship decisions. The idea of sunk cost states that an investment of money, time or energy must not necessarily influence your continued investment of money, time or energy. The past investment is “sunk” into the endeavour and cannot be recouped. It is gone. Ongoing investment will not resuscitate what is gone when the investment is a bad one.
People get bogged down by focusing on their sunk costs.
There are two ways to understand this process, both involving avoidance. One is an avoidance of disappointment or loss when something doesn’t work out. When a relationship doesn’t succeed, especially after a long period, especially after many shared experiences and especially after developing a hope that the relationship would be a good one, it is a loss. It is a loss of what might have been and an acknowledgement that a part of one’s life has been devoted to this endeavour.
Another angle to evaluate is that focus on “sunk cost” creates a distraction from one’s inner truth. The sentence often goes like, “I’ve already invested to much, so I can’t notice my thoughts and feelings that are telling me to end or change this relationship.” This is a type of insidious defense against noticing yourself. You enter into a neglectful relationship with yourself which divorces you from your inner thoughts and the quiet feelings that might guide you in your life. In other words, thinking about what already has been may prevent you from deciding what you want your life to be.
Would you describe him as an alcoholic?. Like many alcoholics he is in denial to the extent of the problem.
What do you want to teach your children about relationships and what are they learning here? They really do not warrant having an alcoholic dad in their day to day lives; it will mess with their heads big time and could well leave them with a whole raft of emotional problems as adults (being super responsible, picking alcoholics as partners themselves, mired in codependency themselves).
The only one who can help your husband here re his alcoholism is him. Not you (you are too close to the situation to be of any real use to him, not that he wants your help anyway) not his parents, not his employers, nor his GP nor anyone else. Familial coercion does not work. This also cannot be solved between the two of you; he is not your responsibility when all is said and done although you likely feel very responsible for him. He cannot and should not make you responsible for his drinking.
You seem to be playing out the usual roles here associated with such spouses; namely those of provoker, enabler and co-dependent. Such relationships like you describe often have co-dependency in them too.
You need to get off the merry go around that is alcoholism before you and your children get completely dragged down by him. Your own recovery from his alcoholism will only properly start once you are separated from him.
You cannot help him but you can certainly help your own self here.
I would also suggest you personally attend Al-anon meetings if at all possible. They are very helpful to people affected by another person's drinking. At the very least do read their literature and or call their helpline.
This is their UK website:- www.al-anonuk.org.uk/
He doesn't act like an alcoholic. If i didn't 'catch him out' then I'd never know as it is done in secret. He is a loving husband and father but I don't like the thought of this secret drinking which it appears I'm largely unaware of and I can't see how to stop it (he is saying that he wants to stop doing it). His solution is for his wages to be paid into my account so he doesn't have money to buy drink. I'm not so sure?
His wages being paid into your account? No way. He has to take responsibility for his own drinking and behaviour, not pass it to you.
He doesn't fit your idea of an alcoholic, but the he may well be a 'functional alcoholic'. The fact that you had to 'catch him out' in itself tells you there is a problem.
Taking responsibility for himself starts with getting professional help, via GP or AA, or similar.
I'd strongly suggest find out more about alcoholism for your own understanding and wellbeing, there has been some great BBC coverage which I'll post later.
Agree with Atilla, go to Al-anon, they will help you to see that he is acting like an alcoholic, sorry.
The presenter on those programs is a bit too focused on 'how to help' the alcoholic, but the experts and callers talk a lot of sense.
It must be quite a shock, Flossie
Where do you see yourself in a year's time; still with him?.
Like many posts of this type its mainly about the alcoholic. What you write about your own self and how you feel is scant; that is typical too. Words are cheap, its actions that matter and he does not want to stop drinking. Stopping drinking without outside support is nigh on impossible.
How does an alcoholic act to your mind?. Drinking in secret is all part of an overall pattern of such behaviour. What you directly see is probably the tip of the iceberg, there is an awful lot you do not see.
How would you describe your H now?. What do you think and feel when you see him?. Is he really such a loving husband and father when you do not trust him and are fed up with his lying behaviours?. What are your children learning about relationships from the two of you here?. Would you want them to have a relationship like yours is, you would I think say no. Well stop showing them that this treatment of you is acceptable to you. BTW did you grow up seeing heavily drinking parent/s yourself?.
Your H's primary relationship is with drink (its not with you) and his thoughts centre on where the next drink is going to come from.
It sounds like he wants to make you responsible further for him by transferring his wages to you. Do not agree to this. Such bargaining behaviours as well are often done by the alcoholic and they do not work either. He will find other ways to buy drink and you will not be aware of those. He is a past master at keeping secrets from you and he lies to himself as well as you. You need to get off this merry go around before he really does further drag you and your children down with him.
You say he doesn't act like an alcoholic but he's drinking (and spirits too) in secret, hiding it in travel cups, secretly buying alcohol behind your back - how do you think alcoholics act?
I've grown up with alcoholics and it will not change unless he wants to change and unless he commits to it. My stepfather hit rock bottom after impregnating another woman and losing his family. He was drinking vodka in the mornings, hiding booze everywhere. In the end he went to rehab, joined AA and has been sober for 17 years. It is possible to change but he has to want to. There needs to be a consequence to his deception and alcoholism. Keeping everything quiet and reducing his access to alcohol isn't dealing with the problem.
You've let yourself be taken in by his lies for far too long. If his wages get paid into your account he will just find another to pay for his habit, while you lulling you into yet another false sense of security.
It's time to get tough, he's minimising and telling you outright lies, alll in a desperate attempt to keep on drinking. His addiction is his mistress and he doesn't want to give her up. Stop keeping his secrets.
Thanks everyone. Yes, I can see there is a problem and I can't fix it. I showed him this thread and after initially saying he could stop himself he has agreed to phone the help line tomorrow. I've said I will be out of the house and he must be totally honest. I'm hoping they will be able to give him some advise. I don't want the relationship to end - currently the drinking doesn't affect kids or me (besides from being fed up of lying and feeling I can't trust him) but I am aware that without intervention this will just get worse and could destroy our relationship. I want to give him 1 chance to see if he can recover from this.
You've done an excellent job of being very open with him. Best way forward.
He doesn't act like an alcoholic
But he really does. Drinking in secret - why would you do that if you didn't have a problem with the stuff?
I've come on here, OP, to say that I've been in your shoes and you could not get better advice than Attila has given you. It's a lot to take in but it's all true.
I've given up on my marriage now and I wish I'd done it a damn sight sooner. I've waited around for my husband to get sober and for our family to have the fairytale ending. While I was doing that, my children were being brought up in a chaotic alcoholic home with an unpredictable and dangerous man who thought nothing of driving with his kids in the car. No more.
It's not just about giving up drinking either. The alcoholic has a completely different attitude to life which doesn't change merely because they abstain.
I tried all sorts of things to stop my STBXH from drinking and nothing worked. I left two years ago and haven't looked back.
It took 3 years of pain and indecision to leave. I'd posted on here and was told emphatically to LTB.
We've been apart two years and I love my life.
My father was an alcoholic. Full-blown, 2 bottles of vodka a day, hiding them all over the house. My mother never worked outside the home, so for that reason, she stayed until he'd also been out of work for four years and the money started to run out. At that point, she threatened divorce and threw him out of the house. They never did get divorced because that was the kick up the arse he needed to get some proper help. He went to his GP and the whole detox process started. About 9 months later, he was dry, and had a job again. She asked him to move back in and he gladly did because despite his alcoholism, he always did his duty and he had three children aged 17, 15 and 4 with her.
All I would say is, make sure you have the means to support yourself so that you always have the option to leave and do not 'have' to stay, like my mother did, or do not use someone, like my mother did when she asked him to move back in once he had a job again. At no point did she ever get a job herself.
Well I'm glad he's seeking help.
Neat vodka on the way home on the bus.
Wow! That's bad and a pretty low point from where I'm sitting.
You can help yourself in all this as well.
Get onto Al-Anon, they help the families of alcoholics.
I really hope he can sort himself out.
Unfortunately this is the 1st jolt he's had.
It usually takes a lot more than that with an addiction like this.
OP, you are as much in denial as he is... I was you, two years ago. I thought we could overcome it. I was wrong and we are now divorcing. My H is a fundamentally good man, but he is also an alcoholic. And that is incompatible with a normal family relationships. At the very least he has to move out, sober up and rebuild himself - and not attempt to move back into your lives until he has been sober for a very substantial amount of time. It is unlikely that he will achieve this without professional help.
He doesn't act like an alcoholic
Most people make the mistake of thinking that an alcoholic looks like a tramp - filthy dirty, bottle in a paper bag, shuffling round the streets, passing out on park benches. The truth is that most don't look like that. Most are what's called 'functioning alcoholics'. There are probably one or two alcoholics at the school gates every morning and evening, and you wouldn't necessarily know.
My H was perfectly functioning until he lost it completely last July and started sloping off home at midday claiming he didn't feel well - and when I got home I'd either find him drunk on the sofa or passed out in bed with the bedroom stinking of booze. When I found bottles in the bedroom, I acted - I have a thread going on here.
Alcoholics don't necessarily drink every day either. Mine could go without if he needed to, as long as he knew there was a major amount of drink in his future soon. He didn't unravel into real excess until the very end.
Flossie85: Thank you for your post, it made so much sense. I'm just waking up to the fact there is absolutely nothing I can do to help my husband.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.