Wedding Woes

What would you tell a friend in an abusive relationship? Do that for yourself.

Dear Prudence, 

My wife and I have been married for almost six years, together for more than eight. I know it is the cliché, but the quarantine has me contemplating divorce, not from spending time together but my wife’s reaction to it. Her drinking, which was a problem before the quarantine, has gotten out of control. Most days, I don’t know what I am going to come home to (within the past month, I started a new job and had to go into the office after three months of working from home), if she’s going to be drunk or not, and if the former, is she going to be passed out or angry or giddy or hungry. Many times in these states, she’s become verbally abusive, screaming “fuck you” at me or calling me names—this she usually doesn’t remember the next day, or says she doesn’t. She also isn’t taking the quarantine isolation well in terms of mental health, stating it is making her feel crazy. But her expression of this is trying to push my buttons and push me toward darkness because it makes her angry that I seem to be OK and she wants me to be crazy so she doesn’t feel lonely in her craziness. But I can’t let that happen because she has stopped helping with anything around the house, from taking care of our animals (two cats and two dogs), cooking (when I was working from home, I had to make sure she ate, and now that I’m not home, she has stopped eating during the day), cleaning, doing any of the shopping—one of us has to stay OK. I have tried to be supportive, encouraging her to go see a therapist or to AA (she refuses to do these things) and being there for her; I worry about her and want her to be happy, or at least OK. But I am exhausted. You mention in relationship letters how a person will describe a problem and couch it in “But they are a really great person” or “Otherwise the relationship is great.” When I try to think about the good, it is always in the past. She was smart and fun and silly; we did have great communication.

I have been increasingly thinking about leaving (and these are usually fantasies about coming home from work and being able to flop on the couch and read a book over a cup of tea or play a video game) but am held back by several factors. One, I don’t want to abandon someone when they are obviously in a dark place, and I fear what she would do if I were to leave. She has stated many times she doesn’t know what she would do without me and how she feels desperate to keep me. Two, I come from a very dysfunctional family (don’t we all) that I am not close with at all (I was always the black sheep, but being gay sent me out to pasture with them), while my wife’s family is very close (talking multiple times a day, group chats, frequently getting together—before the pandemic), so I feel like I would be losing a family and would be alone. (I don’t have any close friends.) Three, my wife’s drinking has been an issue really since we first started dating but got bad about two years ago, and the reason is that I had an emotional affair—I fell in love with someone else, though nothing physical happened—so I feel responsible for both her excessive drinking and her negative self-thoughts. All I want is peace, to feel able to relax, but I feel like I am a babysitter/caretaker. But if I were to leave, I would feel like I was a monster. I am currently in therapy and my wife refuses to go to couples therapy and I would greatly appreciate your advice. Should I stay or should I go now?

—Stay or Go?

Re: What would you tell a friend in an abusive relationship? Do that for yourself.

  • This all sucks, there’s no way around it. If you can find a time where your wife is sober you need to have a talk with her; tell her how you feel about her drinking and her behavior, use I feel statements, and be as specific and detailed as possible. She may take it badly but you should be clear about how this is impacting you. You should work this all out with your therapist before hand. 

    But you’re not responsible for her behavior, her drinking, or her reactions regardless of whether you had an emotional affair or not. You’re also not responsible for what she does if you decide you need to leave. 
    short+sassy
  • LW, leave.  However if you're truly concerned for her and you're that close to her family, talk to them.  Tell them what's going on and why you have to go.  I can't imagine that they're going to fault you, but if they do, you did what you could.  

    Also LW, get some counseling for yourself.  You deserve all the things you want.  You should live in a peaceful place where someone isn't calling you a motherfucker and you can flop on the couch after work with a book and tea or to play a videogame or sit in silence without fear of being terrorized by an angry drunk wife. 
  • Talk to her family and then get your ducks in a row to leave. 

    BIL was dating a lady who was quite nice. Then she had surgery, got addicted to opiates (helped by her Dr who would prescribe anything/everything), and everything went down hill. BIL had a lot of the same feelings but eventually left. She rebounded with a SoundCloud rapper (they're younger), moved to LA (away from her drug pushing Dr), and last I heard, now clean from opiates. 

    Sometimes you aren't the help you think you are.
    The term 'SoundCloud rapper' makes me snort every single time.  Even though I LOVE Post Malone (who's a singer more than rapper) and he got his start on SoundCloud, I think, it still just makes me eyeroll and giggle at the same time. 

    Also, this letter makes me think of every family on that Intervention show.  Every time at least one person, but usually several, are trying to save a person who clearly didn't want their help beyond how to get them to their next high. 
    charlotte989875
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    It's ok to leave, LW. You are not responsible. Maybe al-anon in addition to your individual therapy to help with some of your guilt. Your affair did not cause a drinking problem and it did not push an existing drinking problem out of hand. 
    OliveOilsMomshort+sassy
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    LW should continue with their own therapy and bring up the issues at home, if they have not already done so.  

    LW should also try to find the wife during a sober moment and talk frankly.  

    LW should also try to involve wife's family and make them aware of the situation.  

    LW also needs to know that they can leave, it would not be their fault if anything we to happen to the wife.  LW should try and speak an attorney too, to see what financial implications leaving with an unemployed spouse would do to their financial bottom line.
  • This all sucks, there’s no way around it. If you can find a time where your wife is sober you need to have a talk with her; tell her how you feel about her drinking and her behavior, use I feel statements, and be as specific and detailed as possible. She may take it badly but you should be clear about how this is impacting you. You should work this all out with your therapist before hand. 

    But you’re not responsible for her behavior, her drinking, or her reactions regardless of whether you had an emotional affair or not. You’re also not responsible for what she does if you decide you need to leave. 
    Especially this.  The LW needs to have one last CTJ talk with their wife.  I think this conversation should also include an ultimatum about couples therapy, but ultimatums are for worse-case scenarios when nothing else has worked and should be used lightly.  So, if the LW is not at a place where they will follow through yet, they need to wait until they are.  But, either way, I think it's fine to talk about how difficult the situation has become and she needs to see her helping to improve things.

    And to repeat the other PPs, if the LW decides they need to leave, that does not make them a monster.  People are responsible for their own actions and decisions.  The wife is causing an intolerable situation.  And it's especially sad because it's related to alcoholism and possibly a mental health issue, like depression.  But, at the same time, if the wife isn't ready to seek out help, then she is CHOSING to keep it a miserable situation.  And the LW doesn't need to stay around to watch their life go up in flames, while the wife sets her own life on fire.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Try to at least have one last serious talk, and if still doesn't work then leave. You are better of without her.
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