The Washington Post

Sober spouse doesn’t know what to do about marriage to alcoholic husband

- week at washington­post.com/advice. Write to askamy@amydickins­on.com or Amy Dickinson, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, N.Y. 13068.  You can also follow her @askingamy. © 2021 by Amy Dickinson distribute­d by Tribune Content Agency Ask Amy AMY DICKINSON

Dear Amy: I am conflicted about what to do regarding my marriage. Back in 2010, I quit drinking. My husband promised to quit with me.

Unfortunat­ely, he still drinks heavily.

I have expressed my need to be with a sober husband. He has promised to stop drinking. He even went to a hospital to detox. This lasted for seven weeks but then failed because he did not participat­e in a follow-up plan.

The hospital diagnosed him as depressed and an alcoholic.

He took his medication­s for six weeks and then stopped.

He is very hard to live with. He has never hit me, but the verbal abuse gets bad.

I told him that if we are going to stay together, the drinking has to stop. He agreed to this but keeps drinking. He maintained that he could drink once a week, but that hasn’t worked. Now he drinks 200 beers a week.

I started attending counseling. Today he told me that he doesn’t like how he feels when he’s drinking, but he doesn’t know how to stay sober.

I again offered to help with inpatient rehab and a follow-up plan, but he insists he can do this on his own.

I keep reminding him that if he continues to drink, I will file for divorce.

He is just so used to me putting up with it!

I love him, but living with a drunken husband sucks the life out of me. — Ready for Change

Ready for Change: When you’re truly ready for a change, you will make that change, instead of expecting your alcohol-addicted husband to make it for you.

I hope you will review your choices, and your reactions, with your counselor. Also, attend a “friends and family” support group, like Al-anon ( al-anon.org).

I suggest that if you remove your need to monitor, attend to and respond to your husband’s drinking, your husband will have one less reason to avoid treatment.

My point is that you are alternatel­y pushing him to stop and then cushioning him when he doesn’t, and so you are absorbing some of the consequenc­es of his drinking, which for him might be having to face and choose treatment for his depression without you distractin­g him by making empty threats to leave. Your conflicted feelings are keeping both of you in place.

Did you get sober for your husband’s sake? (No, you didn’t.) Will he get sober for your sake? (It’s doubtful.) He must do this for himself.

You have fought for your own sobriety. You have a duty to make a protective and healthy choice for yourself, and let your husband learn how to fight for his own sobriety.

Heartbreak­ing as it is for you, you may need to continue to love your husband from a safer distance.

If it’s time for you to leave the marriage, then you should leave it without any bargains in place.

Dear Amy: A friend of mine met a lovely man, whom she started dating.

She found out that he is married to a woman who has Alzheimer’s.

My friend goes to his house to care for his wife and to help him out.

They are dating.

He is a married man!

Is it me, or is this a little strange?

— Wondering

Wondering: I think it’s you.

You don’t seem to have any personal insight into this situation, given that you don’t know the man or his wife.

Your friend’s presence in the household might be a very good thing for all of the people involved.

I don’t think this is a situation where you as a friend should necessaril­y sit in judgment.

Dear Amy: The question from “Not Nameless Wife” intrigued me.

This was about the man who always called his wife “Honey” instead of by her name.

I did the same thing as well, until my wife passed away after 47 years of a happy marriage.

I am somewhat of an introvert. Upon reflection, I find that I have always addressed people by their names as a perfectly socially acceptable way of establishi­ng a degree of slight separation between them and myself. But when my wife and I fell in love with each other, we were then so close to each other that she became “Honey” to me.

I guess it was my way of expressing love, inclusion, comfort and trust. — Also a Mr. Honey

Also a Mr. Honey: I appreciate your insight regarding how your introversi­on affects your verbal endearment­s. Your wife was one lucky “Honey.”

Amy’s column appears seven days a

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