Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

shattered dreams

Community Member
My husband for over 30 years has relapsed (again) after time away from alcohol-fuelled depression. He was doing so well after rehabilitation and I really hoped he'd succeed this time. I'm afraid I got extremely angry with him - called him terrible names, threw a pillow at him - I'm just so frustrated by this setback, I just wanted to 'kick him into action', and when this all fell on sleepy ears, I called in a health professional to try to talk him into going back to rehab. Now he won't speak to me, says I am unsupportive and he wants a divorce. He has threatened this before, but maybe this time for real ... So many dreams ahead of us feel shattered. So much history and tangled lives to unpick. Anyway, I'm anxious right now and feel like I've mishandled the situation. Don't know what to do, just don't know what to do.
18 Replies 18

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Lillianne~

I'd like to welcome you here to the Forum, a place where you can gain other's views.

You are by no means alone in this very distressing circumstances and many here will understand exactly what you are going though.

I doubt speaking you mind and throwing a pillow is anything to worry about and calling a medical professional sounds like a last-ditch attempt to get your huband to try to fight addiction again. Frankly when facing an . addiction one tries everything one can think of, and sadly it does not always work.

From what you say it sounds like this is not a new situation and your husband has relapsed before. Unfortunatly when that happens his thinking is not what you might expect, and it might at the moment seem easier to him to separate rather than try again.

I'm not sure there is one particular answer that always works, I guss the whole basis of recovery is that your husband must want to improve - which is where your support really does come in, and at this stage he does not wish to do that.

Admittedly it is a very hard thing, both the alcohol and the depression. Each need specialist care, however if he has done it before he is the same person inside and can do it again.

30 years is a very long time to be together and in that time each gets to know the other well. That can possibly be an anchor to prevent separation, or to bring back a desire to rejoin if separation does take place.

If you are stumped at the moment is there anyone else, children, family or a friend he might take more notice of?

One other thing that is worth mentioning. During all this time you are undergoing great stress and this needs to be helped, so may I ask what support you personally have? Perhaps someone you can talk frankly wiht or a councilor. It is easy to forget one's own welfare.

You may like to contact our 24/7 Help line on 1300 22 4636 to find out what specific help may be available in your area. Alternatively you can try:


which is set up for the families of those with a drinking problem.

Please let us know how you get on


Community Champion
Community Champion

hello and welcome.

sounds like you were caught between a rock and hard place?

or you were at your wits end with what to do?

and in hindsight we can look back and how we handle things and perhaps wish we did it differently.

whether it was the alcohol or the depression perhaps does not matter as from your husband's perspective it was just being put on him and now hurt and reacting. I cannot say how long it might take for things to calm down, or even how what will happen to the relationship.

I wonder, while the method was to shout be angry, how much of that was also driven by support or love?

What do you want to do?

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Yes, I get the feeling that you also need to feel supported as seeing things slip back can be deflating.
It's also hard not to take this personally as I am sure you have been heavily invested in his recovery.
And when all you require is some slight acknowledgement of your point of view, you find yourself in the firing line making it 'all your fault' - the antithesis of your efforts.
All standard fare I'm afraid, to cut and run when all you want is to make a connection to bring him back to the surface again.
While frustration has no regard for appropriate timing, choosing your moment to broach the subject may have been in error on this occasion. A calm apology for blowing a fuse (but not for the issue in question) may be in order to show you are concerned and require his participation and support equally to signify your both being on the same page.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Lillianne, after being married for 30 years is a long time, and in this period you would expect what each of you want, except with an addiction this may break that rule only because relapses do occur, as I found out for myself and this does cause many problems.

Going to rehab seems to be the obvious choice and in many cases can solve the problem, but for some, it works for a couple of weeks when they are released, but they believe they can just try one drink and then stop if they believe a situation is getting too difficult to handle, but one drinks leads onto another and then another and before long they're back to where they started with the disappointment of their family.

As much as you want him to stop, no bellowing, shouting or screaming at him will work as this has the opposite effect, because if he accepted going to rehab and wanted to stop but unfortunately had a relapse there's a particular reason why this has happened.

You handled this situation as best as you could, but sometimes the way you approach it isn't the way he wants to accept it.

Instead of a divorce have you thought about separating, sometimes being alone can change a person's mind, where he can go to AA and seek drug and alcohol counselling without the demands of having someone tell them that's what they should be doing.

As Croix has mentioned if you can contact https://www.al-anon.org.au may be of great benefit for you, that's who my sons contacted (via Mum) and found them to be very helpful.

Take care.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Lillianne,

I am so sorry, I can see how much effort and you have given your all into the situation for so long. I can imagine that can be incredibly frustrating and exhausting. Are you getting some support during these tough times too?

I wish I knew exactly what to say to comfort you but I just wanted to reply here and let you know that we hear you and you are a good person. Please don't ever forget that.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Lillianne,

Wellcome to our forums!

Im sorry this has happened I understand that it’s so hard to support our loved ones who are battling a addiction a addiction of any kind.

Its hard to watch them re laps , it’s hard to watch the pain they are in and it’s hard to sometimes know what to do.

I understand the way that you have reacted because you reacted in the moment out of frustration.

Sometimes we need to look at things from a different angle a angle of understanding…….. If we try to just understand , this will shift your mindset from judgment.

If we haven’t been through a addiction we can’t really know what this person feels like or is going through but with understanding at least we can begin to try.

Maybe when the water settles yourself and your husband can have a chat.

When the water is boiling no one can see clearly.

Just give it time and then re asses.

Community Member
Thank you all for your sensitivity, insight and empathy. Your kind advice is invaluable. Firstly, I’d like to report that the storm was intense, but short-lived and he has gone back into recovery. He has put into practice the CBT he learned in rehab and has acknowledged that both of our behaviours have lessons for us. Secondly, I have enrolled in a mental health first aid course so I can better understand and respond next time. Thirdly, I have had counselling before and it was helpful, I’ll review the self-help advice and I will continue to seek support when I need it - I don’t like to worry my friends and family too much. Once again, thank you. I am feeling emotionally drained right now, but less anxious. I’ll keep an eye on this forum and thread - it’s so supportive. Big appreciation to you all.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Lillianne~

I was delighted to read your post. Things said in the heat of the moment are thankfully just that -said in heat, and now that has past at least for the moment. There may always be ups and downs in life, please don't ever be discouraged.

It can be very hard for someone to accept they have a problem, and equally hard to accept advice and direction -even when given out of love. I guess it means one has to accept one needs that advice and direction and one's self image has to change to accommodate that (I hope this sort of makes sense).

It sounds very like this has happened and your husband is trying -which is truly great for both of you.

I'm also impressed with the measures are taking to ensure your own welfare, you are a strong, loving and sensible person and your husband is lucky to have you.

Please don't forget we are always here whenever you might like


Proud of you Lillianne,

Please make sure to look after yourself! We really do care and your wellbeing is so important. I can really see how much you care and I can completely hear that it can be frustrating and challenging when our loved ones are dealing with situations such as these.