Q: We’ve been married for almost 4 years, no children. I love him very much and work towards a trusting loving solid responsible relationship with him. He is a workaholic and over-exerts himself ALL the time. He drinks and hides it throughout the house, he denies drinking, he rarely remembers drinking or treating me so badly while he’s drunk. Ive been advised all the standards: al-anon, AA for him, marriage counceling, substance-abuse counceling, psychologists, psychiatrists, books, medicatoin, etc… Our problems dont get resolved because my husband’s expertise is in the psychology, counceling, therapist profession. He wont let anyone help him or us! He practices all the stuff you reccomend, but he still drinks and lies. Im a strong believer that self-diagnosis & treatment doesnt work. We have a breathalizer in the only car we have, he’s spent time in jail for his DUI, and Im falling apart in the meantime. He’s blamed me for his drinking, denies he’s an alcoholic, and sometimes I wonder if he’s “messing with my head” to make me 2nd-guess my own judgement. Its a rollercoaster with him loving me so tenderly one moment, then I find alcohol stashed in the bathroom (or bedroom or livingroom, the backyard) and Im at a point where I cant help but flip-out. He then says because I yell, Im causing him to drink. My father is an alcoholic and Im already very sensitive to the abuse. My husband lies to me just too easily. Additionally he hides porn and watches it on the internet. He completely denies it even if I catch him in the middle of having phone sex. I was not aware of any of this before we got married. His dishonesty has brought me to checking his computer and email. Im embarrassed of this, but I seek truth. I always find it and he always has a lame explaination. He never owns up to it. I dont feel I ever believe him anymore, I just try to believe him. He tells me things like, “if im hiding something on my computer- id change my passwords.” or “if i didnt love you, id have left a long time ago.” or “if i really didnt want you to know I was drinking, you wouldnt know.” etc. etc. He’s a very intelligent man, he can outsmart me. He plays the pyschologist-card often in our relationship, often making me feel like he’s not in the marriage, he’s trying to councel it. Am I crazy to think there is hope in trusting him again? Are there doctors out there trained to deal w/stubborn-know-it-alls from their own profession? The only counceling session we managed to go to together, ended in him grilling the doc and so I sat sitting in a room with two therapits rather than my husband.

A: I had a similar question from a man who is married to a pshchiatrist just the other day. Unfortunately, someone can be smart enough to earn the degrees to be in the helping professions but not have the intellectual honesty and emotional courage that the job requires.
Bottom line is that your husband is an alcoholic in denial and an addictive personality in general. He plays mind games with you and rationalizes his behaviors to himself. He dazzles therapists with his professional brilliance or puts them on the defensive to distract them from getting down to business. It’s too bad that the last therapist fell for it.

You are not going to be successful in changing the situation as long as you focus on changing this manipulative, self-involved man. The only person you have any power over is yourself. Please find a local Al-anon group and start going to meetings. They have a well-established program to help wives and others who love addicts distance from the disease and take care of themselves. It would also probably be helpful for you to find a therapist for yourself who is experienced with addictive behaviors. I think you need someone in your corner who can help you learn to hold your own when your husband is blaming you. You are not responsible for his drinking — ever. At some point, you will have some difficult decisions to make about whether you want to spend your life with someone who is more interested in outsmarting you than in making a good marriage.
I’m terribly sorry that your marriage is so disappointing and that you are not getting the love and respect your deserve. I hope your husband wakes up before it’s too late.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie