Alcoholic Husband

Updated on March 30, 2010
A.S. asks from Fayetteville, AR
18 answers

I am wondering how many of you have an alcoholic husband or have had one in the past. My husband is an alcoholic. He is a great father but lacks in the spouse department. We have recently separated but we talk and still spend some time together. We both still love each other but he has problems, obviously being an alcoholic. He doesn't drink everyday but that doesn't matter. His drinking really bothers me and I know that it is a disease. A physiological biological disease. I don't think it's as easy as he can stop if he really wants to. I do miss him though. It's better living apart because I don't have to deal with his mood swings but i miss our good times and I wish we could spend more (sober) time together. I just don't know if there's no hope for alcoholics and to just try to force myself to let him go. I don't really want to find someone else but I want a good relationship. Has anyone had experience with these kind of issues? It's such a deep subject and I know alcoholism pervades a lot of peoples lives in someway through some relative or something. I'd really appreciate your responses. I feel like I can't win either way. Either I try to let go of the man I really love (and the father of my daughter) because of his disease and how it affects our relationship or I try to be close to a man that needs help but isn't ready to seek it. And either way he is in my life daily because we share time with our daughter equally. I do know about Al-anon and have been to meetings in the past but i guess I didn't really like them..The interesting thing is that if he's around me and my daughter he won't drink but when I am gone or if he's alone (at his apartment since he moved out) he will drink. I guess it's more of a lonely thing for him. It has been pretty rare that he would drink around our daughter but it has happened. He still seemed able to take decent care of her and would never be abusive or mean to our little girl. It's just so confusing because when he is sober we can have a nice time together, he is a great father and can be a nice husband when he wants to. Even when he drinks he's not terrible. It's just that we both know it's a problem (he will admit that) and he really shouldn't drink at all. He might want to quit but not enough to go to AA. But I still love him and don't want to give him the divorce ultimatum.

What can I do next?

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answers from Houston on

Dear A.:
First of all, you did the right thing for two reasons: You extracted yourself (and your daughter I hope) from a bad situation, and you have made it clear to him how important this is, giving him an incentive and a timeframe to get his act together.

Secondly, although most call it a disease, I beg to differ. A disease is something you contract or develop without a fault of your own. You may have a predisposition to becoming addicted, but to actually succumb to your addiction is a voluntary - if gradual - step you choose. Once you realize you are addicted, you can come clean, even if it is hard. You can quit drinking, but you cannot quit cancer, psoriasis or any other REAL disease. Calling it a 'disease' is a PC term that does more harm than good.

American Heritage Dictionary for 'disease':
"A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms."

Unlike smoking, obesity from overeating, or drinking too much coffee, an addiction to alcohol is personality-altering in the long run and incapacitating/intoxicating in the short run, making it a lot more difficult and dangerous to deal with. By calling it a disease, the 'victim' may say or think: "See, a disease, nothing I can do about it, not my fault." Wrong. There's only one 'cure'. Absolutely no alcohol, be it AA, a strong will or total isolation from the substance. After the worst symptoms are over, he can NEVER IN HIS LIFE touch another drop, not even inside a chocolate praline.

Dealing with society is easy. If you say you are an alcoholic (and he always will be, even after being 'clean' for decades), nobody will hold it against you, if you drink coke, coffee, ice tea, water, OJ or milk instead. As a spouse you may choose to do the same to help him.

But since you asked for advice and not a regurgitation of medical definitions, here's my 2 cents:
- Tell him that he has a choice: Either down the drain with alcohol or a good life with you and his daughter.
- Tell him the choice has to be made by next weekend (give him some time to think it through during sober moments), not in the vague future. Put a date on it.
- Tell him that you will support him, but you will leave for good, if he ever has another drop (whether he is drunk or not). Of course, you need to make an exception for medicines that only come in that form, but the doctor needs to know of the danger.

The good news is that I met a couple of clean alcoholics, so it is possible. They all had to face a wake-up call, and they have to really want it. The alternative to go back to drinking should not be a viable option.

From your perspective, look at alcohol as 'the other woman'. Would you be OK to share him for a night per week? Per month? No, it is EITHER/OR.

I wish you luck. Be firm! It is his fight and his choice, you can only lead the horse to water, but if it doesn't drink you shoot it (make that 'leave it behind').


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Dear A.,
I have been where you're at at where your husband is. My husband and I used to party together and we knew we needed to quit. I was able to do it be he wasn't. I had to kick him out to protect myself and to not enable him. It is a long story but we are both sober now (without AA). You are very right about him needing to be ready. It's hard to understand that if he loves you and your daughter, than why can't he do it for you? He will have to hit his own personal bottom. I'm sure that you are lonely but you are doing the right thing by not letting him live with you. Just try and keep yourself busy and work on you and your daughters well being. Of course you should be supportive of him but only things related to him being sober(without nagging him). Alcoholics will use any excuse to get drunk including you bugging him about it. Trust me, I know what type of stress you are feeling...let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

Hi A.,

I really hope this helps BUT my father growing up was an alchoholic!!! My parents did divorce when I was only 2yrs old, BUT my father was a bad drunk!! NOW he has had sobriety for about 14yrs now!!! The really sad part is now I'm 25yrs old, my father has talked about how much he still loves my mother and visa versa!!! SOOOO, I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you really still love him AND he isn't physically harming you OR your daughter, try to help him out!! Get to the source of the drinking!! My father finanlly went into a rehab program at a local hospital!!! He STILL goes to AA, not only for himself BUT to support others having this problem!!! Believe me, this WILL be hard, BUT divorce is truly hard when both parties are still so much in love!!! AND your daughter will adjust if you guys had to divorce, BUT is sure is hard!!
Good Luck, hopefully with you guys being apart, he sees how SERIOUS you are about the drinking problem!!




answers from Shreveport on

Hi A., I know it's not the same, but I have a brother who is an alcoholic. Personally, I removed myself from that situation and no longer have much contact with him, but I do see what it does to my mom and dad and his son. You really can't help them unless they are willing to help themselves. I suppose they are scared to get the help they need because they have had alcohol for so long, when they think of being without it, they don't know what to do and it's scary to them. All I can really say is, follow what your heart tells you. If he is willing to get help, then offer your full support. Let it be known to him that the drinking is the major problem between you two and until he is willing to seek the help, then you cannot be a part of his life. Stick to your beliefs on that. Maybe he just needs the encouragment to be able to seek the help he needs. And if you didn't like Al-anon, try seeking out other groups that may be out there. The support is invaluable! Good luck to you and yours.



answers from Houston on

You've got some pretty tough words of advice...especially from Wolfgang. I truly believe all of it though. My mom had to go through life dealing with the wrong kind of men...drug addicted man (my father), pot smoking man with no sense of responsibility (my step-father) and various alcoholics along the way. I know my life would've been A LOT better had she avoided those kind of men. Well, maybe not my father...I wouldn't be here if she did that, but anyway, the point is this: Your decisions directly affect your daughter as well as you. A coworker of mine sent her hubby packing when he decided the bottles and the bars were more important than the family. They have a cordial relationship for the sake of the kids, but that's it. You can do it. You just have to figure out what you want and deserve in life. Best to you.



answers from Houston on

Sorry to hear about your experience with your husband's disease. Right now the most important thing is for your husband to seek help if he wishes to salvage his relationship with you and keep one going with his daughter. I don't have an alcoholic husband. However, my older sister went through the same thing. In the end, she had to let him go because he refused to take responsibility for his disease and seek real help. I guess he was in denial for a long time and probably still is. Anyway, seeing my sister go through this was not an easy thing. She really loved this guy. But his alcoholism took over the relationship. Therefore, my suggestion is to ask him to seek help and see where that goes. If he wants the relationship, he will do whatever it takes to try to get better. Do a lot of praying. Go to church together and ask the Lord to give him the power to change his drinking. You obviously love that man. Stay by his side and try to help him. When you see that he is not trying anything to help change his situation, then you ask God for the strength to move on. Hopefully, he will see the daylight then if he did not before. God bless



answers from Shreveport on

Sorry you are having to go through this. I went through it with my son's father. I spent many nights crying and wondering why he treated me so bad when he was drunk. He would stop drinking and then he'd start back. Finally, I had enough. I couldn't take it emotionally anymore. The only advice I can give you is to try and get him to join a program to sober up. If he really loves you and wants to fix your realtionship, he'll do that for you. If he isn't willing to let the bottle go then you might have to be tough and let him go. No matter what you just do what is best for you and your daughter. Eventually, it will affect her even if he isn't actin out towards her. She will see you hurting and start to show it through her actions. Hope this helped you some and I hope you can get some peace at mind soon. I will be praying for you.



answers from Wichita on

OH GIRLFRIEND...i'm sorry to hear about what you're going through with your husband. you're right, alcoholism is a disease that affects the mind, body, and spirit. being a recovering alcoholic myself, i do understand both sides of the situation, both yours and his...but i hate to tell you this but i wouldn't be helping you if i wasn't honest with you...until he is ready to get sober then there isn't anything you or anyone else can do about it.that's how powerful this disease is sweetheart. it doesn't mean that he doesn't love you, because alcoholics still are capable of love, but right now he's sick. and until he reaches a bottom sufficient enough to say enough is enough, then he's going to have to go through some things. for me, i had to get arrested (numerous times),disaaociate myself from my family and friends that loved me, and go through 2 treatment facilities before i finally sobered up...but that's what it took for me...everybody bottom can be takes what it take.i'm not a marriage counselor, so it's not my place to tell you to leave him, but maybe separating yourself from this situation for awhile will probably help him reach a bottom and help you work on yourself...if it doesn't work then don't feel discouraged because it's not your's the disease of alcoholism. for him to get sober he will definitely have to have some help from others who are beating this disease on a daily basis...and you should try al-anon 1 more time..give it a shot, get an al-anon sponsor and begin the journey of working on A.....thank you for reading this message.. if you want to email me anytime i'm here..if you want to chat, i'm here day or night...i'm a stay at home mother right now and would love to communicate with you...maybe share with you my battle with this disease and maybe give you a little bit of courage and to you soon



answers from Little Rock on

i don't know much about alcoholism but if you could get him to try going to the celebrate recovery meetings, I hear it is the absolute best. I can't think of the name of the church that does them but it is the big brick one right off the freeway, just before you get in Jacksonville, coming from Cabot. i hope this helps some.



answers from El Paso on

I don't know if you and your husband are able to afford it but going to an actual treatment center usually has better results. If he can't do that definatly go to counseling. My husbands parents divorced over drugs and alcohol and it was so hard on him and his sisters. They missed their dad and his little sister actually acted out with drugs and alcohol against thier mom. Of course counseling will only help if he is willing to make the effort. If his isn't then divorcing may be your only option. I really hope things work out for you and that you can be happy with your decision whatever it is. Maybe going to counseling by yourself will help you make your decision. Best of luck!



answers from Phoenix on

It is really hard to give up someone when you really love .I feel so bad since we are on the same situation,My husband he is an alcoholic but he don't admit it! he drink alot of times 3-4 days straight



answers from New Orleans on

From C. A.

I know where your comming from. I have 3 kids and I have
been married for 8 years. We have been together for 12 years.
My husband usually only drinks on weekends and says it's a
man thing, whatever that means. When every he opens a beer
bottle it makes my skin crawl. He is not a violent drunk. Is
your husband? My advice is that if you feel as strongly as
you do than if you are already seperated than more than likely
you have a whole nother issue because he is probably feeling
like he is free to drink as much as he wants and with drinking
comes infedelity, and there usually goes the trust issue even
if you aren't together right now. The best thing I can say to
you is that time heals the hurt of leaving someone and I'm
sure you will find someone to love you and your daughter like
you know in your heart of hearts a marriage should be.

Best of luck
C. A.



answers from Baton Rouge on

Its so funny that you posted this because i am going through the same thing except i have been doing this with my husband for 5 years now. We seperated a couple time but the last time he did change but after i gave birth to our third child he has started back up full force. i am losing my mind cause i don't want to be without him yet i fall alil more out of love everyday he drinks and chooses that bottle over me and our children i am trying to get out of my marriage but its very very tough. i wish you all the luck in the world :)



answers from Lafayette on

I have been excatly where you are. i understand your delima totally. my ex-husband had a serious drinking problem but kept reassuring me after we married he would mature and stop all the drinking. i believed him because i loved him. unfortunately he didn't hold up to his part of the deal. so i scheduled marriage counseling for us. at our second session the counselor suggested he go to AA, we walked out of our session and he told me he wasn't going back because he didn't have a drinking problem. she also suggested i read the book the Powers of the Praying Wife, which I did and adopted in my everyday life, unfortunately he wasn't ready for the change. we had a daughter, during my pregnancy he again reassured me he would give up drinking and be a good father, he didn't have his dad around when he was growing up. so he knew how important it is to have a father and what it feels like to grow up without one. but unfortunately he again didn't stop. when our daughter turned 2, i asked him to leave because he was drinking and started yelling and throwing things while she sat in her high chair watching him. and i knew i didn't want that life for her. so what was i to do? i tried counseling, praying, all i could do. i thought a separation might show him, but it didn't. now 3 years later, he has become addicted to pills and still drinks heavily. i recently won sole custody of our daughter after he attempted an overdose twice on pills and alcohol and ended up in ICU. every situation is different. your husband doesn't drink everyday, mine did. have you tried marriage counseling? what about his family? can they help you in getting him some help. thankfully my ex-in-laws are on my side, they tried to help him many times, and finally they had to say well there is nothing more they could do. they actually helped me get sole custody of the child. maybe get him more involved in family activities with the child let him see what he would be missing out on if you file for divorce. tell him how you feel most importantly. and how important family is to you. i hope this helps. good luck.



answers from Houston on

Whatever you do, DONT' GIVE UP ON HIM!!! You need the book, The Power of a Praying Wife. Read it from cover to cover and it will give you plenty of insight. The Lord has a mysterious way of getting our attention, rather it is through our spouses, children, relatives and friends, however we must know that it is him calling us to a deeper relationship with him.

I will pray for you:


Now walk in the victory!!!

Co-Pastor T. S W B.



answers from San Antonio on

You have to decide for yourself, but I am a firm believer that the only person who can help your husband-is your husband! Until he is ready to see he has a problem and fix it, YOU cannot be there for him. He needs to take responsibility for his recovery and until it is completed (a very long road), you should only be in the picture as the mother of his daughter. You and your daughter will be happier in the long run, whether it be because you met someone sober or if your husband recovers...Good Luck with your decision.



answers from Fort Smith on

Hi A.,
I can feel for your situation. I too have some of the same problems. My husband of 19 years also has a drinking problem. Only he drinks around our 2 daughters. Im working 2 jobs and depend on him to be responsible with our girls, but thats not always the case. My girls are old enough to tend to themselves, but thats not the point, he needs to be there for them. There are other problems that arise from the drinking. I dont know what the answers are, or how to fix the problem. They have to admit there is a problem and they have to be the ones that want to fix it, otherwise it doesnt do us a bit of good to try to fix things. Its not easy after being with someone for so long. The ultimatums dont work either, tried it already. I wish I had some answers for you. I wish you luck in what every you decide to do. Keep faith, pray. Keep us posted on you your doing.
J. R.



answers from Pine Bluff on

I am dealing with a similar situation. My husband and I have always drank but not to excess. A few years ago he started having panic attacks and depression, and I noticed that he was having several drinks pretty much every day. He also gained a lot of weight because of the depression meds and the overeating/drinking that he was doing. He decided to have gastric bypass surgery and is almost a year post-op. The problem is that he started back drinking three weeks (yes, I said 3 WEEKS) after this major surgery and continues the same cycle of having several drinks daily.

The only problem with it now is that because his stomach is much smaller and empties into his small intestine, the alcohol is absorbed much more rapidly. It also messes with his blood sugar and he either feels sick or falls asleep....usually falls asleep....neither of which is a great thing to happen anyway because of what it's doing to his body!

We have a 3yo DD and I don't want her to think that this kind of thing is normal and that anyone should live like this. I also don't want to wake up 30 years from now and wonder what in the h*** I was thinking and why I didn't do anything, and why I am still in this situation. HE is going to have to come to the realization that he needs to change his direction to keep the family that he wants. That's not to say I don't love him because I do very much. But I also love him enough to not put up with it.

Being in the middle of this like you are, I don't know exactly what my next step is going to be. But I do know that I don't like being the primary caretaker to a 3yo AND a grown man, and I want him to step up to the plate and be the husband and father that I know he can be.

Feel free to give me a holler if you ever need to talk or vent! :)

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