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Old 12-29-2010, 01:31 PM
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New and don't know what to do

Hi.

I've been married about 15 years. We have a young daughter.

My husband is, I believe, a highly functioning alcoholic. He's had 2 arrests, 1 DUI with a 6 month license suspension. He's done the court ordered programs and AA and did stop drinking and driving for several years (although was still drinking moderately).

He can go long periods without getting drunk and with very controlled moderate drinking (he's European and they don't believe in abstinence, they do moderation programs with points like Weight Watchers, but for alcohol. My big thing was always that he not drink and drive.)

He recently got wasted and drove drunk. I am struggling with what I want to do.

I've always been clear that this is his problem that he needs to fix for himself so I have left it to him to succeed or fail.

We've already done the marriage counseling thing the last time. I was very clear that this behavior was a deal breaker at that time. My problem now is I don't want to be financially and legally entangled with someone who is driving drunk, not when it puts my daughter at risk. Nor do I want to live with someone who isn't honest with themselves or me about their problems.

I do love him. Not sure I believe in him anymore, but I do love him. He's a good guy in many many ways, a great Dad but he can't stop drinking and is still not really cognizant of the fact that he is an alcoholic.

He is going to AA but he's not yet to the point of sincerely working the program. It is hard for him to accept the label of alcoholic when he is 'good' for such long periods of time. All the deflection and justifications mentioned on this board have been tried. It is upsetting to him that other people drink and drive and it's okay for them. To which I keep saying, you don't know that it's okay. You don't know that they haven't had DUIs.

We also have a list of counselors that he needs to select from. I've decided, for me, that he must continue with AA or the marriage is over. He, of course, is going to do what he is going to do, but at least he knows the price of his choices.

Beyond this, I just don't know what to do. I don't know how to trust him. I feel like I should leave him but I am not sure yet if that is the right thing to do.

I feel like he has broken our marriage with his drinking and he's not going to like what it takes to fix it. Namely telling me where he's going, who he is with, when he will be home, avoiding trigger situations (work Xmas party with alcoholic boss for example) etc... The dynamic where he's beholden to me is problematic because it's viewed as me being controlling as opposed to basic courtesy/accountability. I guess the fact that he can't see that he has a responsibility to keep me nominally informed of his activities so I know what to expect and how to manage the family schedule is probably a huge flag in conjunction with the drinking.

Any advice on sorting any of this out is welcome.

Thanks
V
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:48 PM
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Hi Violet and welcome to the SR family!

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Your story is similar to mine. (All our stories have lots of similiarities, tho).

I was married to my alcoholic for 14 years.

I left because he continued to drink and drive drunk. I knew that financially, legally, and mentally I could not continue to subject myself and my children to this risk. I chose to get legal help and leave the marriage.

There were other reasons, of course, but the risk of losing everything and being sued because of dui was not a risk I was willing to live with.

Please make yourself at home by reading and posting as much as needed.

Here is a link that contains steps that have helped myself and others here:
http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...l-problem.html
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:52 PM
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Hi Violet and welcome to SR!

You're not alone.

I read your post with interest
and am wondering
if you've begun to think
about getting yourself some support

that may not include your husband?

IT's hard to try and deal with all this on your own.
And all the therapy you're mentioning
is all for him.
WHat about for you?

I hope you'll use the forum sticky
and read up on Alanon.

It really does help
to have support in the real world
as well as online.

Welcome to SR!
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:00 PM
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With all due respect, it sounds to me like you ARE trying to control him. You are giving him rules instead of setting boundaries for yourself. You've already told him that his behavior was a deal breaker, yet he continues to do as he pleases. Making idle threats and then not following through only tells him that you aren't serious.

Your husband is a grown man and, as you said, he will do whatever he is going to do. All you can do is control how you deal with the situation and what you will and will not live with. Have you considered attending al-anon meetings? You will gain much face to face support there and learn how to take care of your own well-being regardless of what your husband chooses to do.

Outside of checking out al-anon meetings, my only other suggestion is that you separate your finances from his. Get yourself a bank account that he cannot access. Not only will you need the money should you choose to leave, but it will keep him from spending all the money.
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:14 PM
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He doesn't have a spending problem.

My boundaries are that I expect to be informed of his schedule because we are a family and what he does affects everyone. It is easy to interpret that as controlling, but would you seriously just let your spouse disappear for hours on end and not care? My husband is famous for saying he'll be back by 8 and then not coming home until midnight and it's not all drinking related, he just sucks at time management and doesn't think I should care.

Well sorry, we have a small child and a family and I am not a flipping nanny. Whoever I'm married too doesn't just get to do whatever they want.
V
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:34 PM
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Trust me, I know exactly how you feel. I've been exactly where you are and it sucked out loud. The thing is, you can tell him to do all those things, but what if he doesn't, and chances are, he won't. We cannot control another adult person, we can only control ourselves. We have the right to have the kind of home life we want, but we cannot force someone to do things our way. Sorry if that upsets you, but that's just the way it is.
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:03 PM
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I get that I am not able to control, what I am trying to express is that I am setting expectations which he interprets as controlling.

It is a perception thing. My perception is that we are in a relationship and we are accountable to each other. I tell my husband where I am going, who I am with and when I will be back. I call if I am late and apologize if I mess up my schedule. I am always accountable to my family.

He perceives that kind of expectation as controlling. That is _his_ problem. Not mine. He's the one that forgets, oh yeah, we have to do xyz for our family so I can't do abc for my buddy--I am the one keeping that all organized. Honestly, the guy would double book his schedule when we were dating, making a date with me and plans with friends at the same time, not noticing the conflict until he was 2 hours late.

He's slightly better, since we've been married, but still has issues with this and I have ended up very much being the event planner in our relationship. That is okay with me but I don't appreciate the displacement from him.

Instead of him realizing this is his baggage he has a tendency to turn it back on me like I'm the big bad nag. It's dumb. I hope he evolves past it. Now with the drinking, if he's not open with me (and he does lie about going out to bars with his buddies) then I assume he is lying and not controlling his behavior.

And I ask him about it so I know what's what so I can determine my own fate in this relationship not because I expect I can control him, but that is how HE takes it. So my controlling comment is not about me actually controlling anything it's how HE perceives things.

It's a deflection. If I'm the terrible nag, he's not accountable. But my boundary is people have to be accountable and if you don't like it, well there's the door. Enjoy paying child support and forking over half your retirement to me.

V
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:08 PM
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But my boundary is people have to be accountable and if you don't like it, well there's the door. Enjoy paying child support and forking over half your retirement to me.

Well, there ya go! That's really about all you can do. I've heard it said that expectations are little more than future resentments. I tend to agree with that.
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:51 PM
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I told my husband he was making the same mistakes and I wasn't sure I wanted to repeat them with him.

I also told him I don't believe in him anymore.

He just has to stop drinking. I have to learn how to believe again.

I think he has it easier.

I don't have much hope and reading here has been very educational and supports, I think, the idea that I am doomed to repeat this pattern with him if I stay.

V
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Old 12-30-2010, 04:11 AM
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>>he's European and they don't believe in abstinence, they do moderation programs with points like Weight Watchers, but for alcohol.

Oh, really? I think he is pulling your leg...

When I was drinking, I would be "ok" for long stretches (i.e. drunk, but not causing problems), with occasional "not ok" bursts. And, in the grand scheme of things, one "not ok" day out of 100 is a pretty good percentage! That means that 99 out of 100 days are ok! If other people don't understand that, they are the ones with the problem, they are expecting too much perfection out of me!

I never got past that line of thinking myself. What happened for me is that over the years, my alcohol tolerance crept up, so that the amount of alcohol I was consuming on "ok" days was large enough that my doctors said I should be going to rehab ASAP (I escaped this sentence by throwing myself into AA). I always told the truth about my drinking to my doctors, but not to my wife. Funny that...
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Old 12-30-2010, 05:51 AM
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I'm told all I want to do is talk about his drinking!

Nevermind the fact that he IS always drinking.

Trying to right the ship with an active A is such a crazy exercise. I don't have much advice but wanted to chime in that I know where you are coming from and have felt the same frustration you are feeling.
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by hps View Post
>>he's European and they don't believe in abstinence, they do moderation programs with points like Weight Watchers, but for alcohol.

Oh, really? I think he is pulling your leg....
Seriously. I assume he told you that? I'm european, too (and an alcoholic). I used to tell my husband that everyone drank like me and it was just the boring americans who went out and got ice tea with dinner. I mean, I believed it! :rotfxko

I agree with the advice you've been given. Good luck!
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Old 12-30-2010, 07:24 AM
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Seems to me as though someone who is ordered to go to AA by a court is far likely to sincerely benefit from the programme than someone who chooses that path of their own volition. Also, it doesn't sound to me as though this man chose to go to marriage counselling because he wanted to do so. In fact, I don't see any evidence from your post that the man is claiming recovery and sobriety for himself: he's reluctantly agreeing to it because other people want him to give it a try. That's a great shame because without WANTING to recover for his own sake, he's not going to enjoy the process. And sober recovery is a wonderful feeling which has benefits for the addict and the people around them.
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by hps View Post
>>he's European and they don't believe in abstinence, they do moderation programs with points like Weight Watchers, but for alcohol.

Oh, really? I think he is pulling your leg...

..
Actually no. There was a Dateline or 20/20 segment on the 'points' program for drinking in Europe. I believe the program was in the UK. I don't know how widely accepted or supported it is/was, but it was an active program.

Drinking is a huge problem in Europe, AA is not entrenched there and culturally drinking is not perceived as the problem it is here. I read an Atlantic article once that said 50+% of Russian men, no matter what they died from, they were rip roaring drunk when they died.

And I come from a family of academic anthropologists so I am a bit more aware of cultural interpretations of things. My husband's culture definitely would not think he had any problem at all, even with the drinking and driving. Of course his home country is set up so that you're using public transport and drunk driving is minimized that way.

Now that he's here and married to me and subject to our legal system, it's a different story.

Okay gotta go, he's snooping over my shoulder.

V
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Violet3 View Post
he's European and they don't believe in abstinence, they do moderation programs with points like Weight Watchers, but for alcohol.
It is worth distinguishing between northern and southern europeans. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the different cultural perspectives to alcohol abuse and recovery, it is certainly worth reading this.
A small excerpt: "George Vaillant found not only that Irish Americans had more drinking problems than Italian Americans, but that Irish Americans believed that the only way to overcome a drinking problem was to quit drinking altogether, whereas Italian Americans who overcame a drinking problem were more likely to moderate their drinking."

Originally Posted by Violet3 View Post
He recently got wasted and drove drunk. I am struggling with what I want to do.
Drink driving needs to be a complete non negotiable in any context. I think naive might be the best person to suggest how to handle this one?

Originally Posted by Violet3 View Post
He is going to AA but he's not yet to the point of sincerely working the program...I've decided, for me, that he must continue with AA or the marriage is over.
AA is not for everyone. Also, before making AA a complete deal breaker, I recommend you do a google search on "Alcoholics Anonymous success rate". I was shocked with what I found out but you should make up your own mind.

Originally Posted by Violet3 View Post
I feel like he has broken our marriage with his drinking and he's not going to like what it takes to fix it. Namely telling me where he's going, who he is with, when he will be home
I am not too sure these things are going to fix much. He needs to acknowledge for himself that what he gets from drinking is too expensive when compared with what the addiction is costing him (in terms of his marriage, his relationship with his daughter, DUIs etc etc) and to choose to do something about it himself.

Originally Posted by Violet3 View Post
I guess the fact that he can't see that he has a responsibility to keep me nominally informed of his activities so I know what to expect and how to manage the family schedule is probably a huge flag in conjunction with the drinking.
I would say that he most certainly has a responsibility to respect you and your daughter. But he is not a child and you are not his guardian.

Whilst I dont want to defend alcoholics, please bear in mind that he is not a bad person, just an addicted person. His actions are not rational as understood by non-addicted people. Try to separate the addiction from the person. Having said that, you must be prepared to follow through with any boundaries that you set. We alcoholics are like 4 year old children and we push the boundaries. We only ever stop pushing boundaries when those boundaries are rigidly enforced.

All best wishes
NAT
(52 days sober and working hard to rebuild my marriage)
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:52 AM
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Arrest trips up 'moderate drinking' crusader's cause

If he is an alcoholic......

If he isn't, would have thought that the first DUI would have been a wake up call, and he wouldn't still be drinking and driving.

Have read this debated endlessly, but I have never met an alcoholic that was able to drink socially consistently, despite all of their best efforts. I have known a fair number that went back out, and were drinking harder than they were before the period of sobriety, usually after a fairly short period of time.

Ironic, MM has as their 4th rule, "Don't drink and drive".
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by endlesspatience View Post
Seems to me as though someone who is ordered to go to AA by a court is far likely to sincerely benefit from the programme than someone who chooses that path of their own volition. Also, it doesn't sound to me as though this man chose to go to marriage counselling because he wanted to do so. In fact, I don't see any evidence from your post that the man is claiming recovery and sobriety for himself: he's reluctantly agreeing to it because other people want him to give it a try. That's a great shame because without WANTING to recover for his own sake, he's not going to enjoy the process. And sober recovery is a wonderful feeling which has benefits for the addict and the people around them.
I agree with everything you said.

I'm going to do my best to try and make things work on my end, but just in the few days of reading here, I recognize it is prudent to start planning for a divorce.

V
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by sailorjohn View Post

If he is an alcoholic......

If he isn't, would have thought that the first DUI would have been a wake up call, and he wouldn't still be drinking and driving.

Have read this debated endlessly, but I have never met an alcoholic that was able to drink socially consistently, despite all of their best efforts. I have known a fair number that went back out, and were drinking harder than they were before the period of sobriety, usually after a fairly short period of time.

Ironic, MM has as their 4th rule, "Don't drink and drive".
Agreed. My only requirement was that he manage the drinking so it wasn't a problem, I left it up to him to decide the how because real change has to come organically from within, not from a third party.

Unfortunately, he is an alcoholic so his method preserved access to alcohol and he is proving unable or unwilling to do what needs to be done for himself, so that he can be a whole person in a loving marriage.

V
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:06 AM
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I've heard the ethnic background/culture arguments, too (although in my case, it was all about how in his culture, it was accepted and expected that people yell and scream and throw things and call people names when they get into an argument.)

Here's my thing: Just because something is accepted in one culture doesn't mean I have to accept it in my life. There are people who believe that honor killings, female genital mutilation, animal sacrifice, and forbidding women to wear pants respectively are important parts of their culture. I still refuse them in my life.

It's not about what's acceptable to him. It's about what's acceptable to you. And only you can determine what is and what isn't.
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by NoAlcoholToday View Post
It is worth distinguishing between northern and southern europeans. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the different cultural perspectives to alcohol abuse and recovery, it is certainly worth reading this.
That's an interesting article, TY. I actually agree with much of it. Although I am definitely the breed of alcoholic for whom moderation is not an option.
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