26 Sep
Punch Drunk Love

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My husband is an alcoholic. He’s also very jealous and possessive. He’s taken our grocery budget and spent in on booze. He’s done some faulty things with loose women. If it were up to him, I would be trapped at home 24/7, and he gets angry if I go out and have fun without him.

Recently, I went out for a girls’ night, and my husband agreed to stay home with our two year old son.   After I left however, he promptly invited friends over and drank like a fish out of water. He then called me to say that he couldn’t get our son to sleep and decided to let our friend drive him around drunk!

I was beyond mortified and furious! Long story short, when I confronted our friend he told me that he wasn’t drunk, didn’t drive anywhere, and that my husband was lying about it to get me home early. He even bragged about how fast he could make me skip out on Girls’ Night.

But the twist is he’s a great father. He didn’t have a father growing up, and its very important to him to be an active part of our son’s life. They have a great relationship, and he’s my son’s best friend, hands down.

I can’t afford counseling so please don’t suggest it; I’m on food stamps as is. Can I fix our broken marriage? Should I even bother? I dream that we could be an old couple celebrating 50 years together. But now, I’m not so sure what to do. Help!

Signed,

Tired. Tried. Teary Eyed.

___________________________________

Dear Tired. Tried. Teary Eyed.,

Let me get this straight:

1. Your husband is emotionally abusive and manipulative.

2. He spends his son’s food money on booze because he’s a raging alcoholic.

3. His fidelity is in question.

4. And he thinks it’s funny to JOKE about DRUNK DRIVING with a TWO YEAR OLD?

This answer is so crystal clear to me that it almost reminds me of Mediterranean waters (just with added sadness and despair):

YOU NEED TO GET OUT. Move, divorce him, whatever. But you need to get your son out of this environment posthaste.

You may think your husband is a fantastic father, but if he were, he wouldn’t have used that night alone with his little boy to party with his friends; he would’ve spent some quality time with the child. And in addition to endangering the welfare of your son by getting drunk while watching him (omfg), he’s also a terrible role model for the boy. I’ve heard it put this way: would you want your son growing up to be your husband? If not, he’s not   father material. (If you need further convincing, look up a book called Adult Children of Alcoholics. Your husband may think he’s being a part of his son’s life, but when he’s drunk, he’s not actually THERE and this will have lasting detrimental effects.)

Sure, he may be plagued with alcoholism, but you are actually enabling the disease by bending your life to fit around his destructive lifestyle. If you want to try to get him help, go for it. (There’s also Al-Anon for you, and they’re free!) But know that he’s got to want it for himself if it’s ever going to work. No ones to say that you can’t patch things up while he’s clean, but for now, he needs to get on the wagon before you can even THINK about next week, not to mention the next fifty years.

Run, don’t walk,

Kristine, TMH

 

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36 Responses to “Punch Drunk Love”

09.26.11#1

Comment by Rusty Hoe.

Kristine is giving you perfect, if hard to hear, advice. Growing up with an alcoholic father I can tell you he was absent every day even though physically he was there. What you describe isn’t fathering and five minutes of ‘good times’ doesn’t outweigh the rest of the crap you deal with. I know as a child I craved my fathers attention and wanted to spend time with him, it seemed like we were best mates. But that’s how kids deal with the abandonment of alcoholism. You learn to look past the crap, to make excuses, to highlight the fleeting moments of good. It leaves you with a warped view of the the world and love. Even at his young age it has already left an imprint though he may not be able to articulate it. Its taken me a long time to get over all of the baggage from my childhood, if you have a chance to spare yourself and your son that, take it.

09.26.11#2

Comment by Amy.

Of course your son loves his father, every 2 yr old boy loves his dad. But do you think your husband is a good role model for your son? It doesn’t sound like it. There is no excuse to subject a child to this. I am a daughter of an alcoholic. My dad loved me. I know that he did, he just could not properly care for me because of the alcoholism. It was just me & my dad (my mother lived 5 hours away). It was great when he was sober, but for the most part it was hell. My dad would stay gone overnight (drinking & gambling). There were times I was sick & he wouldn’t come home. There were times that we would be on vacation at the beach with family & he would get so drunk that he would fall out of his chair & into the sand, with waves lapping up on him. I was afraid he would drown. I remember crying from fear & embarrassment while family members tried to comfort me. I bare serious emotional scars from growing up this way. I’ve spent a fortune in therapy. Alcoholism is no state in which to raise a child. It was horrible for me. I still have nightmares about my drunken father now at age 35. Please, get your son out of that environment. You husband is incapable of being a good father in this state. Please take Kristine’s advice. I beg of you. Your son deserves a stable home to grow up in.

09.26.11#3

Comment by vodka tonic.

“The twist is he’s a great father.”

There’s no twist with that. You are not thinking clearly. You’re too wrapped up in hoping this “happily-ever-after” dream will come true. It isn’t. You are the only one working on it. He isn’t.

Your fairy tale dream will never come true. He is not a great father (or husband). He is a manipulative drunk. Your only dream right now should be in building the most stable childhood for your son. Wake up, get out, take your son, empty out your share of the bank account, open your own account, close your joint credit cards, call a lawyer, get a job.

Otherwise, in 50 years, you will be gazing resentfully at a bloated drunk (or his headstone). Your son will be grown and gone, damaged from growing up in this environment that you were empowered to leave from, and didn’t.

I was married to a drunk for five years. Let’s talk. I will give you Tough Love. fraujoolie at that google mail place.

09.26.11#4

Comment by Desperate Dietwives.

I can only agree with all of the above: GET OUT OF THAT MARRIAGE WITH YOUR SON A.S.A.P.!!! There’s no use in waiting for anything.

And don’t feel guilty (your husband will try to make you feel guilty): HE is the one responsible for it. Move out and make it clear to him that IF and WHEN he does something for his alcoholism you might let him see the child, otherwise this will be out of the question. Great father my foot!!!

Good luck.

09.26.11#5

Comment by Plano Mom.

Please, please try to contact your local resources for domestic violence. For many places, a call to the local police will put you in the right direction. They will put you in touch with resources to help you get out of this immediate relationship, and get you the therapy you need so you can understand what your husband must do to have anything close to a normal relationship.

I’ll bet you’re thinking “but I’m not being abused, he doesn’t hit.” You may not be in a violent situation as you think of it, but you are in a situation that is not mutually empowering and positive. He’s the only one having fun. Everyone is spot on that you must act NOW to leave. You cannot solve this problem for your husband, and cannot have the relationships you want, until you can get away from the so very wrong relationship that is happening now.

If you can’t think of this as an end to the bad relationship for you and your son, try to think of it as the first step to making the changes you need in order to be open to the possibility of a future with him. It must be this way; you can’t solve this by staying there and waiting for him to change.

09.26.11#6

Comment by Cate8.

RUN.
if you stay you will regret it.
don’t worry about the money or your husband’s feelings.
he loves his alcohol and controling you.

09.26.11#7

Comment by Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes.

I have nothing more to add to all the advice given above.
Do not stay in this marriage and get the child out before it is too late.

09.26.11#8

Comment by Katie.

Both my mom and dad are alcoholics. My dad was active in all of my childhood activities, and he loves me with all his heart, but it all comes with a price. Same with my mom. I’ve been in Al-anon for years dealing with the issues of being a child of alcoholics. Trust me. Your son needs you to protect him. That’s YOUR job. Without the clarity of sobriety and therapy, your husband has nothing to offer. And I promise you, not only will your son hate your husband for choosing booze over him, he’ll resent you for allowing him to be subjected to that.

Furthermore, children are products of their environment. Show your son how to be strong and independent and to have self-respect and self-worth!

I wouldn’t wish being trapped with an addict on my worst enemy.

09.26.11#9

Comment by suburbancorrespondent.

What they all said…be brave enough to leave. You will find help and you will make it.

09.26.11#10

Comment by Old Hag.

Kate’s comment is spot on! I am an adult child of an alcoholic and it has affected EVERYTHING in my life. I loved my parents but had little respect for them. I lived in FEAR everyday of my life. I am 60 years old and the emotional pain I lived as a child is still there.
Please find a way to leave this situation now. Remember how you felt the night you thought drunks were driving your son around in a car? Use that memory to give you the strength to leave. You have taken the first step by asking for advice here. Continue to go forward to free yourself and your son Alanon is a place to start. Good luck and God Bless you.

09.26.11#11

Comment by Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him.

So hard to read. I can’t imagine how hard this is to live.

You need to get away from this way man. He doesn’t respect you or your son even if he loves you.

09.26.11#12

Comment by StephanieG.

I can’t add a single thing to what’s been said above. I am the firstborn child of an alcoholic, and I, like the others before me, felt the fear and shame and resentment of living with a parent who was a drunk.

I am 44 and my dad has been gone for five years. I still resent him, and to some extent my mother, who stood by him through thick and thin. She thought that was what was best for her three kids, but by staying, we never had the chance to see how a normal adult relationship functions.

You’re not doing your son any favors by keeping him in that environment. Get out, and do it now.

If you feel you must stay, you’ve got to set some boundaries, and then stick to them. Counseling can be found for free through churches and social service organizations. Alcoholics Anonymous is free, as is Al-Anon. If you’re going to let him stay in your life, you truly need to get yourself and your son some help. And insist that your husband do the same.

Good luck to you. Please write back and let us know how you’re doing….

09.26.11#13

Comment by Marinka, TMH.

I absolutely agree with Kristine’s advice.

He may be nice to your son, but if he’s being an asshole to you, he’s not a good father.

09.26.11#14

Comment by Angela.

Someone call DCF. The father is a complete loser who should be immediately sterilized and the mother is not bright enough to realize that not only is he not a good father, but he is a danger to the son. Permits to breed, people.

Old Hag Reply:

Where is your empathy Angela? Your comment just confirmed for her that she needs to stay because people will call her stupid for being in the situation in the first place.
Yes, she may be young and yes she may not be “bright” but I will guarantee you she is desperate and scared. On the other hand she could be your cousin or your niece or your sister or your best friend. We all make mistakes in our lives and compassion, empathy and sound advice from other woman can help us do the right thing. Name calling never helps.

Angela Reply:

My empathy flew out the window when she started defending his behavior with “but he’s such a good father”. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that a man who is willing to booze away the money you use to feed your child doesn’t exactly qualify as father of the year. I see no mention of abuse or fear of leaving. What I do see is someone so desperate to cling to a fantasy of living happily ever after, that she is willing to overlook the damage he is doing to her child.

You are right, we do all make mistakes. Hers was having a child with a cheating alcoholic. Now it’s time for her to pick herself up and get the hell out of this relationship for the sake of her child. I personally could care less if she wants to stick with him and spend her days at the free clinic, trying to figure out what STD he’s given her this week, but this is really no life for a child, not to mention the example she is allowing him to set.

I'm a big ol' b with a captial B! Reply:

I’d really hate to be Angela’s kids, husband, family or friends. Then again, I don’t normally friend people who are so quick to judge or spew hate.

Angela Reply:

You’re right. I’ll just sit here and judge her for being a grown ass woman who made the choice to have a child with someone who should never have been allowed to breed. You can hold her hand and tell her it’s not her fault.

Maybe she needs someone to tell her to grow the fuck up, get the hell away from this loser, set an example for her son that she can be proud of (because, like it or not, she is setting an example for him and right now that example is to stay in a crappy situation, no matter what, because doing the right thing is hard and might take some effort and sacrifice.)and stop defending his actions. Lots of people grew up without fathers and still managed to avoid boozing away their child’s lunch money.

09.26.11#15

Comment by Brattus Rattus.

My brother is an alcoholic and he has an 11 year old daughter. He’s always home but he’s also always drunk. He makes promises to her when he’s hammered and doesn’t remember that he made them. It leads to lots of heartache. My SIL is there, too but she’s never really “present” because she’s doing her own thing and resenting my brother.

My sweet 11 year old niece has taken to stealing and lying. I know it’s to get attention. She’s not getting the right kind of love and I see her gearing up to slam into a wall.

Don’t let this happen to your kid. Get a plan together. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your child.

Marinka, TMH Reply:

This just breaks my heart.

Brattus Rattus Reply:

Me and you both.

09.26.11#16

Comment by Kristine.

I appreciate everyone sharing their compelling stories. Alcoholism can hurt so many people, and watching it happen to children is the absolute worst.

09.26.11#17

Comment by RealityTC.

You are teaching your son that it’s ok to be an abusive asshole. If that’s what you’re going for then carry on.

Angela Reply:

Amen!

09.26.11#18

Comment by Kristi.

Deep down inside, you knew that this was the advice you would receive. The safety of you and your child is your TOP priority.
I hope you were packing as you read this post…

09.26.11#19

Comment by tammigirl.

I wish I could take you to lunch, give you hugs, and bake cookies with you. I’ve been exactly where you are. Except I had three more children and stayed for fifteen years. If he’s being abusive now (and he is) it is only going to get worse as time passes.

I finally left, way later than I should have. It took a lot for me to leave because I had resolved myself to the situation and thought the same way you are thinking “He’s great with the kids” (that changed as they got older)

You aren’t thinking clearly because you can not possibly think clearly while you are in this situation. It will take a while away from it until you can.

I finally got an order of protection and got away from him.

A year later I met someone wonderful quite by accident. We just celebrated our tenth anniversary. My life is unrecognizable as the same life.

Happily ever after can happen for you, just not with this man.

A thousand prayers go up for you.

09.26.11#20

Comment by Cheryl.

Was raised by an alcoholic dad and a mother who desperately needed Al-Anon. They were each raised by alcoholics. One brother got sober while the other did not. He & his wife (who needed Al-Anon) raised 2 sons (20 & 22 now) who are a mess. My 37-yo niece is an addict whose 19, 13, & 11 year old children are completely screwed up from all they’ve been through.

Put your oxygen mask on, put your son’s oxygen mask on, and get out. Unless your husband wants to be sober more than he wants to be drunk, he ain’t gonna change. One of the first things that dies as a result of alcoholism is dreams. Please don’t let your sons childhood die too.

09.26.11#21

Comment by danielle.

This makes me very very sad. I hope you get out. There are a ton of programs in place to help you. Don’t be ashamed of reaching out. Save yourself and your son.

09.26.11#22

Comment by Jayme.

My father was an alcoholic. Luckily for us (and for him), he got clean when we were still young enough for him to repair the damage he did while he was drinking. Wake up call: your husband is NOT a good father. He is emotionally incapable of caring enough about another person to be a good anything. He is a drunk. He is in the throes of an awful, destructive, and dangerous addiction. And while you have the experience and mental acuity to separate the person you know (or think) he can be from the person he is, your son does not. Children are smart, they are observant. You may think you have sheltered him from the worst of it, but I am here to tell you, that is just not possible. The longer you stay with this man, and the longer you expose your child to his poison, the more damage you will do. Without intervention, your husband is not going to just stop. Or maintain. He WILL get worse. His addiction WILL progress. And he WILL hurt you, or your son, or both.

I was 6 when my dad quit drinking, so the majority of my memories are of the most amazing father a girl could possibly want. But I also have some of the bad memories too. Those don’t go away, we were just able to drown them out. My dad
died last year. He had been sober for 24 years. Before the cancer took him to a place we couldn’t reach, before the pain and pain medication shut down his mind, he apologized for not being a good father in the beginning. He called it his one regret. And 24 years had passed. Get out, for the sake of your son.

09.26.11#23

Comment by Ruth.

I cannot word it better then those before me. I have no experience with alcoholism, but I can see when a wife is trying to take up for a husband that is less then par.
I get mad enough at my husband for playing video games while he’s “babysitting” our son. If he DARED to get drunk with friends around my son, he would be out, penniless, on his ass.
I am so sorry you have to go through this. I just hope you get out before his drunkenness physically harms your dear son.
My friend is married to a guy who slammed her daughter’s head into the wall. I told her to leave, but she hasn’t yet because she’s scared to be on her own. I know it’s hard, you’re scared, but you HAVE to take care of your children. You WILL find someone who YOU deserve.
Love and strength to you.

mtwildflower Reply:

I hope child services was aware of what he did to his daughter. They were, right?

09.26.11#24

Comment by Kelly.

Just wanted to point out that the only chance you have of giving your son a good, healthy relationship with his dad is to leave. This may be the wakeup call your husband needs to get sober. And IF he gets sober and stays sober for a long, long time, then you can decide if you can have a marriage with him. No matter what you decide, you will have peace of mind knowing your son is safe with a sober dad if/when he spends time with him. And IF this isn’t a wakeup call that your husband needs to get sober, then at least your son will be out of that environment. I come from a family of recovered alcoholics and the alcoholic is the ONLY one who can get themselves sober. It IS possible, but it is HARD. Then again, the life of an alcoholic and their family is HARD too. Prayers and warm thoughts.

09.26.11#25

Comment by Jennifer.

Get yourself to a free al anon meeting asap. There you will receive so much understanding and support. And it’s free!! And as hard as it is get yourself out of this relationship asap. It’s not healthy. And you will start to resent him for the missed opportunities he is keeping you and your precious boy from.

I Have a sober husband. Sober before we met. And I also attend al anon meetings to better understand the disease. Pleasedont enable him, and big hugs to you.

09.27.11#26

Comment by isaidnoh.

My bio-father is an abusive alcoholic. My mom left him when I was 5.5 and my younger sister was 2. I still am dealing with the long-term effects on my self-worth 30 years later, and my sister is an addict.

My mom met my wonderful stepfather when I was 6 or 7, and they married when I was 10. He has his own issues, but actively works on them and is a great grandparent to my sons.

My biofather is 60 and still an actively using addict. He has met each of his grandchildren once each.

There is so much better out there for you. Please, please run. You will feel guilty and it will be hard but for your son and your sanity, please leave.

I also read the blong violence unsilenced – many, many inspiring stories of women who have been in abusive relationships and come out the other side.

09.27.11#27

Comment by Andrea.

Awesome advice, Kristine. I was in an identical situation, and when I realized that my (then two year old) son would grow up thinking it was fine for dads to come home at 2am, pass out, and piss themselves on the couch, it was the kick in the pants I needed to get the hell out, regardless of how hard it might be. That was six years ago, and I’m now wrestling with whether or not to try to terminate his parental rights. He hasn’t changed a bit, but my life and my son’s began improving by leaps and bounds the minute we were out of there. Tired, you need to get out. It may be hard at first, but the alternative is unacceptable.

03.08.12#28

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