drunkto salvage relationship with alcoholic for kids’ sake.

By Marguerite Kelly.

Thursday, September 30, 2010; GZ14

Q. My husband is a drunk and I don’t know what to do about it.

He drinks three tall beers every night. I know it’s not all that much beer, but it’s enough to get him drunk and then he tends to be an idiot and run his mouth.

When I ran off with another guy — just to prove a point — he promised me that he would quit. But two weeks later he was drinking again. This managed to get our three kids, who are 3 1/2 , 2 1/2 and 1, taken from us and placed under the temporary custody of my parents.

How do I get my husband to realize that his kids are more important than his beer? He won’t listen to me when I talk to him about it but just yells and blames me for his drinking problem.

He also won’t look for a job, so we are staying with his mother and living on the $167 he draws from unemployment every week. Now, after 3½ years of marriage, I don’t want to be with him anymore, so I’m looking for a job and have applied for disability. When I receive it, I will be totally gone.

A. Be careful how far and how fast you go.

Babies are fun to make. But once made, you have to care for them for 18 years even if you’d rather run off with some guy and your husband would rather sit around drinking beer, which can cause even more trouble.

When the government studied 43,000 alcoholics, researchers were surprised to find that most of them only had mild to moderate cases that went away in a few years, and that only 10 percent had severe cases that seriously affected their work and their relationships.

If this is the stage your husband has reached, he probably won’t stop drinking no matter how much you nag him, nor can he quit for long on his own.

He may be an alcoholic because he started drinking in his mid- to late teens, before his brain could handle alcohol properly, or because it runs in the family. Anyone who has had an alcoholic parent, aunt, uncle or sibling is four times more likely to become an alcoholic.

Or perhaps your husband is an alcoholic because he is clinically depressed or he’s trying to mask the pain and the shame he feels about his drinking and his life.

Or maybe he’s upset because the children make too much noise or too much mess, as children often do. Each child (and each puppy and even each goldfish) adds stress to a household and sometimes it adds more stress than a parent can handle.

Although you may have to get a divorce eventually, you should first try to rescue your husband and your relationship; for his sake, for your sake and particularly for the sake of your children. They have the right to grow up in a stable home with two loving parents if possible.

It’s important to help your husband, but it’s even more important to help your babies. Visit them every day if you can but if you can’t do that, you should call them each day,

Skype them if you have a computer and help your parents in any way you can. It can’t be easy for them to take over the care and feeding of three small children and to do it so suddenly.

You’ll help your husband best if you go to three or four Al-Anon meetings but at different sites so you can find the group that’s right for you. Here you’ll realize that you’re not alone and that these new friends can help you deal with your husband’s alcoholism and maybe get him to go to join Alcoholics Anonymous.

Its camaraderie, support and spirituality may give him the courage to quit but he’ll probably get more help from CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training). This non-confrontational method supports the family beautifully, gets more people into treatment than any other group and has the highest success rate of all.

Kelly is a freelance writer. Questions? Send them to © 2010 Washington Post



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