When my wife and I were dating, I introduced her to wine as a gentle accompaniment to being together talking or having a meal.
Ever since we married nine years ago, a bottle of wine has accompanied dinner at our home.
But lately, I’m worried about her drinking.
I’ve noticed more empty bottles in our recycle bin; she’s become short-tempered in recent months, and frequently says she’s “too tired” for intimacy.
She collapses into bed immediately after our two boys (ages seven and five) go to sleep.
My wife worked full-time before we had children, stayed home with them for several years, then started a part-time job from home this year.
I’m worried that she might be drinking alone at home in the day and getting addicted to alcohol.
As a parent and husband, it’s natural to be concerned when your wife’s alcohol intake may’ve become problematic.
But this is a situation for compassion as much as concern.
If you’re correct that she’s drinking a lot in the day, something’s triggered that change.
It may be that her home-based job’s less satisfying than her earlier work. Or her fatigue could be health-related – a useful starting point for suggesting she see a doctor about her decreased energy.
Or, there’s a different psychological or emotional factor to be explored.
If it does become apparent that alcohol’s affecting her behaviour with you and the children, she still needs your compassion in getting her to acknowledge possible alcohol abuse disorder.
Especially because of its potential harmful effects on children growing up in an environment with this situation.
Seeing an addiction counselor can be helpful for both of you. There are also family-support programs and addiction help-lines that can be searched online for your locale.
FEEDBACK Regarding the boyfriend’s concern about his girlfriend suddenly experiencing a panic/anxiety attack (Sept. 24):
Reader – “Nothing was highlighted about the girlfriend being a social worker, which can be a very depleting, anxiety-inducing job.
“Also, the boyfriend should’ve been advised to sit down with this woman he loves and ask her what can he do to help.
“As in, "I’m worried about you, do you need something from me? Can we come up with a panic-attack first-aid plan?"
“He may discover that if another one happens he simply need not abandon her while it runs its course.
“And when it's done, wrap themselves in a blanket and watch her favourite show together, allowing her to process what happened, then be ready to talk it through.
“I have anxiety that ebbs and flows. Counselling is great but sometimes those who have panic attacks just need the people in their lives to be there, while they figure out if they need to get a professional involved (which in itself can be anxiety-inducing).”
Ellie – The letter-writer wrote partly because of his concern that somehow he’d done something to cause this sudden, seemingly unprecedented attack.
That’s why I reassured him that, so long as he wasn’t behaving harshly to her, he didn’t cause this episode.
Your description of providing calming comfort to someone who’s experienced such an anxiety episode sounds very appropriate.
However, since this was a first-time occurrence, I’d still strongly recommend that she see a doctor and/or therapist who deals with anxiety attacks.
The boyfriend could then join her in couples’ counselling together if/when she’s ready for it, so he can learn what response is most helpful to her.
Our two sons, ages ten and nine, are always fighting at home. It’s so nerve-wracking I end up yelling at them to stop, then issuing harsh consequences that make them angrier, blaming each other.
They’ll even run behind me and kick at each other while I’m trying to keep them apart.
I sometimes end up exhausted and crying, only to later find them laughing at some silly TV show together.
What am I doing wrong in raising my boys?
Boys OR girls, they need their energies regulated – between activities, snacks, and quiet time.
Keep them active, as much as they (and you) can handle, with school-based sports, music, local teams, and activities.
Have healthy snacks available right after school.
At home, encourage creativity with age-appropriate art supplies, building projects, and drawing.
If they can’t handle creativity in the same room, separate them and have each help you with making dinner (simple tasks).
Avoid over-relying on technology devices with rousing games to occupy them.
Tip of the day:
When alcoholism’s suspected in a loved one, bring compassion to the task of looking for answers and help.