Is my wife an alchoholic??
This is my first post and I am sure there are other posts along these lines but cant find a recent one, so here I go.
We have been married nearly 20 years have two boys 13 & 16 my wife hasn't had to work but has in the last couple of years worked 2-3 days a week.
I noticed her drinking was getting heavier about 4-5 years ago and addressed it with her not long after that, there were promises that she would try harder however it got up to 1.5-2 bottles of wine a night and slurring during dinner time with the kids. We had serious discussions and I saw our doctor about it who got us into Counselling sessions although my wife was very reluctant and did it purely to appease me. She doesnt believe she has a problem.
After the Counselling she reduced her intake for two weeks and has now settled back into a bottle a night with more on weekends usually staggering in at least once on a Friday or Saturday if not both. My boys look at me and roll their eyes. Her drinking quantity is 7-10 bottles of wine a week i.e. 56-80 standard drinks a week.
A key issue with her denial is that she functions very well, the house is not neglected, dinner is always ready, the boys are dropped to sports etc so she believes there is no problem, I think she is mis-interpreting what the problem is, i.e you don't have a right to complain about my drinking as everything (from a chore perspective) is done" and I can't deny that. When I get home from work she's almost done her first bottle and sometimes looking for a second. My problem is I shut down, don't communicate as I believe its not worth the fight, I think in my mind I see the marriage as over, it is just a matter of timing.
So my queries are as follows;
1. I am so confused that I don't even know what normal drinking levels should be, the quantities above are too much?
2. I have tried to support her and get her to understand my position but she doesn't see it as a problem so my next step is to separate and kick her out - problem is 4-5 years is a long time and I don't trust her anymore I have no respect or attraction left, so this will inevitably lead to divorce;
3. This leads to the damage divorce will do to my kids, especially my 13yo, he is kind hearted and loves his Mum and I worry about the pain he will feel if I do this, the 16yo is more resilient and I think will cope;
4. will the boys resent me later in life as an enabler or hate me for divorcing her - my parents divorced and I never wanted that for my kids.
It sounds like your boys are either pre- or early- teens so of course it sounds like you are making a good decision as you do not want them to end up in the same boat as her. Not be able to drive among other things, that alcoholism can cause. Alcoholics Annonymous works for some people, if they are willing to commit themselves.
Along with Geoff I shall be keen to see how things work out with the boys. I would take them away for a day and have a good chat with them over a friendly lunch.
Keep us posted.
I've had the chance to speak to the boys now, it was interesting to get their perspective, yes they are worried about her drinking and they were aware of the consistency and the extras on the weekend and the consequences of that i.e. staggering, slurring etc. The 16yo said that he always sees her with a wine in her hand so she must be going through a bottle a week, at least, so I'm taking that as a positive and that its not greatly influencing them at this point, sometimes maybe ignorance is bliss?? I suppose there will be a need to have a more serious conversation about the real quantities and issues around that but at this stage I just wanted their initial thoughts and not alarm them too much.
What concerned them more was her smoking, she is back on the ciggies after giving them up when she was pregnant and is a Chronic asthmatic and has a constant cough. The boys opinion was that the drinking won't kill her but the smoking will with lung cancer etc... the young one, 13yo, was very upset at this and was crying when talking about it. The older one was trying to verbalise his frustration at the deceit and hypocrisy of this i.e. why can you lie and deceive us us but yell at us if we try to dodge our way out of blame for something i.e. for doing normal kid stuff.
So I suppose that leaves the ball in my court, over the course of the last 3-4 years I've been about protecting the boys and me sucking up unhappiness so their lives aren't disrupted but over the last few months I've figured out that I can't give all of myself to my boys when I have this dark cloud hanging over my head. I know what I have to do to bring it to a head and it will break my heart as she is not a bad person and loves her boys but has taken a bad path and fallen into a bad habit (addiction if I'm being honest with myself).
One step at a time and I will see where this takes us.
Thanks again for 'listening'.
Good to hear from you.
Sounds like your talk with the boys went well, even though it would have been very challenging for you. I really like that you have such open and honest conversation with them. They were probably very relieved to talk to you about the giant elephant in the room, and I'm sure your openness and willingness to listen did them a lot of good.
I understand that it will "break your heart to bring it to a head", but I don't know that you have much choice because this problem won't go away by itself and it could get even worse. I think you need to minimise the harm to the boys in the best way you can.
It's tough because neither living with an alcoholic or separating are what you ever wanted. Only you can make this decision but I will say this, you are worthy of a better life.
Post any time. Kind thoughts to you
Hi BNS, what you have done is to protect your kids and give them some stability, this isn't easy as their mum is an alcoholic and it's going to affect them no matter how much you try because they are becoming adults very quickly and developing their own personality.
The love for your wife may remain, but it has changed and has caused you to become protective in a way you never expected.
Now it's something you never believed would ever happen, but when it does, it changes how you feel, so you start to question the situation you are now facing and when this does happen, means that you need to get your thoughts back on track.
You have a choice whether you want to stay in this position, but if you do nothing is going to change, except make you feel more alone and worse.
Get the help you need and ask the kids whether they want to go with you, never the less you need to make a decision and the sooner the better, and by separating or divorcing your wife, doesn't mean you don't love her, it's her addiction that has caused this, and you can't change her, that's all up to your wife.
There’s a lot of wisdom hear, and I think COIX said it as accurately is he could. Considering the amount your talking about, It is the kids safety at this point. Alcohol consumed daily at the rate you say is enough to sustain a level of blood alcohol that would illegal to drive with.
Above and beyond this, is her health.
I may have this but has their ever been an “intervention” enforced upon her by all of your family members?
The reason I ask is because my mother died of alcoholism when I was 17. I’ve spent the best part of 20 years wondering why we couldn’t come together and showing some hard love.
There are centres that she can commit too for up to 3 to months to “dry out”. For me had I been older and more the wiser it would be to my mum it’s the centre or the cemetery I’m sitting around watch the latter happen.
As for being a functional drunk, Robyn Williams said it best
”An alcoholic is as functional as paying pool with a piece of of rope”...
i wish you the best
Thanks again for all your support.
In regard to the intervention question, I have considered this in the past and bringing her parents into the loop. During the counselling sessions we were doing last year my counsellor suggested that this may seem like an act of betrayal and the state of mind my wife is in it would certainly be taken as such.
I suppose once I build up the courage (very soon) to actually ask her to leave i.e. I want the boys to have the stability of staying in their home so that in itself will be an intervention as she will need to live with her parents who will then get the picture of what is going on.
So yes it has been considered but thought it is an issue that she needs to alert her family to rather then me running to them behind her back and then 'ambushing' her.
Happy to hear others thoughts on this and whether I am off track???
Sorry that it took a while to get back to you with my own dramas. You are such a hero and it is good that the boys are on the same wavelength as yourself.
Your last two posts have a lot of wisdom attached. You certainly have the right thinking in terms of what is her responsibilities and what is yours.
As one of the others said all that you can do is put to her options for support including the Quitline from a smoking perspective.
Maybe you should work with the boys on this as it may work more if she hears it from them, as well as or instead of you. Kids often have power. If she really cares about them she would act. Maybe get them to write a book, or even draw pictures, on what they would love her to do and include at the end a list of resources that she can call upon.
Based on your previous advice from a professional, she certainly won't change in a hurry. But it is good that you and the boys are now in it together and have got each other for support.
As you say take one step at a time, and keep the boys in-the-loop every step of the way, once you are clear on your options, both practically and legally. Get on to Legal Aid if necessary.
Awful time for you, but you now have the boys on-side, and our thoughts are with you.
I don't have the answer on the intervention question because I think it depends on the strength of your relationship with her parents. Will they believe you? Will they support you? Will they support their daughter?
If the answers are yes, I would strongly consider bringing them into the loop. I say this because...
You are planning to ask a woman in denial about her drinking to leave her home and her children. I think it's reasonable to ask, why would she comply?
She doesn't think she has a problem. I'm a mum with two kids and unless I really believed it was in my kids' best interest, I would never leave them or my home.
It might help her to realise there is a genuine problem if her parents also talk with her. Of course, this again assumes that she would turn to them for help. She might not.
I think it would be helpful to ask the counsellor you saw with your wife her view about your plan and approach. The counsellor might have a better insight into how your wife might react.
Kind thoughts to you and the boys
Hi BNS, if you 'ambush' her, and remember she is unable to see the truth until she gets sober because she is in denial, then it will be difficult for her to accept the fact that she needs help.
She may resent her parents interfering as she has paid no attention to what you and/or the boys have said, the same will happen with them.
An alcoholic refuses help and this will only change when she knows she has a problem, but now, the only emotion she has is with the alcohol.
I'm sorry for you and your sons.
There have been so many good replies back to you on your thread