Drinking or Marital Death? Your Choice

I love my husband but he says he can’t stop drinking and he doesn’t want to. How can I help him? He’s not abusive. I just don’t want him to hurt himself. ~G

Hi G,

I was a bartender in Hollywood for 14 years. During that time I served non drinkers, light drinkers, heavy drinkers and flat out alcoholics.

Over the years I talked with hard core alcoholics who became non drinkers. I asked them how they got sober. They all had the same answer: “I achieved sobriety one day at a time.” A lot of them said they went to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous.)

I asked them, “How do you get an alcoholic to stop drinking?” Because I was their bartender and their friend they gladly told me the truth.

They all said, “Bryan, there is only one way to get someone to stop drinking and that’s when they want to. If they don’t want to stop drinking then there is nothing you can do to help them except walk away. Because if you stick around all they will do is just drag you down with them.”

These men and women who were hard core alcoholics and achieved sobriety all lost their jobs, their families, their husbands and wives, all their friends, all their money and their self respect before they got sober.

They all got their knowledge and PhDs from the greatest university in the world, The School Of Hard Knocks. I will match that expertise against any expert you can find and I will always win because nothing beats real world, first hand personal experience.

They said, “You can take alcohol away from someone. You can force them to go to rehab. You can lock them in a room. But as soon as they get out they’re going to go right back to drinking and there’s nothing you can say or do about it. They will keep on drinking until they have run out of money, as well as family and friends they can abuse and con out of another drink. If you’re involved with an alcoholic the only person you can save from this situation is yourself. The sooner you accept that the easier your life will be.”

I know this isn’t the answer you wanted but it is the truth straight from the mouths of the greatest and most qualified experts on sobriety that ever lived: The men and women who were once alcoholics and gained their sobriety one day at a time.

The exact same advice holds true for drug addicts because over the years I talked with them, too, and they said the exact same thing the alcoholics who gained sobriety said.

You said your husband has no desire to stop drinking. That leaves you with a very difficult choice to make: Walk away from this marriage and save yourself or go down with him. I’m sorry. I wish it was easier but it isn’t.

Don’t let the good things in life rob you of the best things in life.

Bryan Redfield

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A Deficit of Attention Will Lead to a Marriage Deficit

“How do you communicate with someone who has adult-diagnosed ADHD and is very insecure?  My husband refuses to listen to or believe me when I try to offer him any kind of fact, but if someone else tells him the same fact, their word is believed immediately.  The few days of the week that I’m at work and he stays home with our daughter, he will just do the barest minimum of housework or caring for her even if I ask him to take care of one thing around the house.  He constantly reminds me that he has a high IQ, and makes me feel stupid compared to him.  Yet he mentions that my memory is infallible compared to his. Why is he so full of himself if he is insecure at the same time? I just feel like if we have nothing in common besides our wonderful child, why are we still together?”

~T

Hi T,

Thank you for your question.

Let me start off by saying I’m not a doctor so I can only give you a relationship answer, not a medical one. For a medical answer please talk with your doctor.

That being said, let’s get into your relationship with your husband, not his medical condition.

You didn’t mention when these relationship problems started with your husband. I’m sure you knew about his medical condition before you married him.

When did your communication problems with him start, before you got married, after you got married or after you had your daughter?

Let’s look at all three.

If your communication problems started before you got married then I’m not sure why you married him. Your communication with him is supposed to be excellent before you get married because if it isn’t excellent then after you get married it will only get worse.

If your communication was good before you got married then how was it after you were married for a while? Was it still good or were there “rough spots”?

If there were some rough spots then what was the subject matter of those rough spots? Was it the same topic over and over or was it generalized things? What was it about the rough spots that were causing friction?

I’m going to guess the problems started after your daughter was born. Whose decision was it to have the child? If you had the child against his will that would explain his current attitude. From what you’ve said about your relationship with him it seems he’s no longer interested in being married and doesn’t want the responsibilities of being a father.

One of the worst mistakes I see women make is assuming everything will “work itself out.” It rarely does. The problems just get worse.

You didn’t mention whether he worked or not or if he was on disability. You didn’t mention whether or not he wanted to be a father.

Unfortunately the situation you’re in is only going to get worse because you can’t force him to do anything. It sounds like he’s resentful of your daughter. Before she was born he had you all to himself. Now he has to share you with someone, your daughter, who needs a lot of time, energy and attention. Time, energy and attention that used to go to him. And it’s time, energy and attention you have to give your daughter for the next 18 years.

He seems to be completely unwilling and uncooperative regarding any adult responsibilities and it sounds like you are more of his mother rather than his wife.

I’m sorry to sound so negative but you need to realistically look at the problem and your options before you can deal with this situation to the best of your ability and try to be fair to all three of you.

You didn’t mention where your parents or in laws live. You didn’t mention any brothers or sisters or brother or sister in laws. That is one option for your daughter: Let her stay with them while you work on your marriage and see if it’s worth saving.

Your top priority is the care of your daughter.

It sounds like you need a break from all this to figure out what your options are and what your best course of action is.

Right now you’re raising a dysfunctional daughter because your relationship with your husband is dysfunctional.

The conversation you need to have with your husband is you need to ask him whether or not he wants to be a father. The second question you need to ask him is whether or not he wants to be married to you.

As painful as the truth may be at least you can deal with it. It’s the dragging of it out that is a complete waste of time for all three of you.

Why?

Because if your relationship with your husband is over and you drag it out it’s eventually going to end anyway. All that time, all those fights, won’t change him mind or his attitude. It just drags it out.

Not only does it waste a lot of time but it’s time you could have put in another relationship.

So here’s my advice: Find a relative, your parents, his parents or one of your brothers or sisters or one of his brothers or sisters who can take your daughter for a week while you sit down with your husband and flat out ask him:

1) Do you want to be a father to our daughter, yes or no?

2) Do you want to stay married to me, yes or no?

Regardless of what he says it will tell you what you need to do to protect and take care of your daughter and yourself.

I wish all three of you only the best,

Bryan Redfield

Check out my online course How To Get Him To Commit To You

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Introduction

Welcome! This blog is the home of Bryan Redfield, your new favorite advice columnist for all things relating to human relationships and interactions.

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