My Husband Is an Alcoholic

Updated on December 02, 2013
G.T. asks from Canton, MA
28 answers

So therefore I am planning to get a divorce.

I don't know what happened. My husband has always liked to party - but when there was a party to go to! Not for just any old reason. Lately things have gotten progressively worse. I get that is the path of the disease.

I have 2 kids, ages 6 and 3. I refuse to allow them to see their dad drunk, nor is he is any condition to take care of them like that. Typically he would go out with friends, and come home after they were in bed, but lately he's come home drunk and wants to see the kids.
I also refuse to allow them to see him hungover.
I do NOT want my kids to grow up thinking this is acceptable behavior.
Of course, he thinks I'm crazy and blowing everything out of proportion. He is downright mean and belligerent about it all. But whatever - that doesn't matter. He can think I'm wrong all he wants. What I care about it is the welfare of my kids.

I feel very stuck - either my kids grow up without a father figure, are a product of divorce, or they grow up with one who is a drunk. I've read the statistics on both, and it's not a good outcome.
HOW can I help my kids to beat the odds?

I live in Mass and my family lives in NC. I do not have anyone here who can help me. His mom is on my side and wants to get involved and wants to get his brother involved as well, but I'm afraid it will make things worse.
I am thinking of moving to NC, but I do not want to up root my kids from school, dance, gymnastics, etc. I plan on moving in the summer time so they can start fresh in Sept. This is all assuming he pays child support. If not, I'd have to move ASAP. I do not make enough money to stay without help.

Any advice without judgement and criticism would be most appreciated. I'm lost.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Baton Rouge on

It is better for the kids to be in a home with one sober, responsible parent taking care of them than one sober responsible parent trying to do damage control on the effects of an alcoholic parent.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think you should get a divorce. It'll be better for the kids and for you.
A close friend of mine grew up with an alcoholic father. At first, her dad was goofy and funny while drunk, but after 6 months or so, he started to hit my friend's mother and sometimes her too. That's when her mother decided to get a divorce. She went back to her parent's home and took my friend and her 2 brothers with her. She (my friend) thinks that's the best and bravest decission her mother has ever made.
Lots of love xx

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Portland on

A divorce will not protect the children from being the children of an alcoholic father. He, at the least, will have parenting time with them and you won't be present. Courts recognize the importance of children being involved with both parents. He is their father and an important part of who they are.

I also suggest that it's not helpful to not allow him to be with the children when he's been drinking. You are giving them a fantasy life. Children need to learn how to deal with all situations in life. I say this because you did not say he is abusive when drunk.

It would help to know why you think he's an alcoholic. How much of what beverage, how often, and how does he act? Is his drinking interfering in any other parts of his life? Do you drink at all? If not do you feel drinking is wrong? Could each of you be partially right?

His relationship with you is very important and his drinking does interfere with that. This is an indication he has a problem but not necessarily that he's an alcoholic. And the problem could be resolved through counseling. He could be using drink to escape from the relationship. If you can repair the relationship the drinking may not be a problem. If the two of you aren't able to repair the relationship he could become an alcoholic if he's not one now.

What I'm suggesting is that your situation is not as simple as you've described it. A divorce will not resolve the issue. He will always be their father and they will always have parenting time with him. Unless you've gone to counseling and worked through issues you will only be changing the surface. The issue of his drinking and your disapproval will still be there.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Giving an alcoholic an ultimatum? Booze or family? Doesn't always work.

What is your idea of an alcoholic?
Can he go a day without drinking an alcoholic beverage?
How much does he consume in alcohol in one day? (my exboyfriend (my 1st love), he can consume a 5th of Whiskey EVERY's sad).

He CAN get clean and sober. He HAS TO WANT TO. You cannot force him to get clean and sober.

You need to attend Al-Anon meetings. Ask him to go to AA meetings.

Have him go to the doctor for a full physical...he needs to know how the alcohol is affecting his body...his liver and kidneys will be the worst for wear...

If his mom is up for it? I would move out with the kids to her home. Set the ground rules for my husband to visit - that means hiring a lawyer and setting up custody and visitation arrangements so he cannot say you alienated him or abandoned him...that would be bad...bad...bad... so get EVERYTHING in writing...get a lawyer and ensure that you are protected. You do NOT want him to claim kidnapping, abandonment nor alienation...

Good luck!

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

No one should be married to an alcoholic who refuses help but I am not sure drinking more than your wife prefers is the definition of an alcoholic.

You seem to think you hold all the cards and I just don't see it that way. Has he said he will give you full custody? He will get half if he wants it even if you think he drinks too much. Divorce is a shocking thing, don't go in thinking everything will go as you plan. Consider how you will feel if you have to hand your kids over to him 50% of the time.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

OR, option 3... Give him an ultimatum that he gets help first.

I come from a family with several alcoholics. They get mean and belligerent when confronted because they are in denial. It's easier to get mad at and blame others for overreacting, than it is to admit they have a problem.

I would separate and move in with his mom temporarily, rather than committing to a long distance move (or, if you are able to, either make him move out or take the kids to an extended stay). Tell him that he HAS to seek help before you will consider getting back together. Give him information about the local AA, counseling, hotlines, anything you can find in your area that could help him. once he realizes what he stands to lose, he may or may not seek help. That will be up to him.

If he seeks help, great! Support him, and realize that it will be a daily struggle for the the rest of his life. Having the support of his family will make that struggle easier.

If he doesn't, at least you can rest assured that you did what you could and can move on with your life wherever that may be. The children come first, and you should not have to live with a man who can not put their welfare above his need to drink... The divorce will be hard on your children; just make sure that you let them know that it is NOT their fault, and try very VERY hard not to badmouth/be negative about their father. Ultimately, growing up with no father is better than growing up with an addict. (Been there, done both. We were happier when my dad was raising us on his own while my mom was an addict. We missed her, but still lived with the delusion that we were loved by her. When she got visitation, it was very hurtful to watch her pick her habit over us time and time again. We understood that she loved us as much as she could, but her habit came first)

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Truth is you can't move anywhere, if you do he can file charges against you for interference with parental rights. He has full rights to his kids, just as much right as you do.

Unless a doc has diagnosed him as an alcoholic he's not one as far as court and divorce goes. So you need to address that issue now. Just because you say he goes out with his friends and comes home after drinking "a few" does not mean he's an alcoholic. He has to decide he's an alcoholic and start a program. Otherwise he's just hanging out with his friends kicking back and drinking a bit. I bet he thinks he's perfectly normal and you're the one with the problem...right? That's how he's going to present this whole thing to the judge. It will be your word against his.

How many DUI's does he have? How many times per week does he call a cab because he was too drunk to drive? How many times per week does he come home drunk? How drunk is he when he comes home? Stumbling? Walking fine? Can he do fine motor skill activities? Can he write with a pen? How do you know he's drunk beyond just a casual drink? How many blackouts is he having per month? What does he do for a drink when he's at work? Is he drinking there too? Does he work on the computer stuff and have an alcoholic drink next to him all the time?

These are questions the judge may ask you. If you can't tell him, if he asks, what YOU think makes your husband an alcoholic then you can't use that disease as an excuse to get a divorce and keep his kids from him.

What you can do is say he misses work after going out with his friends, he wakes up with a major head ache and reeks of an alcohol smell, he spends money on alcohol instead of paying the bills and here's the receipts Your Honor, these kinds of things are proven things. Not "I think he's an alcoholic because he drinks". Using statements that can be proven with documentation will allow you to get more custody and child support.

More and more judges are giving the kids to dad if he can prove there are any issues with mom at all. Him saying he goes out with his friends and drinks a couple of beers a couple of times per week because you're crazy is a good way for him to get the judge to devalue anything you have to say that does NOT have documentation.

My friend lost her kids in her divorce and ended up with supervised visits for 6 months because he took pictures of the house when it wasn't clean. It wasn't horrible either, just messy from the kids coming in from school and tossing their stuff everywhere then playing with toys. He used them in court and it proved her incompetence at parenting because she let them do that....judges are changing and not in a good way.

So, get your documentation, what makes him an alcoholic. How is his drinking effecting the kids in a negative way. How is it hurting you such as about to lose the house because he's spending all the household money on alcohol and you've brought receipts to prove this.

Get a plan for yourself, you have to have a full time job that will show YOU can support the kids fully without child support. If you appear to "need" child support to make ends meet then the dad has a good case for you not being able to support the kids and he can, so he gets full custody and you get to pay child support and spousal support. With him working from home as an independent self employed person he can simply say he hasn't had any work so he can't pay support payments, he can say "Hey, I am a work at home dad so I can take the kids while she works so give me full custody" too.. These are issues you need to think about and come up with a good plan.

Divorces can get nasty and the judges will flat out give the kids to the parent who says the least bad stuff about the other one just to get that family out of his court.

The judge will not give you full custody, make him pay high child support, and you get spousal support. The judge will give him full custody if you can't prove your income is enough to take care of the kids and the extra help of child support is an added bonus.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Get a lawyer and a support group (Al-Anon).

A lawyer may be able to help you understand your options. Divorce laws differ from state to state, but it is my understanding that most states now routinely award joint custody.

While it may be perfectly clear to you that your husband is not a fit parent when he is drunk, proving this will be difficult. Unless he has a criminal record or a record of being arrested for alcohol related offenses it will be your word against are facing an uphill battle.

Even in cases where or one parent is awarded sole custody while the other gets visitation you will be barred from moving your children out of state (sometimes even out of the county). This does not depend on whether he willingly pays child support... even if he does not, you cannot interfere with any court ordered visitation he may get.

So before you make preparations to move you must get legal advice and file all of the proper documents with the court.
I suggest that you get your financial ducks in a row, find a job if you are not already working, secure your assets and make some friends that are willing to help you where you are now as there is no guarantee (and I would argue a pretty low likelihood) that you will legally be able to move your kids to NC unless your husband agrees to this.
Good luck.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I am only a few steps ahead of you. About two weeks ago during a marriage counseling session, my husband admitted that he was an alcoholic. But then right after the session, he started raging against me and pretty much went ballistic for a few days. A little over a week ago, I had to call 911 to have the police escort me and the kids out because he was drunk and belligerent in the morning. This is a man who was very caring and loving to me during most of our 10 year marriage.

I filed for divorce the same day that the police came to my house. I do now realize that my husband is quite controlling and abusive to me. The addiction to alcohol adds another level of fun to all of that.

The best thing I ever did was talk to an attorney. In fact, I should have done that a long time ago. I am a SAHM and my kids are 8, 5, and 2. My attorney believes that I should be able to continue being a SAHM for another few years after the divorce. I'll probably be able to keep the house too.

I have no family in the area. What I do have is a fairly strong network of mommy-group friends. They have really helped me through this and continue to offer their support.

My husband has lots of family in the area. They are dysfunctional and are in denial of my husband's problems. I have to warn you that even though your husband's mom wants to help, she is still the mother of your husband and could potentially throw you under the bus.

I went to my first Al-Anon meeting last week. I will continue to go. So far my impression of the meeting was that it is a lot like reading mamapedia stories. You get to hear other people's experiences and ask yourself if you should be doing things differently than those who are sharing their stories.

Seriously. Talk to an attorney. That is your first step. Good luck to you!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

In the purest form--you're enabling him. You're shielding him from embarrassing himself to his kids.
Please, please go to some Alanon meetings.
It will help you make clear choices.
You CAN give him an ultimatum. Just be prepared to leave IF he refuses to voluntarily get help. No bluffing.

AA meetings alone are not going to help him.
His insurance most likely will cover the cost of detox and rehab.
People can die detoxing from alcohol. It's physically addictive therefore quite dangerous to attempt on his own.

Your husband is sick. He has a disease. O. he'll have forever.
IF he seeks help, are you willing to stay?

Again--Alanon please!
Good luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Well stated Marda P.

G.. You are doing your children no favors by enabling them to live in this fantasy world.

They know about their dad, him being drunk and hungover. They also know you are covering it up ( in your eyes) for them.

Get real help from legal and emotional counsel. A divorce will simply change the picture, not the reality.

Best wishes to you.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Ala-non would be your best bet. So would a divorce lawyer. You need real legal advice. The lawyer will tell you exactly what to do and you should do it. EVEN if it means calling the authorities when he's drunk around your children.

You do need to get all your ducks in a row since you don't make enough money without him. I hope you have some family you can go to on a temporary basis.

Please go to a lawyer. It's so important to know your rights before you tell him that you want a divorce.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Videotape him drunk. Let him see what he is like. Seriously, he needs to know. There is no timeline on this decision. And not letting the children see this is another form of denial. I am sure they see and know when Daddy is acting funny. If they see something and are told they didn't see it, or are hidden they grow up doubting themselves and what their own beliefs. That is perpetuating the problem. You want them to feel secure. And you want them to know if you get to that point why. I cannot harp on this enough either. Cross your Ps and Q's and get educated and start saving ten dollars a week to feel empowered. If you don't have to leave this second then get everything worked out first.
And get yourself to AlAnon (for family members). You will be supported emotionally through all of this.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm so sorry you're going through this but I am proud of you for recognizing the need to get out of the situation. If it's gotten worse in recent months, who knows how much worse it will get from here.

Do not plan any sort of move without thoroughly discussing it with a lawyer. You have to make absolutely sure that you would be able to get a custody agreement that allows you to leave the state.

I think his mom and brother should get involved. It's not doing him any good to have them keep quiet and he might listen to them more than he listens to you.

Go to Al-Anon meetings because you need support to get through this and tips on how to manage it.

You can help your kids beat the odds by finding other men to act as strong role models in their lives. An uncle, a family friend, a grandfather, or someone from the Big Brothers program would be a good place to start. If they have someone they feel they can go to for "dad stuff," they won't feel as lost from not having their actual father. They need someone to take them on father-daughter/son outings at school, through scouts, etc. Help provide a good role model and you will help them succeed.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

good for you.
now, don't assume that just because he's an alcoholic he'll be an awful father. you've taken the hardest step- protecting your kids by getting out. now can you set things up so that if he's drunk, he doesn't get to take them? (that's always the flip side about leaving, isn't it?) alcoholics aren't necessary awful parents. many of them are functional, and just fine when they're not drunk.
it's also very possible that you will not legally be able to take the kids out of state without their father's permission.
so you need to find a place where you can work with him.
i assume you're going to al-anon?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Start going to Al-Anon meetings.
Talk to a womens shelter.
Divorcing from an abusive/addicted person is better for the kids than staying in the marriage just so they are not 'products of a divorced home'.
An addicted parent can mess them up way more than being without that one parent.
At 3 and 6 moving now will be an upheaval but the divorce will do that a degree anyway and the younger they are when you do it the faster they will get over it - so don't let that stop you.
Staying till they are out of school is 6-7 months and that's a long time.
Get legal advice about whether you can move out of state with the kids.
Work with the womens shelter, do your research gear up to move at Easter or when ever a good situation becomes available - don't wait half a year to get it done.
You can do this and you will make a better life for them and yourself.
Whether your husband gets help for his addiction or not depends on him but he's got to figure that out on his own.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

G. have you done marriage counseling with him yet? Have you asked him to go to AA or have you gone to Al-Anon? You'll need some evidence to get custody of your kids to move out of state. I'd see if you can get him to realize that there is a problem and that he needs help first. You can't just up and file for divorce and expect him to go along with it or for a judge to award you custody and allow you to move next summer. In Massachusetts, divorce with children takes forever. It's not uncommon for a couple to separate and then not finalize the divorce for a year or two here. The link below gives you an overview of the process:

I'm not encouraging you to stay in a bad marriage but want to give a realistic view that your options may not be what you think they are, especially if he fights you on this. So while it may make sense to plan on a divorce, I would also do whatever you can to get him to get help for his drinking problem. Best case scenario would be that he gets help and gets well. Worst case scenario is that at least you have documentation that this is a problem that he's not willing to address.

I'm sorry that you're going through this. Best of luck to you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

Please get legal counsel a.s.a.p. Allow family to help. And start attending Alanon to make sure you have professional support and know your rights. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I am so sorry you are going through this.

I'd like to make a few key points:

First of all, this is not "behavior" on his part. This is a disease. That does not mean that you change your plans about a divorce, but it means your husband must do more than just "see" his behavior or "stop" it. He has to seek treatment.

Second, you are not without resources. It's really great that his mother and his brother are on your side. That means they see his disease for what it is: chronic, resistant to treatment, and wide-reaching in its effects. I'm not sure why you think his brother's involvement will make things worse - is it because the brother is difficult, or because you fear your husband's anger? There are also free resources for families of alcoholics - Al Anon is just one, and it's national. You can take advantage of support no matter where you live.

I am glad you are not letting your husband see the kids if he is drunk or severely hung over. I AM concerned that he goes out with his friends and - what? - drives himself home?

Third, I'm not sure why you feel your kids will be terribly handicapped if they grow up in a divorced family. Yes, there are issues with kids who are raised without role models, but there are literally millions of success stories. Moreover, you will provide your children with male and female role models, either with your family in NC or his family in MA. I'm not sure why you are isolated - but sometimes that happens in families with alcoholism. Support services will help you realize how this disease has affected you and your kids already. And they can help you to make plans to move, to prepare the kids, to protect your finances, etc.

I think you can move kids at a young age fairly smoothly. If it's safe to wait until the summer, fine. But many will say your kids will also acclimate smoothly to a new town and school (for the older one) if you move when classes are in session and your kids can move right into new activities. If the older one was 10 or 14, I'd say it would be much harder to move in the middle of the school year, but younger kids are much more flexible.

In the short run, consider what to do if your husband continues to drive. He not only risks his own life, he risks the lives of others on the road. You can consider contacting the police, and if he's caught driving drunk, they will take his license. That may well have an effect on his job and your overall income, but it could also be the wake-up call he needs. The police will not tell him that you are the one who called, by the way. You may need to drive him to work if he can't get someone else to do that, but do not drive him anywhere else such as out with his friends.

Good luck to you. You are being strong for yourself and your kids, and that counts for a lot.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

In my opinion you are not doing your children any favors by not letting them see his bad behavior. My experience is alcoholics lie..... he will get visitation and he will tell them what good guy he is and mommy is an uptight B!#ch. He will undermine you every way he can. If the kids see him drunk and out of control no matter what he says they will know the truth.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Good luck... sounds like you are making a wise decision.

Have you checked into going to any Al-Anon meetings? They are for the partners of alcoholics.....

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

One word (or is it two?): Al-Anon.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

You can help them beat the odds by making good choices for them and you. Are they being affected by his alcoholism? Do you feel like they would be more miserable sticking with the marriage? Or would they feel a sense relief?
Ask yourself these questions, and then do what you have to do. People think that children from divorced parents grow up with all kinds of issues. That's not necessarily the case. I was relieved when my mother divorced my father. No more fighting and she was SO much happier, and in turn, so was I. My father wasn't a horrible father (then), but even when I was 6, I remember feeling so much more free and less anxiety when they weren't together. I could actually be a normal kid without the giant elephant in the room.
Hope this helps.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

try to document everything as much as possible, and go see a lawyer. it's great that his mom and brother may be able to interfere but your first priority is you and the kids. moving kids mid-year is not the worse. in fact, it's pretty doable especially if you have family there. kids get acclimated better than adults do.
i understand referring to alcoholism as a disease. i don't agree with that. it's an addiction. he may or may not be an alcoholic but if he is drinking and acting stupid, that's not good.
kids of divorce parents do well if they end up with the responsible parent.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I was raised with an alcoholic parent. My parents divorced YEARS after my father stopped drinking. I can honestly say that the divorce was harder than the drinking. This is just my experience. My Dad stopped drinking months after my mom brought it to his attention. I can see how the alcoholism could be a lot worse than the divorce for some, but fortunately, my Dad was willing to stop drinking.

The MOST important thing is that you make a decision about what you are going to do BEFORE you tell your kids. My mom bounced us back and forth about the divorce. From 14 years old until I turned 23, I was unsure of what would happen with my parents. My mom was very open with me (too open) and it definitely did more harm than good. All I'm saying is, be careful to keep your thoughts to yourself until you know what you will do.

Talk with a professional. Get into therapy. Talk to a lawyer. Be prepared. It'll be what's best for your kids and what's best for you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Start at Al-Anon. Others who are going through the same thing can help you figure things out and put things in perspective. They might also have some insight into where you can go for financial assistance or how you can make things work out financially if you don't get the child support that you need right away.

Do not just stay - to do so is to do a disservice to everyone - you, your kids, and your husband. Ask your MIL and BIL to go to Al-Anon meetings with you so that they also can learn how to deal with this issue and give you the back-up and support you will need.

I am very sorry this is happening to you, but glad that you are recognizing it now and are ready to take some action.

Good luck, mama, and remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Well that stinks! I am sorry you are going through this. Being that he thinks you are crazy, it doesn't sound as though he is ready for help.

Honestly, if he doesn't stop, your kids will be a product of both, an alcoholic father and divorce because eventually you will divorce him.

In retrospect, I would just take the divorce. Alcoholics nearly need the tough love in order to ever begin their process of getting better.

He can help if he can keep his job. You may find that you were the key source of him keeping it together and after you leave, he will lose his ability to stay afloat.

Unless you have someone to help you, you will need to start looking for a job now, in Mass or NC.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

First of all, this is not the natural progression of the disease. Alcoholics don't just go from the occasional slip to slipping and sliding all day every day, without some trigger. Also, is he a true alcoholic or just a drunk? There's a difference. I would be trying to figure out what's making the difference in his life and help him address that.

None of it is pleasant, but you can start by finding a support group for family and friends of people who drink excessively. I think that Al-Anon is what it's called, a partner to AA, which is for the excessive drinkers themselves.

I think that your involvement with this or another group--also with some one-on-one therapy--can help you figure out how to address what is happening with your husband and what it will mean for your marriage and for your children.

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions