Posted by: Purple | 2019/07/15


Hi CS, Hope you are well. I wrote to you a while back regarding the state of my marriage. We are still going to counselling and it has certainly made home life more pleasant. However, my husband denies he is an alcoholic and although he has reduced his consumption dramatically, no longer passes out all over the house or starts ridiculous arguments, he is still drinking and is still secretive about it. His tolerance level is extremely low and it takes very little for me to notice that he has been drinking. I no longer bother to get upset by this and just carry on with my life. The problem is though that my feelings for him have gone from being those towards a house mate who I didn't get along with to those of a house mate I get along better with. He is exercising and taking better care of himself and he's participating in the children's lives more and he is helping me with their lift arrangements and paying for things for them, all of which have been things I have raised in counselling. However, he has said we spend no time together as a family and blames me for this due to my volunteer work, but has done nothing to plan anything despite me making time available. He also rejects my suggestions, so I stopped making any. I know that I want to leave the relationship. However, I am just terrified for the effect on my children. Both are kind and sensitive. I know things have affected them but at the same time, i worry they will be worse off without their dad. He may choose still to be part of their lives or he may spiral out of control worse without me being there as a hand brake. I gave him an ultimatum of getting outside help for his drinking and he has not done so despite this and the strong recommendation of our counselor to do so, and her assistance in giving him information and contacts. Is it so bad that I should be ripping my children's lives apart? Am I being selfish wanting to have my own life without him and tearing their family apart? I just want a real adult to come and tell me what to do. I know nobody can do that though. I'm writing lists of pros and cons and they balance, so now I just feel worse.

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Our expert says:
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- 2019/07/16

Hello Purple,
Good to hear from you again : and to hear that counseling is bearing fruit in at least some ways. That he has managed to reduce his alcohol intake could be promising, but he apparently still shows features very typical of an alcoholic, the steady denial that he might be alcoholic, and apparently secret and solitary drinking.  It is promising that he is taking better care of himself and his health.  When you mention his tolerance level being noticeably low, one wonders whether he may have started developing liver damage, which can have this effect. Would he be open to the suggestion, as part of his own demonstrated greater self care, that he should see a good GP or physician for a thorough checkup, which would include liver function tests.  The liver can be remarkably forgiving up to a point, but then the degree of damage accumulates. affecting consciousness, concentration, and just general brain function.
I respect your concern for how any changes might affect your children.  But do bear in mind that in some situations, there may be no happy, great for the kids, option : one may need to search for what would be most likely, in the long run, to be the least harmful, or the one they with your support, could best cope with.  There is often no option that leaves them unaware of much of what's going on : they usually notice more than we think they do. A father who sets a bad example may sometimes be as harmful as an absent father seen occasionally when he is well enough.
Of course there is nothing wrong with you wanting to maximize the quality of life of yourself and the children. You're a real enough adult to advise yourself with sufficient wisdom.

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