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Better to divorce or stay with functioning alcoholic
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Better to divorce or stay with functioning alcoholic

I do not know if it is better to stay with my functioning alcoholic husband or leave. When he is sober he is funny, and a great dad. But he is drunk 3-4 days a week. I have a lot of anxiety I believed is caused my unhappiness or depression in my marriage. I think I would be a lot happier without him but I don't want my 2 kids to grow up without their father, especially my daughter. Then again, I don't want them learning dependency from him/codependency from me. We have been married 10 years and most of that has been filled with conflict. We have weathered his 2 DUI's, my cancer and severe health problems, two children, unemployment, everything.  You would think that after almost losing me to cancer he would appreciate me some but he still blows me and the kids off, comes home, gets drunk, sleepwalks through life.  He is not physically abusive but can be very verbally hurtful when drunk.  I have caught him trying to cheat on me several times, once with my adult niece.  He pressures me constantly to "swing" and we fight about this often. I make 2x as much money as him, pay all the bills because his $ is for beer,gas, lunch money.  What is the point of him working? I almost think I am very afraid of getting cancer again and being by myself (my family offered me little support this last time).  I also still love him and deep down don't want to hurt him, I know it will devastate him.  But he doesn't change, blames me for everything. AA was ordered by the court for both his DUI's and didn't help him.  He says he is an alcoholic and laughs about it. AlAnon is not an option for me, because he would have to watch the kids and he won't.  I know financially I can do it because I pay everything now, and when he was out of work for a year, but is it better for my kids to stay with their father? My parents have been married 50 years and I really wanted that, but so sad I don't think it can hapen. WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Would you stay or go? He will not give up drinking. I know ultimately the decision is mine but having trouble deciding if I can bear living with an alcoholic just to give my kids their father.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi sorry for your tough situation you have there.

Have you thought about separating for now, and taking yourself and your kids away from that environment?  You are financially sound, so no worries there.  Husband could still have access to visit the kids.  Who knows, it may take a move like this to bring him to his senses?  Or he may never change.  You will soon know.  

Sometimes you can't see "the forest for the trees" and you have to remove yourself from the picture a little to get a better overall view of things.  

It sounds like you are not being appreciated, and also your children might learn certain behaviours from your husband if they stay in the current environment.  

So how about trying separation for now, see how it goes, and divorce if necessary later?  Don't stay in a bad marriage to try to emulate your parents' example.  I hope you and your children find some peace.  
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1293643_tn?1283866634
I am so sorry for you being in that situation - BUT, and it's a big BUT.... I don't think you are doing your kids any favors having them exposed to an abusive (even verbally) father and a mother who puts up with it.

You have the advantage in that you are financially secure - so as hard as it is I think moving out/on is just about the only solution - and that will be hard because now you are so close to it you can't see the wood for the trees.

I think a bit of distance is called for - you are not old (being married for only 10 years) so you can start another life and met someone who deserves you and will act as a better role model for your two children.

It does not sound like a healthy relationship - and yes you may love him, but are you in love with him, in love with him enough to damage your and your children's lives.....
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134578_tn?1404951303
So what if your parents were married 50 years, you are not them, and your husband is not good husband material as things stand now.  Go, and show your children what it is like to be in a sane, functioning household.  There are a lot worse things than being with your dad if dad is an abusive drunk.  You're teaching them that it's tolerable to be an abusive drunk because other people will put up with you in the name of love.  Guess what, that is a bad lesson to teach children.

Good luck, I hope that wasn't harsh, but really, if you won't stand up for yourself to be treated right, stand up for those kids.
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134578_tn?1404951303
Excuse me, I meant there are a lot worse things than NOT being with your dad, if the dad is an abusive drunk.  It's better to be in a family with a mom who is the only parent, if she is together and healthfully puts together a happy and mentally healthy life for herself and the kids, than it is to be in a situation where everyone is tiptoeing around an abusive drunk.  You're acting like this man is a prize because he's the dad.  He's in fact the booby prize because he's never going to stop drinking as things stand now.
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973741_tn?1342346373
Hi.  Functioning alcoholic is a misnomer.  He doesn't function very well when he is drunk and he is drunk frequently.  As others have said, you have children that should not see this as normal.  Cycles repeat and you are setting them up for creating the same kind of home this is.  

We tend to become accustomed to a certain thing and start to rationalize it and see it as "not that bad".  I think if you are away from it for a while you will start to see that it is indeed that bad.

I'm a big advocate for marriage but when it comes to addiction, that is a deal breaker for me.  And your best chance of getting him to see that he could go to rehab and make a change is to leave and let him hit his bottom.  If he refuses treatment, he is not a functioning alcoholic, he is a stubborn alcoholic that puts the drink above his family.

I wish you so much luck.  This is painful.  To love someone with an addiction problem hurts and is frightening at times.  But you need a whole person as a partner and as long as he is drinking, he isn't.  I think you must go. Good luck
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Avatar_m_tn
Hmm... He was with you through your disease and you want to to leave him in his disease.  Cool.

You ALL need help.   He's making excuses and you are making excuses.   You can't afford the time to go to al-anon, you can't afford a babysitter but you can afford to walk away now that you are more financially secure.

In my experience there are very few, almost none actually, situations where a saint is married to a demon.  Family counseling first and then go from there.

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973741_tn?1342346373
Sam, on this we disagree.  Sounds like he has scoffed at the idea of recovery and at that point----------  he wasn't really there supporting her through her disease.  It is impossible to do that through a stupor.  She sought help and treatment for her disease--------- he did not.  She must go.  
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973741_tn?1342346373
I do agree, however, that she might want to seek a therapist for herself and attend al anon meetings to understand why she lived this life for as long as she has.  Co dependence often repeats as does the fact that if a child lives with an alcoholic they will often either marry one or become one as an adult.  So, family counseling for the kids too.  But you can't help someone who will not help themselves.  And that describes her husband.  
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Avatar_m_tn
"We have weathered his 2 DUI's, my cancer and severe health problems, two children, unemployment, everything."

Who exactly was taking care of the kids the household etc during the cancer and health problems.



"I make 2x as much money as him, pay all the bills because his $ is for beer,gas, lunch money."  

Has this always been the case and how long ago did it change.



"What is the point of him working? I almost think I am very afraid of getting cancer again and being by myself (my family offered me little support this last time)."

Why and how did your family offer little support, what other health problems do you have?
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for all your comments. I think I have to at minimum look at separation, maybe that will be the wake up call for him.  I see divorce as the last, last option.
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973741_tn?1342346373
I agree.  If you leave---------  he can no longer deny that his drinking is destroying his life.  He may choose to take recovery seriously at that point.  If he does not, you can not live second to an addiction and divorce would be necessary.  

Sorry you are going through this.  It hurts, I know.   Take care of yourself throughout this and I do think therapy is so helpful for sorting out emotions.  I think it would be a really good idea for you.  And Al Anon is for kids as well if your children are old enough.  This has hurt them as well.  I wish you the very best of luck.  
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Avatar_f_tn
My husband's sister came to stay with us when i had cancer and took care of the kids and house. Enabling him to keep drinking. I still worked full time, through chemo, and drove myself back and forth to treatments. He was there for me as much as he could be, when he was sober. I have always made more money than him, this is not all of a sudden. He blows his money, it is 'fun' money for him while my money is pay the bills money.  He was there for me when I was sick, I chose to go into chemo.  And believe me I thought about not doing it. He doesn't want to stop drinking, and I know he has to want it before he will stop. Serious Sam, i am able and willing to pay for babysitting to go to Alanon, he won't allow it because it is Alanon. He would...Explode.  I could do it for anything else, but not THAT. Because there is no problem with his drinking, in his eyes.  My other health problems is that the Chemo damaged my heart and I have heart failure now, even a simple illness can knock me out. But you all are right, I don't want my kids to grow up into dependency/co dependency.
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Avatar_m_tn
Try this then move out and do family counseling with the idea that it can will turn into family divorce counseling unless he starts making changes.

I hate giving absolute advice on things like this because a person who tells a story can only tell there story with any degree of accuracy and most people try to justify their own actions.

No offense all people do that to some degree.

But if you have to transition since you have kids it should be done in a way that damages the family as a whole the least.  Plus you have a stake in him getting his act together even if you divorce.  After all your say in the kids lives pretty much ends if and when you die.
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973741_tn?1342346373
Your very last post tells me the story of dysfunction in this family.  Your reaction to have cancer in which you question treatment due to the unhappiness in your life makes me further believe that this situation is toxic on many levels.  

You saying that he would "explode" if you went to Al Anon also speaks very loudly to his disease level and his ability to seek rehabilitation.  He is entrenched in a life of lies and deceit even to himself.  Your going to Al Anon is acknowledging an issue and he isn't even willing to do that.  That does not bode well for his future.  I'm not trying to hurt you or scare you but overcoming an addiction is hard hard work under the best of circumstances and most proactive attitude.  

He has not contributed that much in this relationship.  He's drunk about half the week and useless, he doesn't contribute financially, and I don't know what you think he does to support you on a sober day beyond being there.  Again, not trying to hurt you but in what you've said here-------- this is my impression.

I've loved two alcoholics in my life.  A close family member and a boyfriend.  I drove them both to a rehabilitation facility and told them that they check themselves in or they will never see me again.  Both checked in.  One got sober and the other still isn't.  I've not seen the other in 20 years and am thankful that I never tied my life to his.  It never would have been a healthy relationship no matter how much I loved him and how nice he was when sober.  I am telling this because I do understand your pain.  I do know what it is like to walk away.  I wasn't married to the person nor did I have children with them----------  but I think children would make me even more protective of a healthy lifestyle.  

I also am concerned for your mental health, saying that in the nicest way.  Under the circumstances, I find myself wondering if you don't have some depression going on.  With your health conditions it is very important to keep yourself healthy in this regard because so much of our physical health is affected by our mental health.  I would recommend a therapist even more than I did previously.  

Good luck
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134578_tn?1404951303
I agree with specialmom on this.  If two adults are in a relationship, so what if there is co-dependency or anything else, they can mess up their own emotional lives with no harm to anyone else.  But when there are children, this stuff is role models for them.

Just read some of the "adult children of alcoholics" material to see the patterns.  Kids feel like they have to tolerate things like being afraid that the dad will explode if certain things happen or him being blotto on the sofa, because their survival depends on it.  They don't get to see any role modeling of standing up for the basic human dignity that everyone deserves in relationships, so no wonder they often wind up in similar situations as adults.  

In another post a while back, we were discussing whether a woman should leave her husband, a concern for her because there were kids in the picture.  Someone wrote in who had grown up in an alcoholic household, and said she could attest from experience that being without the dad was not the worst thing that could happen.  

This relationship, no matter what it is to you, Nelly, is harmful to the kids as it stands.  He might (outside chance) change if you leave, but he will never change if you stay.
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Avatar_m_tn
Like I said "Family Counseling"  If the pilot (in this case mom) may have to leave the plane(die and leave her family) she needs to make sure the copilot husband is ready
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you all again. I think I will just make a stand and tell him I am going to AlaAnon. His argument against me going before is that it is all male-when he went it probably was, since he was in the court ordered DUI program. He thinks I will pick someone up there! He doesn't want to understand that AlaAnon is for the family.  I am the child of an alcoholic, and my siblings are all screwed up, that is why they weren't there for me when I had cancer (one used to call-to ask for money). Some of you suggested family counseling which I will seek. I know I have a lot of issues regardng anger about my illnesses, family, etc.  My ins. only pays for 4 sessions but I will look for other places I can go.  My parents love my husband because he is so like my dad.  An alcoholic too. My mom says she went through the same stuff with my dad. We are married through the Catholic church so I have that pressure to to not divorce.  But I have to do what is right for me and my kids. Thank you all so much for your advice, friends and family are too close and can't be objective, it is better to have people who are removed from the situation.
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973741_tn?1342346373
So sad.  This IS a pattern that so often repeats.  You grew up with it and married into it.  I know you don't want that for your kids.  You will have to end the cycle and be honest with them about their father. So much pain can addiction inflict---- on everyone.  Good luck.
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Avatar_m_tn
If their is love, problems, and no or little threat (I don't think she said he has hurt anyone in ten years of marriage_)  I think it is god for the kids to see parents try to fix things as adults as opposed to cutting and running,
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973741_tn?1342346373
Agreed but the cycle of addiction is a little different.  Case in point, this lovely poster.  She came from a home such as she is living in now.  Her father was an alcoholic.  Her husband is now an alcoholic.  Unfortunately, the rules of dealing with addiction are different than other problems within a marriage.  It truly becomes an ingrained pattern.  In fact, I recommend that the nice lady posting seek some help for her codependent role as she is likely to repeat this pattern if she enters into another relationship.  It is that common to repeat the pattern that she could do it all over again if she doesn't proactively break the cycle.  It is part of her psyche and it started in her childhood growing up with an alcoholic father.  

This wouldn't matter if it were a man writing this, the advice would be the same.  
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134578_tn?1404951303
Sam, I often agree with your postings, but you said the father has not hurt anyone in ten years of marriage.  He has hurt the poster so much that she wondered if she should bother to seek treatment for cancer or just let it take her, and as for the kids, it is awful having to tiptoe around the elephant in the room (the elephant being daddy's condition).  Love is fine, but they aren't going to see two adults working to fix a problem if this man does not acknowledge that there is a problem and does not act like an adult to fix it.  She has to wake him to the fact that he might lose it all.
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Avatar_m_tn
The part I posted was regarding doing therapy with him.  When he is sober he does try.  I think she can probably live through therapy with her husband while not living in the same household.   If she really is as close to dying as she stated family or divorce therapy would be good for arranging things for the kids.

As to whether a MAN acknowledges a problem is irrelevant as in this case BOTH ADULTS have problems that they need to work on.

Also I am still confused in that if he has always been an alcoholic what she saw in him to begin with since she said she has always made more than him.

I think if they work things out if his drinking is this bad that they maybe switch to a different financial arrangement.
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Avatar_m_tn
And I did mention moving out if you reread my post.
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973741_tn?1342346373
Alcoholism is progressive by nature.  I think it is okay for a woman to say she has put up with enough.  And as his attitude thus far has been very resistant, I fear that he will not choose recovery in the end.  I hope he does for all involved.  Any wife that describes her husband as exploding in anger and that she can not attend something with the excuse being that there are mainly men there and she is not to be in that environment . . . well, there are a LOT of issues there.  I've seen an alcoholic during his sober moments------ they usually have a lot of physical and emotional problems.  

And his acknowledging he has a problem is the only way it will ever be addressed.  In fact, during family week at a treatment center---------  each family member faces the alcoholic and rails on them for the pain they've caused.  They HAVE to acknowledge all aspects to it or they don't get better.  So indeed, he must acknowledge that his drinking has ruined his marriage and damaged his children.  And it has.  

Wishing the poster much luck and strength as she deals with this difficult time.  
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Avatar_m_tn
I wish her luck to and wish to mention once again my answer would be different if children were not involved.
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285927_tn?1380802356
Taking into consideration, that your hubby is an alcoholic who does not seem to want to be free of his addiction, your depression, co dependency, and health issues. Wow, these children are being subjected to a whole lot of education and not the good kind. I think you are going to have to offer up tough love. I would have a talk with him and tell him how you feel and simply tell him it is me or the booze. You choose, but I married you and am living with alcohol. He can either get help or he can leave. His choice. But he must know that you are serious and if you are not then do not have that conversation with him. Because if you lay down laws and dont follow thru, it is simply the same as saying I didnt mean it. We are all basically self serving and will hang on to what we love the most. Can you handle the fact that it might be the alcohol he chooses? That is the question of the day.
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Avatar_f_tn
Separation may not help him  but it will definitely help you and the children. I walked in your shoes for over 37 years. What I know and accept now is I enabled him. I knew this for 30 years but thought I was to blame and looking back I learned this behavior as my parents did the same. After many separations and always making excuses as to why we should try again in spite of serial cheating, verbal abuse and now use of blackouts to excuse the constant relapse of bad behaviour I am finally divorcing this functional alcoholic to begin the life I deserve and always planned to have. Please don't trap yourself in this relationship for the children, fear of being alone etc..realize you have always been alone in this marriage. I used every excuse because I loved him, he is charming and of course everybody's idea of a great guy who supported his wife and famiy. Fact was I paid for everything. He even became overtly religious using even that to keep up face and creating church emergency meetings in order to either get drunk, spend tme at a strip club or sleep with whatever was the new "girl" of the day. But got up every day to go to work. Take a deep look at yourself, know and believe he can only fix himself and believe that taking that step to distance yourself will require all your courage. Know once you leave he will lie that he loves you and do anything to get his enabler back because for once he will have to recognize he can't control himself, uses alcohol to mask his own low self esteem or mental illness and really loves and thinks he gets more from his love of drink than you or his children. I wish you peace and good health.
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Avatar_n_tn
I can totally empathize with you. My wife has been my partner for 16 years. Her drinking has been driving our relatioship into the ground. Now it's reached a point of no return I believe. I love her so much and would do anything for her. My life is empty without her in it and I just don't know what to do. Divorce is probably imminent, something I don't want but probably inevidable. I share your pain hope that you find an answer and peace. I have a hard time letting go of someone I love so dearly. By the way, when she doesn't drink she is a kind, warm, loving woman. And I am losng her
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973741_tn?1342346373
Hi there and welcome.  Have you considered going to an Al Anon meeting?  I think that would be very very helpful to you.  good luck and peace
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