Only One is willing - detailed

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2003
Only One is willing - detailed
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 12:59pm
Thought I'd get a few more perspectives if I gave some details to this "when only one is willing" discussion...

Here it goes... My husband: we're married less than a year (dated for 5, lived together for 4). When we first met, we were both drinkers (social, I thought). Eventually I started growing out of the drinking phase. Prior to our moving in together I told him (and this was not an ultimatum), “there’s one thing that won’t work if we going to live together: your excessive drinking. I’m telling you this because there’s no point in us getting involved any further if you don’t think that you can change your drinking habits or maybe, you don’t want to change your drinking habits.” Again, this wasn’t an ultimatum. I was very nice about it and explained that the decision to live together was one that would affect both of us and we needed to discuss it thoroughly. He thought about it and agreed that drinking wasn’t as important as pursuing our relationship so he backed off and put limits on his drinking habits.

Now let me say this: he doesn’t drink nearly as much as he used to (3 beers a night on average, sometimes more as opposed to….uh, no limit a few years ago!!). But the drinking always seems to pose a problem or start an argument. He’s not violent when he drinks or abusive in anyway. He’s just not him… He’s actually no fun to be around because of the fact that he acts childish and can be difficult. He’s nothing I can’t handle but when he drinks, he’s just not the guy that I fell in love with. I fell in love with the quiet, sincere guy who would spend evenings with me talking about very private things in a candle lit room (without having a drink prior).

We've discussed the drinking before. I say he can’t stop, he says he can but doesn’t want to because he enjoys it (BS!!!). However, on at least 1 or 2 occassions he admitted that he uses alcohol to self medicate, sometimes.. Sometimes, he drinks cuz he likes to (which I can understand, occassionally having a glass of wine myself). I know that if I gave him an ultimatum (stop or goodbye), that it would be really hard for him…. But I haven’t done that. What I’ve asked him to do is to drink responsibly and reasonably (don’t get into your car if you’re not going to remember the drive home!!!). But he can’t even do that. I don't want to give the ultimatum but he's not working with me.

Recently, I’ve decided, that when I come home and he’s been drinking AND is acting childish/difficult, then I’ll simply ignore him (why aggrivate myself by arguing or trying to discuss the issue yet once again??). If he’s had a few beers and is acting fine, then everything is fine. But when I ignore him, he asks me why I won’t sit and watch tv with him and I tell him to figure it out (only because he knows, or at least he should know because I’ve told him that he acts differently when he drinks.) If I even started to discuss it the response would be to just drop it, so I don’t even begin the conversation.

This week (due to an argument on Sat. evening) I have not been speaking to him at all (except when absolutely necessary), and I’ve been sleeping in the spare room. He wants "to be friends again". I told him not until we discuss AND RESOLVE the issue at hand.

I’ve been holding out because I’ve tried in the past without significant results. Last night he said, “this isn’t cute anymore and I’d better stop”. I freaked out and blurted that this was not an effort to be cute… there��s nothing cute about it and until we talk and agree to some adjustments this is how its going to be.

He advised me that he wouldn’t make anymore adjustments….. How do I handle this now? We’ve haven’t discussed the issue. He knows what it is. But he flat out told me he wouldn’t make anymore adjustments because he would be very unhappy….

What now?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2003
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 2:15pm
Wow, your situation sounds an awful lot like my DH's first marriage - only it was his wife who was like your husband. They met in a bar, drank as a couple for several years. But when the children came along, he wanted to give up drinking. She didn't (or couldn't). She wanted to continue drinking every and all evening, going out bar-hopping, etc. and he wanted to stay home and be a family. They began to argue all the time. They went to marriage counseling and when the counselor asked the ex-wife if she would be willing to give up drinking in order to save her family she said "no".

So, she lost her husband and eventually her children, too. She's now a haggard looking almost-50-year old woman who still can't stop drinking. That, IMO, is an alcoholic. Anyone who would throw away the most important things in their life rather than stop a destructive habit has an addiction problem.

If your DH could realize what this is doing to you and to your marriage I'm sure he would stop, but the alcohol has a stronger hold on him. Sadly, he can't see that. Just like my husband's first wife, your husband thinks he can quit anytime. These people can't quit because they can't get through the day with drinking.

I hope you'll seek counseling for yourself, possibly in a support group of people who live with alcoholics. Your husband will never change until HE wants to. Until then you need support for yourself. Counseling will give you strength and talking with other people in the same position will help you feel like you're not alone.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-15-2003
Sun, 06-15-2003 - 1:31pm

You sound like you're being really reasonalbe and doing more than your fair share of the compromising in this relationship. He needs help with his drinking problem, you know it, he knows it, but I don't think he's ready to acknowlege that truth. I don't know if leaving him is an option for you, and from my own experience, I know how devastating it can be to consider this measure. But...he is a grown up, and needs to help himself. You can only do so much -- and you've already fulfilled your end of the bargain and then some. Hang in there, but don't give more than you're getting in return. He needs to wise up.