My wonderful wife isn’t wonderful after she’s had her third drink.
Her demeanor changes and either she’ll become someone I want to move away from, or her conversation turns into conflict.
Her early life had several family deaths and her first marriage was hell. There’s also dysfunction now among her extended family.
Over the years we’ve had several talks about how her drinking affects us.
I’ve poured all the booze down a drain twice, used the silent treatment, and left home for a night when her antics infuriated me.
Recent years have been better. However, last night she made very upsetting comments to me.
With friends, I want her to enjoy herself, but I know when the night can start to go badly.
She refuses to see the problem and has rejected any type of counseling.
I’m worried that I’ll eventually have to give an ultimatum I can’t retract. I love her but cannot accept the abuse and anger that emerges. What do I do?
Start a conversation about your relationship with empathy for her family situation and the effect it’s had on her.
Tell her how much you want her to feel safe, comfortable, and loved within your marriage and life together.
Tell her that though things are pretty good, you believe she could feel better if she talked it out with a counsellor, who can help her not let the past affect her present and future.
Make this about her emotional well-being and absence of anxieties, not about her alcohol intake, nor about your relationship.
If she still refuses counselling and the drinking problem persists, I encourage you to attend an Al-Anon meeting and join a support group for those living with loved ones’ alcoholism or their behaviour changes with even occasional drinking.
You’ll hear strategies for coping as a partner, and other approaches to handling the situation.
You may also consider getting counselling yourself, so that you do not issue ultimatums unless you’re absolutely certain of whether you’ll carry them out.
Reader’s Commentary “My daughter and I had a rocky relationship for 30 years but were doing better since her child’s birth.
“Her father and I divorced 20 years ago. But she recently severed “all ties” with me because I’d never told her that her “step-sister” was actually her half-sister.
“I knew but felt it was my ex’s responsibility to tell them (he’d had a child with another woman while we were married).
“Now, after taking an ancestry DNA test, both sisters are ticked at me, not their father.
“My daughter even blocked my social media.
“Somehow, I’m the one at fault?
“I’ll continue to try to mend our relationship and keep ties with my granddaughter.
“I’m sending a cautionary message to your readers about these DNA tests: They can do more harm than good.”
Your ex owes his daughters an explanation as well as an apology (also to you).
You saved him all those years from being known by his daughters as a cheater. You deserve some backup on this situation by him accepting responsibility and telling them why he stayed silent.
Meanwhile, they’re both deeply hurt by him. It’s likely almost too wrenching for them to confront him about it.
Unfortunately, you were the easier target.
Keep reaching out to your daughter with understanding of her hurt, in loving but casual ways – phone calls, small baby gifts when appropriate, offering helpful babysitting, etc.
FEEDBACK Regarding the future groom’s cousin who set her wedding sooner and more exotically (August 10):
Reader – “The cousin's destination wedding a month before his own date will hurt more than just his fiancée's feelings.
“All his relatives who are attending will be spending a lot of money for flights, hotel and food, but also wedding and shower presents.
“They’ll be tapped out when his wedding comes around. They may even skip it.
“His fiancée rightly thinks that the groom's family will be dominating events and overriding her own family's plans.
“She can participate in joint bridal showers and engagement parties, as long as her relatives are involved, too.
“But they should attend the destination wedding and reschedule their own several months later (re: everyone’s finances) to have her family share the spotlight in wedding plans.
“If rescheduling their wedding’s impossible, then I think the bride is right. The cousin acted unreasonably.”
Tip of the day:
Alcohol can create behaviour problems for drinkers, at different levels of what’s “excessive” for them. They have to want to change their behaviour pattern.