Wedding Woes

You need to keep pursuing Al-Anon and therapy for yourself.

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have been together for 12 years, and we have a very loving relationship. I knew before we got married that he suffers from an anxiety disorder. Medication seemed to help. Then about four years ago, it started getting quite severe. Around this same time, he started drinking way more than usual. I would come home from work, and he’d already be falling-down drunk. A year ago, I asked him to go to couples counseling with me. We went for six months, and I’m confident that I made myself really clear about how his drinking affects me.

During that time, there was one night when I woke up and he was asleep next to me and our pillows were covered in blood—he’d fallen down in the night and cut his head open, then just gotten into bed. Since then, we’ve both been in individual therapy, and he’s made an effort to drink less. But he still drinks sometimes, and there have been a handful of occasions where he’s gotten drunk enough that his behavior upset me. He’s had his anxiety medication adjusted, which has helped some. But it’s also now clear that he is also depressed. He’s taken to telling me nearly every day that he is “bad,” that he’s a “failure,” and that he “doesn’t deserve” to do things he used to enjoy (including having sex with me).

He goes to therapy every week, but I’m not sure it’s helping. I tried going to Al-Anon, but I haven’t found a meeting that really works for me. I feel like I’ve been doing all the right things—encouraging him to seek help, getting therapy for myself as well, etc. And we still love each other a lot. I don’t want to get a divorce. But am I enabling him by staying with him? I should note that my own feelings about his drinking and his mental health are mixed up with the fact that I was raised by an alcoholic father who suffered from depression. I sometimes am not sure if I’m upset with him or with myself for ending up in a marriage that’s practically a cliché for adult children of alcoholics.

—Alcohol and Anxiety

Re: You need to keep pursuing Al-Anon and therapy for yourself.

  • I'd recommend the therapy and specifically someone who is an addiction specialist.   They may have better coping mechanisms for dealing with this.
    short+sassyOliveOilsMom
  • The LW mentioned Al-Anon, but nothing about their H going to AA meetings or a discussion.  I find that a glaring omission, considering the length of this letter.

    Because he needs to be going to AA meetings or an equivalent.  I assume LW suggested this.  Why isn't he going?  Or, if he is, why didn't LW mention anything about that?

    LW also seems to have a lot of guilt.  Like they aren't doing enough.  I hope they're getting help for that in their own therapy sessions.  Because it is not their fault that they cannot single-handedly "save" their H.  Nobody could.  
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    OliveOilsMom
  • I think the therapy should be upped and an addiction counselor/therapist added specifically for them. 

    AA/Al-Anon is not a match for lots of people and she doesn't need to feel guilty for that.
    charlotte989875
  • VarunaTT said:
    I think the therapy should be upped and an addiction counselor/therapist added specifically for them. 

    AA/Al-Anon is not a match for lots of people and she doesn't need to feel guilty for that.

    Yes! My Dad is in recovery and Al-Anon was not for me, at all. No need for LW to feel bad about that. I do hope they find a book/podcast/someone that helps them work through their feelings because while the trauma of addition is not your fault, recovery is your own responsibility. 

    But also, it’s the husbands responsibility to do the work on his side and it sounds like he’s treating the effects of the addition (working to get sober) he still has a lot of work to do on the rest of it, including the depression. 
    VarunaTTshort+sassy
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