My husband and I have been married for 12 years. When we first met we partied and had a good time. I slowed down on my partying our first year of marriage in anticipation of starting a family he did not. After four years of marriage we had our son and then our daughter a year later. I stayed home with our children until they went to school and he worked outside the home. In 2003 my husband and I both starting working for my father. Four years later, we assumed ownership of his business. It is a small business and we have dreams of growing it into something big.

My problem is that he abuses alcohol. A typical week is he drinks 12-18 beers on a Tuesday evening. Then he may or may not come to work the next day. If he does make it in to work he comes in at around noon or 1 p.m. Then he does the same thing on Thursday evening and again on Saturdays. I always wanted to be the wife who did not harp on her husband about his drinking so I just let it happen for years. Previously when he did this he had a regular job and he would reserve the drinking for the weekends. He does not go to bars or drink and drive. He does not drink in the house he stays outside until 10 or 11 p.m. The children don’t really know what he is doing, but I have noticed they are starting make comments about him staying outside for so long and how he sleeps all the time.

He claims that drinking is his release from stress and that I should be happy that he is not a mean drunk and that we are doing ok financially. Well my problem is that we will not be successful if this continues. I have to constantly cover for him with my dad who is now “just an employee” of the business. My dad knows what is going on, but does not want to interfere in our personal affairs.

In the past six months I have started to make him more aware that I am not happy with the drinking and missing work. I have always let him know that I don’t think it is necessary to drink that much and he needs to find something else to de-stress. He says there is not a problem and just avoids the subject. I guess I have become increasingly angry and confrontational about his drinking, but I feel I have the right to let him know I don’t agree and if he continues to do the same thing I am going to let him know that I hate it!

Now he says that if I’m not going to show him my love he is going to move out!! I do love him, but his drinking drives me mad! I don’t think it is fair that his only responsibilities are to go to work and then come home and half the time he doesn’t even go to work. I do all the child rearing, house cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. I think I have let him become lazy and he just does not know how to do anything else but what he has done for years.

We have had problems in the past and he will not even entertain the idea of counseling he says our relationship is private and will remain so. I cannot even discuss these issues with anyone because he claims it is not anyone’s business and I’m just trying to make him look bad. He says when he talks about me to anyone he only talks about positive things. I just don’t know what to do. I want to save this marriage, but it is becoming extremely stressful and challenging. Please help!

A: Out of love for your husband, the desire not to be a nag, and perhaps in the hope that this would all go away, you have inadvertently supported your husband’s alcoholism. Make no mistake: Your husband is an alcoholic. He may not be a “mean drunk” but he can’t seem to go without drinking regularly and he is now jeopardizing his marriage, his business, his relationship with his children, and your financial stability. You have awakened to the potentially dire consequences of continuing on as you have been. Nonetheless, he has somehow managed to convince you that to get help is a betrayal of him and that you are the one with the problem. Please hold onto the truth that it is his drinking that is the problem. Your panic is absolutely justifiable.

My best advice is that you contact Al-Anon for Families of Alcoholics (1 800 344 2666) and locate a meeting near you. Al-Anon can provide you with the information and support you need to begin to turn this situation around.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Husband’s drinking is putting family at risk.. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/01/30/husbands-drinking-is-putting-family-at-risk/