Dear Amy: My wife and I have been together for 17 years. While we have, overall, a very positive marriage, her drinking has become a very large concern and has caused quite a rift between us at times.
Nearly every time she goes out with friends (or even has a day off during the warmer months), she returns home so drunk she can barely function.
We like to attend different kinds of local festivals and such, but even that has become difficult to do because we always end up leaving early after she drinks excessively.
It is embarrassing to pick my wife up off the bathroom floor every weekend. It is embarrassing to try to have a night out with friends that will inevitably be cut short because she is a drunken mess.
I’ve tried too many times to talk about it. Lately when going out I want to keep to things like going to the movies where no alcohol is involved, but she has no interest anymore if there isn’t drinking involved.
I don’t even know how to approach this anymore, and it has pushed me to begin contemplating divorce.
Any advice or help is greatly appreciated.
— Sad and Sober
Sober: As an experienced therapist, you should understand that you are powerless to control your wife’s drinking. And now, you should stop shielding her from the consequences of her drinking.
You need to be brave enough to let things happen.
The next time she lands on the bathroom floor, once you discern that she is physically safe you should simply place a blanket over her so that when she wakes up, she will be faced with the reality of where she spent the night.
Don’t shame her. Don’t “shrink” her. Don’t sugarcoat the impact of her behavior when she is drunk, cover up for her with friends, family, or at work. Stop yourself from strategizing about ways to prevent her from drinking.
Love her tenderly, detach from your desire to control her drinking or its consequences, and acknowledge that alcoholism is a family disease and so you must treat yourself with some self-care.
If you discern that her drinking has too great a negative impact on your own life, then yes — you might tell her that you are contemplating a separation.
Illuminate your own choice: “I don’t want to live like this. Your drinking has overtaken our great relationship. I’m overwhelmed, and so I’m going to have to love you from a distance until something changes.”
This is not you being a “therapist.” This is you acknowledging your own powerlessness over your partner’s addiction and trying to take decent care of yourself.
And — it must be said — get yourself to an Al-Anon meeting (Al-Anon.org). This could be a game changer for you.
Dear Amy: I have never written to you before, but was compelled to reply to the letter from “Worried” who was concerned about her elderly mother-in-law sending money to charities who sent her solicitations.
When my mother was in her senior years and on a low fixed income, she was constantly getting those solicitations, and I never paid much attention until one day she mentioned she just didn’t have enough money to “pay” all of these.
She was interpreting them as bills and felt that they needed to be paid.
Please advise people who experience this with older people to pay close attention to why they are sending money. Feeling charitable is one thing, but feeling impelled to pay a “bill” is quite another.
And some of these solicitations do look like bills, do they not?
Concerned: Yes — some of these charity solicitations do look like bills!
Thank you for illuminating this issue; I hope your mother’s comment will help other families to make sure their elders are giving for the correct reason.
Dear Amy: Regarding the ongoing conversation about the presence of in-laws and other family members present at the birth of a child, I arrived at the hospital 20 minutes after the birth of my second grandchild.
My sister-in-law informed me that I had missed the big event.
Without missing a beat, I said, “Well, I also missed the conception … !”
— Margaret, Long Beach, Calif.
Margaret: This issue has sparked a lively debate. So far, your response is my favorite.
©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency
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