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Yet another alcoholic DP thread....

(28 Posts)
leftorright Mon 19-Oct-09 12:45:49

I have namechanged due to the nature of this post - need a little privacy until things are clearer in my head. I have been watching several thread re. alcohol abusing partners recently and, as many posters say, have shocking deja vu reading through the details of a life with an alcoholic DP.

I'm not sure what to do at the moment - I have had years of bad behaviour from DP which peaked about 18 months ago when I told him I wanted to separate. It shocked him enough to go to an AA meeting and then he started, and completed, a telephone counselling course. He was sober for about 6 months and then started drinking alcohol-free beer, then 'just one' beer and you can guess the route from there.

Like many others, he is very much a functioning alcoholic and his consumption (that I know of) is currently quite low - max 4 cans of strong lager a night, not every night. But recently he had a bingey week with the usualy excuses (old friends in town, stress at work etc) culminating in him drinking beer and wine at home then smoking a spliff, coming to bed and puking in our wastepaper basket (nice).

After that I said again that if he didn't stop drinking permanently I wanted to split up. He said he doesn't think that's necessary and since then has been a pillar of pious good behaviour. But I think it's too late - I certainly don't trust him any more, and really don't like him when he's been near the booze. He is a master of passive aggression so will not make any moves himself, just react to mine. There are the usual reasons I don't want to make the final decision (3 DCs, 15 years together, lots of fond, fun memories, life is good when he doesn't drink etc), but how can I make the decision and know it's the right one?

I would really appreciate some advice particularly from those who have been/are going through similar.

Sorry this is long!

pottycock Mon 19-Oct-09 12:51:02

I am going through similar with a DP who has a prescription drug addiction. We are living separately now and it is so much easier for me.

pottycock Mon 19-Oct-09 12:54:23

My experience is that they don't change unless you draw a very clear line demarcating the end of your tolerance. The hard thing is that your own boundaries are pushed and pushed by all the lies, deceit and confusion until suddenly you're accepting way more than you thought you ever would.

I've come to the realisation that I can't make break for him, and that by even allowing him to live with me, I facilitate his addiction. There are no consequences for him as I managed everything around him for a long time.

I don't want that for my life any more.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 19-Oct-09 13:22:18

You've had 15 years with him, do you really want another 15?.

No trust = no relationship in my view. This is all built on sand, your household is broken.

Four cans of lager every night will equate to 28 pints a week; that's way too much and you're all on this merry go around of alcoholism. And he's still drinking every night. If life is good when he is not drinking then its likely to be pretty much crap for you when he is.

Alcoholism affects everyone around them, not just the alcoholic. You're all caught up in the merry go around and co dependency cycle.

A good rehab unit to my mind would look at the family unit and work with them as well as the alcoholic. He had no real intention at that time of wanting to deal with his alcoholism and the root causes of it. He only went to one AA meeting - that says an awful lot.

You can only issue an ultimatum once and you have to see it through. Ultimatums if repeated lose all their power.

Where's your own real life support - have you ever talked to Al-anon?. They are helpful as they can help family members of problem drinkers.

Your partner may go onto lose everything and he may still choose to drink. He may not ever be able to stop permanently. That is his choice ultimately, you cannot force a change in him.

You are NOT responsible for him. You likely feel a great sense of responsibility towards him but that is really misplaced.

He has to want to help his own self here, you cannot do it for him.

You're still there and by that you're enabling him to carry on. How many excuses over the years have you made for him to all sorts of people?.

Its not just about you either, your children have seen more than you perhaps realise and heard all this as well. You cannot hide the full realities from them, the elephant in the room. How about them, you have a choice at the end of the day re him. They have no say.

Hoe much of the last 15 years can you honestly say were actually happy?. My guess is that if you took a cold and long hard look at this you'd say not many at all.

The 3cs re alcoholism:-
You did NOT cause it
You cannot control it
You cannot cure it

SnowieBear Mon 19-Oct-09 13:35:49

leftorright, I don't know whether I can offer advice, but I certainly understand where you stand - my DH is with AA since March, prior to that, we went to hell and back on a daily basis.

What strikes me from your post immediately is that you really need to separate your feelings on the relationship and your feelings on the alcoholism - trust is always going to be an issue with an alcoholic, even if in recovery. Is a split what you want independently of what he does re: booze? There's no denying the battering partners take and the fact that sometimes, by the time the alcoholic gets some help, it is too late for the relationship.

Re: your DP's relapse... it's back to step one, me thinks! Have you been attending Al-Anon meetings yourself, or reading AA materials? These may help you with your perspective too.

Sorry, this is not very helpful or clear, I know... Your question "how can I make the decision and know it's the right one?" may not even have an answer. If it does, it's one you'll only find in your heart of hearts. It's incredibly difficult, my thoughts are with you.

leftorright Mon 19-Oct-09 14:08:14

Thanks for your replies - I really am trying to find some clarity. Snowiebear, your point about separating the alcoholic from the relationship and associated feelings gets to the root of it. I'm at the stage where our life together is so muddied by the drinking that I don't know if the relationship is worth saving, sober or not.

I have found an al-anon meeting here and am trying to organise childcare so I can attend (DP works late sometimes, so he won't be here).

Attilla - I said the same thing about AA and the phone counselling; I felt it was a big cop out and that anything can be said on the phone, he could even have been drinking at the time he was talking! But it did some good and I think it was the first time he had learnt any kind of self examination.

I know no-one but me can make the decision, it's just I'm really struggling with it. Maybe it's because it feels like as usual it's up to me to make the decision and move things forward. He is pretty comfortable in his day to day life and any change would mean him leaving the family home, which obviously he doesn't want to do (as he claims there is not really the problem I say there is).

jmacon Mon 19-Oct-09 14:20:37

*I know no-one but me can make the decision, it's just I'm really struggling with it. Maybe it's because it feels like as usual it's up to me to make the decision and move things forward. He is pretty comfortable in his day to day life and any change would mean him leaving the family home, which obviously he doesn't want to do (as he claims there is not really the problem I say there is). *

This is exactly the predicament I face except you have put it more succinctly then I have. I have decided to keep a log of the good times vs the bad, how much time he stays in bed sleeping it off, how may drinks he has (last week it was a conservative estimate of 45-50 pints). Im hoping it will help the reality of the situation to sink in.

leftorright Mon 19-Oct-09 14:31:31

Ouch jmacon, that is SO much alcohol. I too have kept really sad notes over the years, especially when we have hit a new low. It makes tragic reading and when I see it in black and white I cannot believe I'm still here dithering about what to do. I have tried to show them to him, but not surprisingly he doesn't want to know.

The trouble for me is that he goes back to 'normal' quite quickly and then implies that I am selfish to want to deprive DCs of their daddy just because I don't like him drinking a 'few' cans here and there. Most people who know him would be very surprised to know this was our problem. He is quite introvert, rarely goes out and does most of his drinking at home. I've stopped trying to calculate his consumption since I found all the empties in the garage and shed and realised I didn't really have a clue how much he drank.

jmacon Mon 19-Oct-09 14:41:39

It is alot isnt it? I'm just so used to it I guess, that it doesnt shock me. THis between casual drinking and a couple of nights in the pub . If he gies on a real session you could add in at least 10 measures of spirits as well. What does it take for women like us to leave? I cant believe I've not left already. There are so many terrible things he has done in the past which would make me leave without thinking NOW so why not when they happened.

leftorright Mon 19-Oct-09 14:56:49

I think the units creep up on you. When I look at our bank statement, it is dotted with amounts for the offy and supermarket, once I added them all up and showed DP who claimed it wasn't just booze, and wasn't just him!!

I have been reading these threads about partners of addicts - my father was an alcoholic so I guess it's true about repeating paterns of behaviour. I think in my case I'm a pleaser and don't want to upset anyone - the irony!! I don't like confrontation or arguements and am generally optimistic/deluded about things changing. However, I hvae noticed recently that I am getting much better at standing my ground and not just doing what I think people want - eg in shops, or when someone is rude. NOw, I just have to start applying that at home.... perhaps that's why I've come to this junction now?

ADifferentMe Mon 19-Oct-09 15:28:57

In a very similar situation to you and have had a lot of good advice on these boards, the best of which was to go to AlAnon.

My DH has cut down to (I believe) only drinking at weekends recently but I think tbh the love and trust have just gone. If he stopped drinking completely, would you want to stay with him? or has it caused such huge rift there's no way back?

I also recognise what you say about the mystery amounts in supermarkets and the denial. I feel like I must be imagining the problem sometimes. DH is also a secret smoker and the bills for both run into about £300 a month.

In our case it would be a very bad time to rock the boat from DD1's point of view - GCSE year.

I'm struggling to find the courage to say next June that I've had enough. Good luck deciding what you want.

Anonanother Mon 19-Oct-09 16:00:27

(I've name changed)

Just wanted to re-iterate what someone else said about whether you'd still want to be with him if he does stop drinking. This is most definatley something to think long and hard about. I think when you are in a situation like this it is very difficult to think too far ahead into the future, it was for me anyway.

Last year I discovered that my DP had a heroin addiction. My DS was 2 and I was pregnant. At the time I just wanted to get to the end of the day, never mind think about our future. The difference with heorin, or any other drug, is that is not a socailly acceptable as alcohol, which in someways makes it a harder addiciton to beat.

He's been clean for nearly 9 months now, and we are incredibly happy. Thing is though it was such a rapid process that I didn't have years of living with his addiction and resenting him for it. I do however constantly have to live with the fear that he might re-lapse. I'm suspicious of money thats un-counted for, I'm suspicious when he's ill, in a bad mood, the list is endless and I know it will get easier, but I also know that the doubt and suspiscion is something that I will have to live with for as long as we are together.

I really urge you to consider if he's worth the sacrifices you will have to make.

Parmageddon Mon 19-Oct-09 16:15:16

My ex-h was an increasing alcoholic over the last 7 years we were together. I too was an enabler, keeping everything secret, despite him becoming more and more violent over that time. His erratic behaviour also extended outside the home, resulting in police visits to our house.

I think it's a very personal point you have to get to where you can't take any more. I definitely recommend getting outside help, eg Al-Anon or a counsellor who can support you while you reach your decision. I think the alcoholism quite often destroys the relationship. But it is so personal to you. Also I think any addiction tends to get worse and worse over time if not dealt with.

NanaNina Mon 19-Oct-09 17:34:12

Leftorright - I had experience of this problem in my first marriage many years ago and left the marriage and never looked back. PLease please don't think I am condoning your H in any way because he is responsible for his actions and the way his drinking is affecting you. However I do think that there is usually an underlying reason for "problem" behaviour, be it drinking/eating/smoking to excess etc. Would it be any use the 2 of your getting some good therapy to see if there is underlying the drinking and if that could be sorted, maybe the drinking could be controlled. I'm in no way sure because I think the prognosis for problem drinkers is generally quite poor.

Everyone is talking about AA and Al anon and I'm sure these organisations are helpful but is there an Aquarius Organisation near you. They too deal with problem drinking but the person has to demonstrate their motivation to want to sort the problem, and this is tested quite rigorously. If your H is ready to take on board your concerns and is motivated to change then he needs to prove that, and maybe that could be your starting point. If he continues (as most problem drinkers do) to deny there is a problem, I think the future looks bleak.

I note you don't like confrontation and that's by no means unusual or odd, but I do wonder if your passivity is going to be the thing that holds you back from taking any action. If your H is not willing to go to counselling could you get some support for yourself (though I think this is why posters are suggesting Al Anon) or some counselling, which may give you the emotional strength you need to deal with this problem.

leftorright Mon 19-Oct-09 17:45:41

I have just booked a Relate session for the two of us. Last week in an argument I asked him to go (to Relate) and he said he would - but have texted him to inform him of the time and not had a response. Wonder if he'll really come? He absolutely refused before and I went on my own which was kind of useful but a little pointless really. Again, if he doesn't turn up it will be a very clear indication of his commitment to fixing things.

It is very helpful to hear all your view points as I ricochet between them myself. That is what I mean about wanting to get some clarity - I find it hard to decide exactly what I want/feel, particularly with regard to the strength of my feelings for him aside from the drinking.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 19-Oct-09 18:10:05


His primary relationship is with drink, everything and everyone else comes a dim and distant second. They can become very selfish and there is no reasoning with them.
You can't ever hope to outwit an alcoholic.

The emotional blackmail that he has employed on you is par for the course with some alcoholics. His behaviour though is impacting badly on your day to day lives. You and your children are profoundly affected by his behaviours. I think it is perhaps only when you decide that you can't take any more that you will see exactly what he has done to you all. Where is your own rock bottom, just how bad does it have to get?.

Although he went to counselling the problem was when that finished he went back to the drink. He probably thought that after these counselling sessions he was "cured". Well no actually. Or he did such counselling mainly at your instigation which if that was the case was doomed to failure.

BTW how many people in your real life circle know of his drinking problem?. My guess is not many.

What do his parents think of their son, are they heavy drinkers themselves?. Do they know the extent of the problem?.

If he does not go to Relate go on your own.
I actually think going with him jointly to Relate would be a waste of time because he won't listen to anyone. They may be able to give you some more clarity.

I would also be talking to Al-anon as they can be helpful in these circumstances. They also publish some very good pamphlets on the whole subject of alcoholism.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 19-Oct-09 18:17:03


I see that Ludog has posted up the "Merry go around of denial" pamphlet on the thread entitled "Support thread for the partners of addicts part 2" on these very pages.

You may find it helpful, would urge you to read it.

Snorbs Mon 19-Oct-09 18:44:31

leftorright, I went to Relate because of alcohol-related problems with my (then) partner. We had the introductory session but at the end the counsellor said that they don't do counselling for couples if there's alcohol or other drug addictions at work as there's no point. The alcohol/drug issues swamp everything else. The counsellor did, though, suggest that I go for one-on-one counselling.

leftorright Mon 19-Oct-09 19:08:27

Attila - I know about the primary relationship! I have said to him it is like he is having a long, passionate affair because that it what is always foremost in his mind, when he wakes, through the day, etc and this was confirmed by the counsellor too. It's a good point about my rock bottom - I'm sitting around waiting for him to hit it, when actually I should be watching out for my own.

Snorbs - when I went to Relate on my own before they said pretty much the same thing. That an alcohol problem should be addressed first and that if I was so unhappy with the situation then there was not really much they could counsel me and I should examine why I stay.

I guess I'm really just throwing out testers to him, so that I can say I have given him every chance (tending to play the victim I suppose) but so that I know I have exhausted each possibility - "if he drinks before the kids are in bed that's it" "if he lies about having had a drink that's it" "if he doesn't come to Relate with me that's it" and I'm just wimping out of the final meltdown. Becuase he doesn't say anything about our relationship it's like having a crazy schizophrenic conversation with myself where I have to voice both sides of the arguement. Again, I suppose all this energy I'm using on my constant, internal dialogue leaves him in peace and quiet to have a nice drink!!

I feel like I'm always waiting for him to have some sort of epiphany Hollywood style where he sits up, realising what a fool he's been, pours away the booze and we all go for a run on the beach together! I can't believe he's not prepared to make any effort and literally just piss it away.

leftorright Mon 19-Oct-09 19:32:20

Sorry Attila, have just been re-reading your thorough posts! My DP's family have a very strange attitude to alcohol. I think his Dad is alcoholic - he drinks a huge amount of whisky but would be horrified if anyone suggested that this was a bad thing (even after a quad. bypass). Once, when they went out together and DP came home so pissed he passed out on the sofa within seconds, his dad said "is he not man enough to take a drink?" What a twat.

Once in the past I tried to have my own intervention - I drove us and then only DC up to their house on the premise of Sunday lunch and then at the table said "X has a drink problem which he can't control, and if he doesn't sort it out I'm leaving him. You need to help him find a way to do this as I clearly can't" and then I left. Of course, within minutes of my leaving he had told them I was hysterical and convinced everyone had a drink problem because of my own father!

Snorbs Mon 19-Oct-09 22:08:07

It is sadly very common for people in long-term relationships with alcoholics to end up almost obsessed with trying to think up ways of getting them to realise what they're doing, or getting them to stop, or making ultimatums, or trying to work out why they're doing what they're doing.

I know I did. Almost drove me nuts.

With my ex we ended up in a cycle where after the end of one or other month-long binge, she'd insist that, this time, she really understood why I was so upset and promised to never drink again. A couple of weeks later, that would change to "Not going to drink for a few months". Which would then change to "Not going to drink every day". Then "Not going to get drunk". And then she'd get into a new binge.

There were a number of things that, for me, marked the end. One was the realisation that she was simply doing what she wanted. It's not illegal to be drunk for days at a time. It's not how I would choose to live my life but how she chooses to live her life is not my responsibility. My responsibility lay in deciding what I would accept from someone else, and what I would not. I decided I didn't want to live with someone who lied to me, broke their promises to me, and for whom I was less important than a £2.99 bottle of Soave.

leftorright Tue 20-Oct-09 08:47:15

Well that sounds just like me. I try not to obssess about it and to leave him to his own self-made mess, but with little kids around it's hard as they obviously want to include him, and this normalises things for him. I think I am at the point of making the same decision as you but it seems overwhelming, particularly as he is behaving as though this is just another little domestic, asking " are you still in a mood"!. He's right - it's happened that way so many times, why should this one be different.

I do feel that he is making a choice - admittedly the drinking beyond his control, but it is upsetting to think he won't even talk about it and would choose booze over his family every time.

SueMunch Tue 20-Oct-09 11:53:17

Before I start, this is just my opinion. I'm not defending anyone, just trying to help.

I think that many men go through a prolonged period where their relationship with drink can go in a few directions.

Some men face up to family resposibilities very quicly, so their old social life drops away and they readily embrace the family life. This means that they go out on occasion and have a few drinks, but never on the scale described here.

However, other men think that because they are bringing in the money and are active with their families, they seem no reason to move away from the patterns of drinking that they followed in their teens and twenties.

With this type of drinker there is bound to be conflict. As a mother you will have given up alcohol for long periods and your focus is naturally on the children, whereas men can seem to carry on without adapting or changing.

So what you have is a virtually sober, safe drinking wife and a heavy drinking husband.

However, any relationship in which you are unhappy with the behaviour of the other half needs serious work and action.

I would suggest these stages:

1) Get a babysitter and go somewhere alcohol free. Issue a final ultimatum - the drinking has to be controlled

2) He has to leave the house for a period. If this causes him embarassment then that is his fault - he should arrange his own accomodatiion.

3) If he agrees to act, a visit to the GP is next. He needs to discuss the health impact of his drinking, but also the fact that he may have an underlying mental health issue.

4) He should attend alcohol and addiction counselling. This has to be on his own initiative, not as a measure to pleae you,

5) Others will have seen my posts on AA but I think that if the first four options have failed, then AA is the only option. This can be quite frightening for the person with the problem as it is hard for them to face life without it. But that is their choice.

6) If stages 4&5 fail then you have to end it - you need to have your own life. And your children don't need this.

Snorbs Tue 20-Oct-09 13:18:00

The drinking itself may or may not be under his control. His choices regarding what he's going to do about it are entirely under his control.

Alcohol abuse in a family is a complex issue that has several commingled factors. One is the actual alcoholism itself. It's a dangerous, and potentially fatal, progressive drug addiction. That side of it is his problem to deal with. You didn't cause it, you can't control it, you can't cure it. That bit is all down to him.

The second factor is the impact his drinking has on family life. The money spent on booze, the days out that get ruined because he's drunk or hungover, the unpredictable and inconsistent way he reacts to the kids depending on his blood-alcohol levels, worries about whether he'll turn up to the meet-the-teacher event stinking of booze, and so on.

Then there is the impact his drinking is having on your relationship with him. His lies, his broken promises, the walking-on-eggshells you do around him, the lies you may tell to other people to help cover up the problem, the brooding silences and resentments...

There are ways to reduce the impact someone else's drinking has on family life. There are also ways of avoiding having his drinking become the centrepiece for your life. This doesn't (necessarily) mean splitting up but it can be bloody hard work while you un-learn the less healthy habits and learn some more helpful ones. The gist of it is to be very clear about which problems are his to deal with and which ones are your responsibility. Pretty much everything else flows from that core principle.

There is a truly great book called "Co-dependency No More" by Melody Beattie that I always recommend in these situations because it tackles these kinds of issues head-on. Whether you fully buy into the "co-dependent" concept or not (I don't entirely) the book is still worth reading. Al-Anon can also be well worth attending, although personally I found one-on-one counselling (arranged through my GP) helped me more.

I'm not sure I agree that ultimatums are the way to go. To issue an ultimatum is to effectively try to control someone else and that doesn't sit well with me these days. Instead, maybe look at this more as a "boundary" thing. The difference is that ultimatums are directed at one person and are generally of the form "If you do X then I'll do Y in retribution". A boundary isn't aimed at anyone in particular and is about self-preservation against situations that you find unacceptable rather than control of someone else. Eg, an ultimatum is "If you drink again then I'm leaving you!" A boundary is more "I do not like being in the presence of somebody who is out-of-control drunk. If I find someone like that, then I will leave the room / house / party etc" or "I do not want to be in a relationship with someone who is abusive to me. If I find myself in such a relationship, then I will leave".

It may seem like a subtle distinction but boundaries are about ones own actions and choices, whereas ultimatums are more about other people's actions.

SueMunch Tue 20-Oct-09 15:24:40

Well said Snorbs.

I agree there is a fine line between a boundary and an ultimatum but I think the OP has made the boundaries clear and they have been broken.

I just feel that asking him to leave in order to consider his behaviour would help.

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