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Question
Posted by: Mrs Jones | 2007/05/30

Is drinking grounds for divorce?

Hi there

My husband is perfect 90% of the time. We have a good family life, we always go out weekends with our child, sunday church, family gatherings. He is very close to my parents and he is a wonderful (although very lenient) father. The problem is that when he drinks he becomes another person. He doesn't drink every weekend, maybe once a month or every two months. He becomes irrational and unpredictable. And although he is not physically or verbally abusive to me or our child, when he drinks like that I become anxious. He had an episode during the beginning of this year, after which he promised me that when he drinks, he will not go overboard, which I thought was reasonable. And because he works hard, and everything that is done in and around the house is 50/50, I thought, he can have a drink here and there to relax. I don't have a problem with people who drink, just when it changes your personality and your family don't want to be around you it is a problem. Sunday past was the most recent of these episodes. He was "spinning" around with his car at my moms place, so I went home with our child. When he got home, he reversed into the front of our house, also from spinning the car or whatever it is that guys do when the rev the cars so hard. I want to leave him now. I grew up with a father who drank alot and always came home drunk and picked fights with my mother, and I don't want to give that to my child. I already feel like such a failure for exposing my child to this kind of life. Why didn't I see that he had a problem before we got married. My family thinks we have the best marriage and tell me I am unreasonable for not allowing him that little bit of "relief" as I have a good husband that most woman would want. But I know how my fathers habits messed me up. I don't want to do that to my child, I am afterall responsible for her. And I know my husband doesn't come home and pick fights with me or my daughter, but when he drinks he always wants to drive his car, and very fast... I have my own car, so I never drive with him when he's drunk, but my child saw all this on Sunday and told me "Daddy is going to have an accident because he is driving fast and doesn't have on his seatbelt." Am I being unreasonable?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

He does sound as thouh he has a very significant drinking problem, which needs treatment, and he should be persuaded to see a good local shrink for assessment and specific advice. There are varieties of alcoholism in which the person drinks excessively, njot all the time, but in bouts. And it's just as serious as any other variety.
Don't blame yourself for not having recognized the problem before marriage --- that was hardly something you'd think of then --- buit concentrate on sorting things out now. Have you explained to him, when he is sober, how much this disturbs you, and why you have good reasons for concern ? What is his real attitude --- does he see it as no possible problem ? Or does he recognize that it is indeed troublesome and worth changing ? Have you told him what your child said about the risks of his drunk driving ?
Getting seriously and irresponsibly drunk is NOT simply having some innocent relief or relaxation.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Chelle | 2007/05/30

Your post could have been mine many years ago! My now ex husband also didn't drink often, but after a couple of drinks he changed so much, that his drinking made me very anxious.

He always did stupid things while drinking, and the next day would apologise, and we'd set about fixing all the crap he created. I was always there to help him out and he always promised not to do it again. Then come the next function, it was exactly the same thing.

It got progressively worse over the years - from the once every few months, it became every weekend, and then even during the week and many times he put my children's life in danger by driving with them drunk - without my knowledge! At first he wasn't abusive to me or my children but eventually that changed too. He said and did things that he always apologised for the next day, but at the time, while drunk he would tell me that the truth comes out of a drunk man's mouth, and so that when he apologises the following day, I must know that he really meant what he said. And of course, the next day he would tell me that he really didn't mean it.

The reason I am sharing this, is to just warn you, that it doesn't just stay once or twice a month. When he goes through more stressful times, like perhaps a relationship issue, or work stress, he will turn to drinking, and it will get worse if he doesn't get the right help.

He does have a drinking problem. Drinking is changing his behaviour, it is creating stress in you, and it is affecting your child. I'm not saying divorce him, but you have to encourage him to stop drinking and not cover up for him. Make him accountable for his actions, and if he continues to drink, and keeps making excuses why he drinks, then you will need to seriously consider leaving him for your own peace of mind and sanity.

You're not being concerned for nothing. I used to think too, that because he doesn't do it often, he isn't an alcoholic. I used to see people drinking much more frequently and thought they had problems, yet they never changed in their behaviour - they didn't use alcohol as an escape the way my ex did. He said that drinking was like having a mini holiday - time out from life.

Don't take it lightly - you have every reason to be concerned, and to do what you can to address the situation.

Best wishes!

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