How do you tell him quitting drinking isn't enough?

Old 10-30-2010, 10:50 AM
  # 1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 24
How do you tell him quitting drinking isn't enough?

I've been married to a HFA for 11 years, and we have two daughters, 2 and 5. With therapy, I have come to accept that I should never have married him, and have wanted to leave for more than half our marriage. His drinking got bad enough that I knew I couldn't stay with him, for my sake and for my daughters'. He's not abusive to any of us when he drinks, just annoying and abrasive. I've tried twice to leave him--told him I wanted a divorce, and he just refuses. He says he'll do anything to keep our family together. Multiple times, he has admitted he drinks too much and tried to "cut back", with varying degrees of success.

All along, I have used his drinking as the primary reason for my wanting to leave because it is something tangible I can point to and use as justification. He now offers to quit drinking altogether and go to AA, although he says he doesn't think it's necessary, he's only doing it to make me happy and to keep me in the marriage. I know that won't work for a number of reasons, but he insists that he can and do whatever he has to to keep the family together.

Right now, it's not financially feasible to leave. We both work, but we are paying a mortgage on a house we moved out of last month so I could transfer back to our hometown from another state, and now we're paying rent on an apartment. No way can we afford to maintain a 3rd home.

So, for the next few months or more (until the old house sells), we are living under the same roof. He continuously tells me how much he loves me and that he won't let me "do this" to our kids, and I refuse to tell him I love him or to have sex with him.

He changes tactics, sometimes within the same conversation, going back and forth between being humble and promising to become the husband I deserve and angrily accusing me of not pulling my weight around the house or in the marriage, and telling me we both have to work together to make this work. I tell him I'm not prepared to do that, that I worked on it for the last 5 years alone and I'm done.

There are times I think I should stay, just to avoid putting my girls through the pain of divorce, but I can barely even look at this man. In the last 6 weeks, since his latest effort to cut back on his drinking, I have caught him sneaking beer behind my back. I know if I agree to stay, he will try to quit drinking, maybe even go to a meeting or two, but within a few months (at best), it will be back to business as usual.

We do have a marriage counseling appointment this week, but I don't know what to say to a counselor. I'm not going to save our marriage, I'm going to try to get an objective 3rd party to help me explain to my AH that I'm leaving. I don't even know if it works that way.

Any advice or encouragement will be appreciated. I'm feeling very stuck and out of control.

Last edited by Michelle70; 10-30-2010 at 10:53 AM. Reason: added spaces at the beginning of paragraphs for ease of reading.
Michelle70 is offline  
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Michelle70 For This Useful Post:
celticghirl (10-31-2010), Hollyanne (11-01-2010), keepinon (10-30-2010), seekingcalm (10-31-2010)
Old 10-30-2010, 11:18 AM
  # 2 (permalink)  
A work in progress
LexieCat's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 16,633
I'm going to suggest a book I found VERY helpful as I was going through a couple of divorces and the breakup of a LTR: Uncoupling: Turning Points in Intimate Relationships, by Diane Vaughan.

That was my "Bible" the way some people love Co-Depenedent No More. Uncoupling is the product of a study the author did on the breakups of long-term relationships, from the perspective of both partners. The "initiator" is the one who wants to leave--and has come to that decision in his/her heart long before the "partner" really has a clue there is a serious problem.

What is awesome about the book is how most breakups (and she interviewed people who were married or living together, gay and straight) follow a fairly predictable course, with one person being the one who wants out and the other the one who wants things to stay the same. What she learned is that by the time the "partner" (the one who is being "left") finds out the other is serious, the whole process gets dragged out further by promises and efforts being made to "save" the relationship, which are probably doomed by the fact that the "initiator" wants OUT and is likely to sabotage those efforts (not necessarily consciously).

She has many, many interviews with "initiators" and "partners" about what was really going on during these various stages of breaking up. I liked it because it validated my own experience and it also helped me to understand where my partner was coming from and how he might be feeling.

It doesn't have anything to do with alcoholism or addiction per se, but since you seem to have made the decision you want out regardless of his drinking or not, you might find it a helpful read.
LexieCat is offline  
The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to LexieCat For This Useful Post:
Babyblue (10-30-2010), HealingWillCome (10-30-2010), Hollyanne (11-01-2010), keepinon (10-30-2010), Learn2Live (10-31-2010), Michelle70 (10-31-2010), seekingcalm (10-31-2010), wicked (10-30-2010)
Old 10-30-2010, 11:25 AM
  # 3 (permalink)  
Community Greeter
Freedom1990's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Kansas
Posts: 10,182
Originally Posted by Michelle70 View Post
There are times I think I should stay, just to avoid putting my girls through the pain of divorce, but I can barely even look at this man.

Believe me, it's a lot more painful for those children to be living with an active alcoholic father than it ever will be to experience the divorce of those parents.

I empathize that you want him to understand it isn't just the drinking, but you can't make him understand what he refuses to understand.

As you've already found out, it's nothing but circular conversations with an alcoholic.

You've told him you are done.

Your house needs to sell in order for you to be in a position to leave.

I'm not sure what a marriage counselor can do, or is willing to do as far as communicating that you are done.

I doubt he's going to be any more receptive to a third party than he's been with you.

I'm truly sorry for all your pain.

It's one huge miserable mess being married to an alcoholic.

Sending you hugs on the Kansas winds.
Freedom1990 is offline  
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Freedom1990 For This Useful Post:
HealingWillCome (10-30-2010), Learn2Live (10-31-2010), Michelle70 (10-31-2010), yeahgr8 (10-30-2010)
Old 10-30-2010, 11:31 AM
  # 4 (permalink)  
keepinon's Avatar
Join Date: May 2010
Location: central coast, ca
Posts: 1,652
You know, I left my husband after 6 yrs of marriage(we wound up reconciling). It should not have abeen a suprise since I cried all the time and told him almost daily that i didn't think I could take much more. But it was a huge shock for him. I really think that men just hear "wahwahwahWAHwah' like the adults in the Cherlie Brown cartoons. They are action oriented..when you pack a bag and walk outthe door that's their first clue you might not be perfectly happy.
A marraige counselor can help either way.I was WAAAY on the fence, but the therapist said even if I decided to go she could be of help because we had kids together and would have to deal with each other no matter what. So, let the therapist help you tell him.Sounds like a good idea to me.There will no doubt be fallout and having a mediator would be helpful. Good's never easy, but you'll be ok.
PS We tried that seperated in the same house thing..i was honestly afraid I would kill him, so he went to his parents.Is there ANYWHERE for either one of you to go?
keepinon is offline  
The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to keepinon For This Useful Post:
HealingWillCome (10-30-2010), Hollyanne (11-01-2010), Learn2Live (10-31-2010), Michelle70 (10-31-2010), sapphire69 (10-31-2010), seekingcalm (10-31-2010)
Old 10-30-2010, 11:45 AM
  # 5 (permalink)  
ItsmeAlice's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,888
I was at a interestingly similar point in my decade-long relationship with my XABF. It was always about his drinking. Our biggest fights were after a long binge of his and he would always throw everything at me but the kitchen sink the next day. He'd cry, he'd apologize, he'd accuse me of driving him to drink, he'd promise the moon, he'd bargain..on and on.

When I got into recovery and starting detaching my thoughts from his drinking and leaving that on the back burner, I started seeing the relationship more clearly and what I wanted out of it. In all, I realized I just wasn't being treated well. I wasn't feeling respected. I wasn't being heard. I wasn't being loved and appreciated. I wasn't feeling comfortable in my own home. I was craving attention and affection and when I did receive it there was always a catch with it, I felt manipulated in many ways.

What I wanted was to trust, to love and be loved, to listen and then feel heard.

I stopped fussing about the drinking and told him that I wanted these things. I told him how I wanted to be treated and that I wanted to be happy. It was XABF who kept bringing it back to the alcohol. That was his excuse for not treating me well. For him it was the alcohol that made him angry and volatile. The alcohol made him dislike me.

I told him again that I wanted to be treated a certain way by the man in my life. I was willing to make every effort to treat him the same way, but if he could not give me what I wanted I would move on.

He came back with promises to stop drinking. I stopped him short and told him I didn't care if he drunk every day for the rest of his life, which would be a lot shorter understandably in that case, but if he treated me well and could give back what he was getting from me in the relationship, then it didn't matter to me. I wanted an equal partner in love and life. If he could be that, then how and when he consumed beer would not be an issue.

I left the decision to him to decide if he could treat me the way I wanted and I had to be prepared to accept the outcome if he decided he couldn't.

I certainly thought he could do it, although in my heart I knew his addiction to alcohol would make it almost impossible for him to. In the end he decided he couldn't be a drinker and be a good partner. His action, not his words, told me so. I focused on how I felt around him and how I felt treated rather than any drinking.

We separated 1 yr and 3 mos ago. It was the best decision for me even though he had a big part in making it.

Best to you!

ItsmeAlice is offline  
The Following 12 Users Say Thank You to ItsmeAlice For This Useful Post:
blueblooms14 (10-31-2010), Freedom1990 (10-30-2010), HealingWillCome (10-30-2010), Hollyanne (11-01-2010), keepinon (10-30-2010), Learn2Live (10-31-2010), Michelle70 (10-31-2010), nodaybut2day (11-01-2010), Paintbaby (10-31-2010), prich (10-31-2010), RollTide (10-31-2010), wicked (10-30-2010)
Old 10-31-2010, 07:49 AM
  # 6 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 24
Thank you--I can't tell you how much

Just reading all the kind and encouraging words have brought tears to my eyes. You all understand me in a way the most well-meaning friends can't unless they've been here. I will get the book Lexie recommended (it sounds invaluable) and give careful thought to everything you all have written.

Last night, my AH said he's going to quit drinking and go to AA meetings for himself AND me. He still doesn't really "get" it, in so many ways and on so many issues, but for whatever reason, if he quits drinking even for awhile, it certainly can't be a bad thing.

We both have parents in the area, so theoretically one of us could stay with them, but neither of us is willing to leave and let the other stay here with the kids. He offered once for us to take turns leaving the house a couple nights a week to stay with our parents so I could have the space I've been asking for, but when I took him up on it, he wasn't actually willing to do it.

On the up side, we had a couple express interest in our house over the weekend, so maybe it will sell and the final roadblock will be gone. That will be the interesting part--when there are no more reasons that I "have" to stay, will I actually have the courage to leave?

Regarding the damage to the kids, it's more than just the divorce itself, unfortunately. I know because I have seen it already, both he and his parents will say things to them about how "Mommy is breaking up the family" and they will try to turn the children against me and my parents. I know the girls will always love me, but I also know how much harder on them it will be when he does that. I hope to convince him to continue counseling with me throughout this process, and maybe a professional will be able to help us negotiate the divorce and custody arrangements while doing the least emotional damage possible to the kids.

Again, thank you all, and I will be back again and again for the strength and hope you offer, just by being here.
Michelle70 is offline  
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Michelle70 For This Useful Post:
blueblooms14 (10-31-2010), Hollyanne (11-01-2010), least (10-31-2010), nodaybut2day (11-01-2010), RollTide (10-31-2010)
Old 10-31-2010, 07:57 AM
  # 7 (permalink)  
Thriving sober since 12/18/08
flutter's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 3,115
Well, I hope he's serious about pursuing recovery, no matter what. It will really benefit the children, and probably help maintain an amicable relationship between you two, for the children in coming months and years, post divorce (if that's what you end up pursuing), or otherwise.

A good friend of mine always says, it's better to come from a broken home than to live in one.
flutter is offline  
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to flutter For This Useful Post:
blueblooms14 (10-31-2010), Hollyanne (11-01-2010), least (10-31-2010), LexieCat (10-31-2010), prich (10-31-2010)
Old 10-31-2010, 01:15 PM
  # 8 (permalink)  
Bernadette's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Boston
Posts: 2,812
There are times I think I should stay, just to avoid putting my girls through the pain of divorce, but I can barely even look at this man.

What would the girls learn about healthy adult relationships having a mom who can't stand the sight of their dad? A mom, a mature woman, who is just enduring her marriage? And for their sake?? YUK.

Healthy rational communication sets a good example. If grandparents are trying to poison their minds then you sit down and talk to the girls directly about it: I understand grandma/grandpa are having a hard time with this - and we all WISH it could be different but the REALITY is that dad and I cannot stay married in a healthy way. It is not your fault, and we both love you, and I am always here to talk to you about anything when you need to.

Magical thinking won't make a happy family. And a happy family isn't a perfect mom/dad/house situation - it is the place where children feel safe, and loved and not lied to or manipulated.

Bernadette is offline  
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Bernadette For This Useful Post:
Hollyanne (11-01-2010), least (10-31-2010), LexieCat (10-31-2010), missphit (10-31-2010)
Old 10-31-2010, 01:43 PM
  # 9 (permalink)  
A work in progress
LexieCat's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 16,633
Yup, I'll second what Flutter said. My first husband got sober before we got married, but his good, strong recovery made it possible for us to maintain an extraordinarily friendly and supportive relationship long after the divorce. We disagree on some issues, but always respectfully, and the one who is most affected gets to make the decision. I stay with him and his wife when I go to visit my kids (now college-age). You can't put a price tag on any of that.
LexieCat is offline  
Old 10-31-2010, 03:59 PM
  # 10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 2,059
just wanted to say hi and welcome, michelle.

you're in the right place. this place is a wee oasis in an ocean of misunderstanding. pull up your computer and join in. you won't be sorry. of that i am sure.

naive is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to naive For This Useful Post:
Hollyanne (11-01-2010)
Old 10-31-2010, 06:15 PM
  # 11 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 24
Oh, how quickly things change with an A

Well, AH still plans to quit drinking but says he doesn't need AA. I'm going to start going to Al-Anon meetings, though. I'm going to make use of all available resources.

Flutter, I agree that pursuing sobriety would be good, regardless of what happens to us, but now that he's dismissed the idea of AA (already), I'm not hopeful that it will work for any length of time. I've heard it so many times before. Quack, quack.

Lexie, I know, I know. Intellectually, I know that I don't want my girls to think that a marriage is supposed to be like this, and I definitely don't want them to repeat the pattern. It's just that in the short term, it feels easier to stay. It's going to take a lot of strength and courage to take those first steps, but I take comfort in knowing it's right for me and for them.

I'm so thankful to be here with you all. I hope to be able to offer someone else some comfort, as you all have given me.
Michelle70 is offline  
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Michelle70 For This Useful Post:
Hollyanne (11-01-2010), ItsmeAlice (10-31-2010), least (10-31-2010), nodaybut2day (11-01-2010), Smallsteps (11-01-2010)
Old 11-01-2010, 06:28 PM
  # 12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 234
For what it's worth, I got a divorce when my daughter was two, I was in school and broke. She's now 30, married to a wonderful man, has one kid and another on the way. She is happy.

IMHO, what children need is a happy parent. It makes them feel secure. The greatest gift you can give your children is to live a happy, peaceful life.

Better days are ahead!
trapeze is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to trapeze For This Useful Post:
flutter (11-02-2010), Hollyanne (11-01-2010)

Currently Active Users Viewing this Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:48 PM.