General Question

tan253's avatar

Am I in the wrong here?

Asked by tan253 (665 points ) December 20th, 2012 from iPhone

Ok so this is a personal question.
I feel that I can’t discuss this with family as I don’t want them to judge harshly.

My partner is a drinker – he’s in the music industry so he’s out all the time and always in bars.
He’s not a musician.
We have a beautiful daughter, 9 months and I am a full time mum.
My partner is amazing – he’s a great dad and loving partner but I hate his drinking.
We are very different and just hanging on at the moment.

He can’t just have one drink he drinks a lot and normally comes home drunk and falls asleep (3am)
This morning we had discussion about it, he said, ‘how does my drinking affect you – how has it affected us this morning?’ – well the truth is is that it doesn’t. Sure he smells like a bar and I hate that our daughter can smell it but he’s functioning – he’s up a 7am helping with breakfast etc etc so am I out of line to ask him to stop?
I don’t like him drunk, but everyone loves that he is the guy for a good night out.
My argument is that we are parents now and I feel we owe our daughter good role models of which for the most part he is – he just likes to drink – at home he will drink a bottle of wine himself – and drinks every night.
I don’t know if I’m out of line here or I should just accept it?

I hate it – I think it’s substance abuse and believe he should be taking better care of his body but I don’t drink at all.

It’s ruining our marriage so need advice!

Thanks x

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40 Answers

trailsillustrated's avatar

You are right. Maybe you can get him to cut down?

tan253's avatar

I have tried that – he can’t just have one glass with dinner – he just keeps drinking.

janbb's avatar

He is an alcoholic. I think you should try to get him to go to marriage therapy with you and see if you can resolve your problems. Good luck!

tan253's avatar

We did marriage counseling – his idea – I’m starting to feel that it’s just me? I just feel at a loss with it all!

marinelife's avatar

He is an alcoholic. He will lie, cheat, steal and do anything to drink. He is on a downward spiral. he will not quit or get better.

You need to take your daughter and leave right away for her sake and for yours.

Consider going to Al-anon to get the support that you need,

burntbonez's avatar

It sounds like he has a problem. Unless he decides he has a problem, he won’t and can’t do anything. How can you get him to recognize he has a problem? You may have to leave him.

Coloma's avatar

You cannot control his drinking and falling into that pattern makes you a codependent. Either you accept him as he is or you give him an ultimatum and stick to it.
” Get help for your drinking or the baby and I are leaving you.”
Yes, he is an alcoholic if he cannot stop after a couple of drinks.

There is a saying in AA,” What kills you first, the engine or the caboose?”
It’s not the last drink, it’s the first that sets that freight train in motion.
Do NOT keep trying to talk to him, do NOT make a bunch of noisy idle threats.
If there is any hope at all, you are going to have to let him deal with the consequences of losing his family.

He is married to the booze first of all and unless he can see that, there is no hope.
Don’t be one of those women that stay with someone for 20 years “hoping” you will somehow get him to change.

CWOTUS's avatar

He is a (for now) high-functioning alcoholic.

He can rationalize all he wants about how “he needs to socialize for business” and “it gives him the edge he needs” or even “it takes the edge off” (rationalization works in all ways; it’s the universal tool). But the truth is that if he “needs” alcohol to function “properly”, or “to take the pain away” or for any other reason that he can rationalize, then he is an alcoholic.

The fact that he hasn’t crashed and burned, killed anyone in an accident, lost his job or his family is immaterial to the basic fact that he is an alcoholic. And unfortunately, as long as you buy into and make excuses and exceptions for his behavior, then you’re abetting him – you are “an enabler”, since you keep the home functioning, take care of your shared child, make excuses to the child, the family, whoever needs an excuse, and enable him to keep functioning in the way he is.

I’m not saying that to shame you or to judge you. But that’s another fact of this malaise; he has sucked you into covering for him.

Check out Al-Anon, which is an organization for the families of alcoholics. You can’t change him, but you can help yourself and your daughter by refusing to enable his drinking, make him face his own facts and come to his own realization of his own ruin faster (and hopefully without tragedy or too much other added grief and pain) – and get the help he needs. (At Al-Anon you’ll meet people who are in exactly the same place you are, and people who have gotten through that place to a better place and will help you get there, too.)

Good luck to all of you.

Shippy's avatar

I got sober through AA. It’s a great program for life. Not just for getting sober. I have been sober 25 years now.

tan253's avatar

Congrats @shippy!!

JLeslie's avatar

So, are you saying it was ok when you weren’t parents? You decided to be with a guy who drinks regulary, thinking that would change all of a sudden was a mistake. Especially when his environment is so surrounded by drinking. He thinks it is normal to drink. Were his parents alcoholics?

For now it sounds like he is handeling it, but very soon he won’t be able to handle it as well probably. Or, God forbid some sort of emergency will happen and he will be so drunk he won’t be able to help appropriately. Things will start to happen where he is not there for the family. It would be great if he has some sort of realization that he has a drinking problem before it gets very bad, but it is likely he won’t.

I hope he isn’t driving home? I seem to remember you live in the city, so I will assume he walks or hails a cab.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I tend to think that you already made the decision for yourself and your child by choosing a father/ husband that you knew was ‘wild’.

If his lifestyle choices are causing problems in his marriage and he doesn’t care, then that is a whole seperate issue.

My besty has two children with an alcoholic that she has loved madly for over 10 years and defended him and his actions to all of us who love her, and I can tell you that she has suffered and so have the children. So be very careful what you sign up for in the long-term. Good luck.

livelaughlove21's avatar

It is definitely substance abuse. If he is unable to just have one drink, he’s an alcoholic. They think it’s not a problem and that they have it under control, but in reality the alcohol holds all the control.

Coming home drunk at 3am? That doesn’t sound like a great father I me. I’m sure he loves his child, but anything that puts you, the baby, or your marriage in jeopardy is not good at all. He can’t keep doing it. What happens when the kid is a teen and thinks this is normal? By then, this will have gotten worse – as alcoholism is a progressive disease.

Yes, disease, and he needs help. It DOES affect you, quite obviously, if you feel it’s ruining your marriage. This is something that can’t be solved with a talk. This will be a long process, but he has to admit that this behavior is a problem and WANT to fix it first. If that means a career change (and it will), then so be it.

My advice is to not agree with him that his drinking doesn’t affect you. He has to see that it does. Tell him you feel that it’s ruining your marriage, that you don’t like him drunk, and that you don’t want your child around that.

Your kid is your first priority. If this affects your child, don’t hesitate to remove her from the situation.

gailcalled's avatar

The language of “right” and “wrong” or “being out of line” or “just accepting it” irrelevant here.

Your clear account of the situation plus your last statement “It’s ruining our marriage” tells you what you need to know.

And unpleasant and difficult as it is, you must make some hard decisions for you and your lovely daughter.

Others here with more experience than I have given you practical advice, hard as it may be to take the first step.

Did the drinking come up in your marriage counseling?

LuckyGuy's avatar

“How has it affected us this morning?” Really? He has to ask?
In case you can’t come up with some answers on the spot here are a few:

You both are not enjoying the afterglow of an evening of love making.
He smells like alcohol.
He spent $X that cold have been use for XYZ (some house expense) .
His liver is rotting.
He lost brain cells.
His behavior made you uncomfortable last night and today.
He most likely drive while intoxicated and you are worrying about the police showing up at the door.
You are concerned about his judgment when he is drinking and fear it might move to something even riskier.
You are discussing his drinking rather than what fun thing we are going to do today with our child

I have a friend who was in the “music industry” 30 years ago. He realized that lifestyle would kill him. Unfortunately he left too late. He now has Hep C with a virus count of 3 million. He is 59. :-(

hearkat's avatar

Your situation reminds me of my own, 20 years ago… I married a man who was a functioning alcoholic. I knew this to be true when we first started dating. I encouraged him to wean down from Heineken to Coors Extra Gold to Coors Light, but he drank from the moment he got home from work until he fell asleep—like a chain smoker, he’d go to the kitchen to toss the empty in recycling then straight to the fridge for the next one.

Four years we dated, and he kept saying he’d try to quit… but there were always excuses. Then I got pregnant – I was 24 and he was 31. He said he’d quit after the honeymoon (late November), then after Christmas, then after New Year’s, then after his birthday, then after the superbowl, then after St. Patrick’s Day, then when the baby was born… and on it went.

When our son was 3, my husband’s bloodwork showed that his liver enzymes were out of whack. The doctor told him to stop drinking for a month and they’d retest. He stopped, and there wasn’t noticeable change. But within a few days after he started again (as soon as the second blood sample was collected), his own best friend (a partier himself) looked him in the eye and said, “You know what? You’re an asshole when you drink.” He laughed that off, but it was true… the change when he resumed drinking was far more noticeable than when he had stopped.

When my son was 4, his daycare provider called to say that he was acting depressed. My normally gregarious, active son was moping away from the other kids and wouldn’t even put up a fuss if one of the other kids started something with him, the way preschoolers do. This was my wakeup call.

I told him to stop drinking or move out, and started sleeping on the couch. It took a couple months for him to realize that I was serious. He moved out insisting that I’d miss him when he was gone. In fact, a weight was lifted off my shoulders—I didn’t have a second child to care for! It was an epiphany that I felt more like his mother than his wife and partner. Several months into it, we tried counseling – but he accused me and the therapists of conspiring against him and stormed out. He would say that he missed us and still wanted to be a family, yet he still refused to quit.

Eventually, I filed for divorce. We had arranged visitations for every weekend. He became so unstable that he lost his job of more than 10 years. He then got caught DUI, and that was enough for him to attempt suicide. He became more volatile and had outbursts in front of our son. I had to go to court to have visitation withdrawn unless he went through rehab. I moved out of our apartment and didn’t tell him where we had gone. I was afraid he’d do something impulsive and damaging to our son. I had to sign paperwork at the school that my son’s name and image could never ne used in publications, and that my ex and no one in his family could have access to my son. I was on edge all the time.

Meanwhile, I was the “bad guy” in my son’s mind, because I wouldn’t let him see Daddy. I told him it was the judge’s decision, and he replied, “Well, that’s a mean judge.” I decided to place the blame where it laid, and told him that the judge told Daddy that he had to stop drinking before he could visit him… “Why won’t Daddy stop drinking to see me?” 5-year-old’s heart broken.

A few weeks after my son started third grade (age seven), my ex-sister-in-law called to tell me that my ex had died. He was 39 and his liver finally gave out. My son happened to be right there when I took the call. Heart broken again. All hope lost.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was better for us to have the finality of his death than for there to always be the lingering fear on my part, and the futile hope of reconciliation on my son’s part. I am confident that I made the right decision in leaving him, because had I tried to make it work, he’d have drug us into his hell with him. Still, it has been a painful journey, and I do wish that I had stopped enabling him sooner. I don’t know that the outcome could have been any different for my ex, as addiction has killed more than half of his family.

I have shared my story with you so you can see where this might be headed. Al-Anon is a good place to start. I also wonder about the couples counseling, because you mention it in passing without any details. At least your husband is willing to go – so please continue or resume. Don’t take his drinking or related behaviors personally – they are his issues and he needs to own them. You need to do what is necessary to protect your daughter and yourself, emotionally and physically.

Feel free to share my experience with your husband. I know that my ex loved our son, but it takes more than emotions to be a good parent. Hopefully it is not too late for your family.

tan253's avatar

The drinking did come up in counseling – he is a gentle person so when I met him I figured it was a phase – silly and yeah it continued but everyone loves him and you could never tell – I guess I am an enabler you are right – I’m going to ask him to stop.

gailcalled's avatar

_ I’m going to ask him to stop._

I hope you have some luck with that, but alcohols do not stop drinking due to others’ volition.

It’s a rotten situation, I know.

Read @hearkat‘s eloquent and concise description of her life with an alcoholic husband and father.

Are you committed to staying in the states? I can’t remember the details but know that you are from somewhere else. Can you return home to family?

zensky's avatar

It sounds like you’re in England.

flutherother's avatar

It is not good for a child to have an alcoholic parent and things will get much worse unless something is done now. The question he must ask himself is whether he wants a family or whether he prefers drink because he cannot have both. Ask him, and let the decision be his.

wundayatta's avatar

I want to talk about something I believe about alcoholics, although it is not something that the folks in AA agree with. I believe that people turn to alcohol as a form of medication—to dull a certain kind of pain (I think AA agrees with that part). However, I think that if you can deal with the thing causing the pain, that it makes it much easier to stop drinking. The folks at AA believe you need to stop drinking first, and then you can deal with the other stuff.

But I’m not an alcoholic, so clearly you should take what I say with a large grain of salt.

He’s in an artistic business, although he’s not an artist, if I understand you right. I bet he is an artist and I bet there is a lot he wants to say, but feels he can’t say it well enough, or that no one really cares. It is that essential loneliness underlying that urge to speak out and be cared for that is so painful and that leads to substance abuse in many people.

Once you’ve started drinking and grown dependent, you need the drink all the time. Maybe it doesn’t matter about the underlying cause any more. But I believe that if you can work on the underlying cause at the same time you work on the ism, you’ll have a greater chance of success. AA programs help a lot of people, but I am not particularly fond of them They are too dogmatic and follow their rules too strictly for some of us. I find other forms of support to be much more helpful. And the support I am looking for is for the underlying problem. Not the addiction that resulted from it.

Maybe he will go to meetings. I think a lot of people start going to meetings before they think they are alcoholics. So encouraging him to do that will make a difference. I would never have gone to my meetings without the encouragement of my wife. And when she thought I was done, I stopped, because there was no way I was going unless it pleased her.

gailcalled's avatar

OP is originally from NZ, according to her brief profile.

tan253's avatar

Yeah you’re right, he is an artist of sorts, he plays music, the bass, but he runs a label and manages bands…. he’s been drinking the same amount ever since we met – the problem is is that everyone in his life apart from me drinks… everyone. So he has his friends saying it’s ok and me saying it’s not and telling someone to not do something is almost asking them to continue doing it.
But you’re right maybe if he can change his focus to something more creative he wont require the desire to drink.
I think there is some romance in there for him… like the old ‘tortured artist’ scenario…
Charles Bukowski type personality… I don’t know I just wish he wouldn’t do it. Thanks though for all your responses they have scared me and helped me.

gailcalled's avatar

I don’t know I just wish he wouldn’t do it. Of course you. I wish that that was enough. It is exhausting for you to consider what really has to be done, I know. (How is the baby, BTW?)

Would you reconsider discussing this issue with your family?

hearkat's avatar

@wundayatta – I agree that many people who abuse alcohol, nicotine and other substances are self-medicating. I also agree that the 12-Step system does not seem to consider the underlying issues that led to the additive behavior, and many that I encounter who have gone through that program are “dry drunks” or otherwise still manifest dysfunctional behaviors. Still, I has a high rate for success in getting people sober; and once they do that, they are in a better position to handle their other problems. The biochemical changes brought about by the substance abuse distort the thinking to a degree that masks the underlying issues, so I don’t feel that one can address them as effectively while the substance abuse is ongoing.

@tan253 – You can not turn this into a control issue or set ultimatums that you aren’t prepared to follow-through with. This is where AlAnon can help. Like other 12-step-based systems, they talk a lot about the “Higher Power” and “God”, which was a turn-off for me… but the basic concepts of detachment and ending the codependent behaviors are beneficial.

janbb's avatar

I get really uncomfortable on questions where people glibly give someone they don’t know advice to leave someone and move on. I think it is very presumptuous. But I do think you are not wrong to need to do something for yourself and your family. Maybe try Al-Anon or individual therapy and see what strategies you come up with.

Silence04's avatar

The fact that you are expressing your dislike of the act of drinking more than his personal wellness makes it clear there are other issues with your relationship that you are externalizing onto him.

Have you both tried indevidual therapy, not only couples therapy? I would pursue that as it will be beneficial to both of you.

Its wrong to externalize your issues onto him, making it seem like his drinking is the main problem when that isn’t truly the case. That will only cause more tension in the relationship. Sounds like the relationship needs more help than his “drinking.”

bolwerk's avatar

I think he’s probably an alcoholic. This by itself isn’t a moral issue, and I don’t think you will be doing yourself any favors treating it as such. If he’s not encouraging your child to become an alcoholic himself, which doesn’t seem like a problem for now, I think this problem is probably off the table in relation to your child for now.

That said, I think you’re probably right about his body. If he doesn’t curb the intake or stop it, not to mention at least sometimes sleep properly, he’s going to cause lasting damage to himself. There are other concerns, if he is a caretaker: will he burn out due to lack of sleep? Is he driving under these conditions?

Comments like @marinelife‘s are probably most illogical and unhelpful in most contexts. By themselves, alcoholics no more automatically cheat, lie, and steal than smokers. However, if he has a physical addiction to alcohol, you may have a real problem on your hands. People with a physical addiction to alcohol have painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and quitting is very difficult.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Lots of people drink now and have through the ages, but not everyone has a problem or let’s it affect the people in their lives, or relationships.

Is she evolving and changing and possibly maturing while he is not? Possibly.

Also, and I’m just throwing this out there because my women friends have been through this, too – maybe she should get a babysitter and go party with him more often.

People tend to get bitter if they’re not included, it causes trust issues, she’s home with the baby all the time- do you get where I’m going with this?

2davidc8's avatar

What a GA, @hearkat! One of the best I’ve ever seen here on Fluther.

tan253's avatar

To be honest I don’t like partying I’m a bit of a nana, I do have the occasional glass of wine and I agree there are more issues than his drinking – however his drinking is a big one – I cut and paste @hearkats message to him – he said he will stop drinking, he knows he drinks far to much but doesn’t see it being problematic as it hasn’t overly affected us in anyway – not true for me but that’s how he sees it – we will see what happens – thank you for your support you’ve made a difficult day much easier

hearkat's avatar

@tan253 – If you’re currently in NYC, there are a myriad of resources. I’m also confident that there are plenty of people in the music industry that have learned these lessons the hard way and could mentor him – whether through an AA program or even personally.

Here’s a site that support sobriety among musicians

CWOTUS's avatar

That response is what Fluther is all about, @hearkat. I can’t think of any better examples. Thanks for sharing that. You may never know how many people that has helped.

hearkat's avatar

Thanks, @2davidc8 and @CWOTUS. That is why I am here, and that is why I hold nothing back in telling my story. I only wish I had had an outlet like this 20–30 years ago, and others that could offer me the benefit of their own 20/20 hindsight.

_Whitetigress's avatar

It’s not about being wrong or right. Your husband needs help. Talk to him one on one. Tell him that him drinking constantly hurts you and tell him you want him to be the best possible role model for your daughter growing up.

**If he wants to continue drinking. Leave his fucking ass! What it boils down to is being a good role model, day & night. Going out once a week is decent enough. Drinking every night is liver abuse.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t know about AA specifically, but I know when I worked in chemical dependency outpatient care both things were going on at once. The person needed to quit and they spent most of the day basically in therapy type sessions. Whether it be group or some individual. And, they did some reading and exercises to work their reasons for depending on drugs or alcohol. Some of them still had some drug levels in their system, we just watched to make sure it was decling and eventually zero. A lot of the patients were dual diagnosis, meaning they had other mental health issues, and they actually were ina completely separate group than the people deemed to only be addicts. The straight addiction people were supposed to be completely drug free. While dual diagnosis sometimes was still treated with some prescription meds. The addiction people really didn’t like any drugs present at all, their was a conflict about it sort of.

There is a grey blurry line I think between people who use alcohol at times to relax, and those who pop a pill prescribed by their doctor. Self medicating to some extent seems acceptable, except not for addicts.

geeky_mama's avatar

As a daughter of a long-time high-functioning alcoholic I want to hug @hearkat. You already know this – but you’ve done a wonderful thing for your son. Sharing your (incredibly well-written) story with @tan253 and the rest of us is also a tremendous help. Thank You.
Good Luck @tan253—and thank you for asking this question.

hearkat's avatar

@geeky_mama – Hug accepted. =D

serenityNOW's avatar

@tan253
Listen to everyone here. They’re telling you what you need to hear. Leave. Him. Now. If you want to try to reconcile, leave him now and maybe try to revisit the situation in a year. Bear in mind, even leaving him and taking your child may not be the tipping point for him to stop drinking, it will be a wake-up call. You deserve more.
My Dad quit drinking 3 years ago. He just turned 70. I am fiercely proud of him, but he left a lot of wreckage behind. And, he still hasn’t owned up to any of it. But that’s okay. Al-Anon does help, but was always a little too preachy for me. Listen: move on. You owe it to yourself. I don’t mean to be harsh, but my brother is still petrified of my Dad. He’s 39. My mother is a shadow of herself. My Dad doesn’t even talk to his own brother. Etc. Like I said, trail of wreckage. Be strong, and good luck!

hearkat's avatar

@tan253: How are things going?

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