Tuesday 24 April 2018

Dear Mary: We end up fighting every time he hits the bottle

Stock image posed by model
Stock image posed by model

Mary O'Conor

My husband is an alcoholic and we argue all the time when he drinks. I want to leave him but at the same time I don't want to. I don't know what to do. We love each other very much but can't seem to get over the fighting. He won't agree to get help to try to work things out, despite the fact that he does not want things to end. We have kids together and I want what's best for them too. He just says our house is too small which is not my fault. He also frequently insults me. What do I do?

Mary replies: We are particularly badly-affected in Ireland with regard to alcohol consumption and how it affects the family dynamic. Regular surveys give depressing findings around Irish drinking habits and a lot of this is to do with how accepting we are of people's alcohol consumption.

As long as your husband is an active alcoholic, there is no hope of anything changing. You argue as a result of his drinking and this is not going to change while he continues to drink.

It is wonderful that you still love each other and that you haven't yet found that things are too difficult to continue despite everything that is going on. Naturally you are thinking of leaving the relationship, but with children to be considered it is difficult to make a final decision to end things.

Your husband cannot really expect that the relationship will continue without his getting help for his drinking. Continual arguments while the children are around is extremely unhealthy for them to witness, and hearing their father insulting their mother is the exact opposite to what they should be learning with regard to how a man treats a woman. He really doesn't have an option if he wants to stay in the marriage, and you need to get this message across to him.

If you feel that you can't do this then you may have to get the help of one of his close friends or family member. You tried to get him to seek help for the relationship which he refused, but even if he had agreed it would have been like putting a sticking plaster on an infected wound without investigating what caused the infection in the first place.

You both need help and it is really important that you seek it.

For your husband, there is AA which works directly with alcoholics, and for you there is Al Anon which caters for those families who are affected by alcohol.

It doesn't matter where in the country you are living, you will find that there is a branch of AA near you. Look upon writing to me as the first step towards a better relationship and I hope things work out for you both.


You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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