Hi all, I signed up here a few years ago, I think when I was on maternity leave with my daughter who is now 4. My husband always jokes about his ADHD, but he truly has all the classic signs of it (that I see in my students at school who have been diagnosed - I'm a teacher) - gets obsessed with projects and loses touch with everything else, loses everything, quick to anger when he feels he's being criticized. But he also has some amazing coping mechanisms that he's created himself, particularly where time is concerned. He's amazing at using timers and his phone to keep him on time for everything. And he works full time and is very good at his job. So I had hope when I first approached him about us trying therapy or at least reading Melissa's book together that he'd be willing. But he wasn't willing. He felt if I was unhappy, then I had to fix the unhappiness myself because he was fine.
I read the book and identified myself in the nagging parent role and slowly removed myself from it as much as I could (old habits die hard). I went to therapy to get my thoughts together and the therapist gently suggested that if only one person was willing to work on the relationship, it most likely wouldn't work. But the therapy also showed me something else. What I had thought was just a "good `ole boy" drinking thing, was actually alcoholism. Slowly, I opened my eyes to how much it was affecting our family. I also realized it was preventing me from carrying out one of the suggestions in the book - to have my own life. I was afraid to go out and leave my very young children with a husband who most nights of the week, drinks heavily. I became aware of events I turned down and one that I actually cancelled when he'd had way too much to drink before I left. Again, he was not willing to acknowledge that this was a problem or make any changes.
After a couple of years of dealing with some health problems that made it hard for me to make the big decision, I am finally here, recovered, but exhausted and no more spark left. I'm definitely carrying the majority of the work at home and the child care while working full time. This is after hiring a cleaning company to come in once every couple of weeks and asking my parents for help with the kids when I really need it. Asking him to help in any way often leads to a "no", but if I'm struggling I get the old, "But you should just ask me for help." I can't handle that anymore, it upsets me so much. I've been asking him for years to stay at the table during dinner instead of leaving when he's finished but the kids are still eating. But he won't. He wolfs down his food and leaves. Sometimes doesn't even come for dinner at the beginning. He gets up later than the kids and I and then starts rushing all of us when he wants to leave. Sometimes the lilttlest things like, "I think it might be garbage day tomorrow" turn into him feeling criticized and snapping at me about it. I hate this walking on eggshells.
I've finally decided I'm done, but am worried about what a separation will do to my kids. He's always rushing and snapping at them - when I'm really, really sick and can't get my parents to help with bedtime, it's awful. He puts them to bed way too early, as quickly as he can and the crying is awful. I'm worried about having to share custody in any way with him, both due to this and the alcohol problem. He's fine to drop them off and pick them up from school (he does that now), take them to activities and maybe spend short amounts of time with them, but he can't handle anything that requires a sustained amount of time interacting with them. And he's very against us separating - he's said it many times when I bring it up. If I do go through with this, he is a game player, and he will try to make me pay. I'm worried it will be by trying to get full custody of the kids by using the health problems I have had/still have.
I'm so torn - on one hand, I can't see myself living like this much longer, on the other hand, I am really scared at what a separation might do to my kids. Any insight, similar experiences or advice would be greatly appreciated!
Children of alcoholics
Submitted by Chevron on
What about the long term impact on children who grow up in a household that has alcoholism in it?
I'm sure that you already know that you can't make your husband stop drinking.
I'm not surprised that your husband is against separation, if he's an alcohol addict.
You'll make your own decision, based on what you know about yourself , about how your kids really are, about how things are at home, etc. I don't know if this is a useful reference point or not but I've known two women with very small children who decided to divorce because they wanted to take their children out of the disturbances that were happening daily in the home, due to active drinking and its disturbance of safety and order for the kids. Both times, the final decision to separate was made principally on behalf of the little kids, not about the woman's own wellbeing.
I remember that one of these women, who I think had two or three small kids, a toddler and the other two under the age of 6 or 7, remarked to me that she could see that her alcoholic husband didn't mean to harm any one. She really saw that. And then she went on: but that doesn't mean that what he was doing daily in the house wasn't harming the kids.
It's a very hard call. Here's a hug. Glad you wrote, ICanSee. I hope perhaps a board member who has gone through a separation, with little kids involved can tell you how things fared for the kids, long term, or for that matter didn't separate, and there were little kids involved, and can give you hindsight advice on if you do separate or stay, things that your kids will particularly need.
I'm not a child of an alcoholic so can't give any stories about the impact later in life of growing up with an alcoholic parent, but perhaps other board members who had that going on in their childhood can tell you if they draw connections between being a kid in an alcoholic household and particular later in life problems or coping
Thank you so much for your
Submitted by ICanSeeClearlyNow on
Thank you so much for your insight. Your comment that he'd be reluctant to separate because he's an alcohol addict was an eye opener and much needed. It's so true - he needs me around so he can get away with this heavy drinking. It's not necessarily about me being his perfect, cherished partner (he'll tell me how perfect I am for him every now and then in his gushy phases, but how he shows little appreciation for all I do speaks volumes itself).
"About how your kids really are" also make me think carefully. They are starting to notice things more. They call everything he drinks "beer" including his morning coffee. They both seem to have anxious attachments to him. Just like the woman you described, I do think he loves them and is trying to be a good father (actually, I think he does feel he's a good father), but his mood swings and unpredictability are affecting them.
I'm not sure if I'm more considering the separation due to the untreated ADHD or the alcohol problem. Probably both. I'm hoping those with some experience with a separation with small children do see this and can offer some insight.
Thanks again for you reply!
I wish you much strength and
Submitted by Heart's Desire on
I wish you much strength and resilience as you go through this! My husband is also in deep, deep denial about his adhd and won't treat it. We also have two small children (4.5 and 1.5) and I'm considering and preparing for separation. The alcoholism adds a whole other dimension of enabling and stress, and for that I don't have too much insight, but I do hope that you are able to lean into your support system/family and get through this. It sounds like your children are living in a stressful situation right now that will affect them long term, so you are doing the right thing to consider and prepare for ways to end this.
Other members have mentioned the book "In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People" as a good resource. Our adhd spouses may not be doing it maliciously, but they can be manipulative/narcissistic at times. I need to get the book myself as my husband can so easily twist and bend my words and throw them back at me to make me question reality and I need strategies to cope with this.
Heart's Desire: I read your
Submitted by ICanSeeClearlyNow on
Heart's Desire: I read your "Ready to throw in the towel post..." before I posted and it really resonated with me, part of what got me to finally post again on this board after a couple of years. Thank you for your kind words. I wish you strength and resilience too! If you don't mind me asking, what are you doing at this stage to prepare for separation? I saw a lawyer years ago when I first considered it, but am not sure I should take a step that drastic before letting my husband know how I truly feel at this point.
ICanSeeClearly: We have our
Submitted by Heart's Desire on
ICanSeeClearly: We have our home on the market, and are considering renting after this due to losing quite a bit of money on it in the downturn here in our province's housing market. For me, I'm also considering renting so that it is a bit easier to move out and not have the stress of selling our shared assets as well. I really want us to not have property together if we are going to separate, so the first step in my mind for the last year or so has been "please God, just let us sell our condo and alleviate the financial stress we're under and then move into a rental and breathe for a bit". I know we'll both need somewhere to live, but I do want the condo off the books if we go ahead with a separation.
Talk with a lawyer
Submitted by MelissaOrlov on
I would recommend that you get a clear picture of your rights in your state by talking with a lawyer. Do you need proof that he's alcoholic? What sort? What is child custody likely to look like? How will the finances be handled? Seeing a lawyer doesn't commit you to a divorce, only helps you be informed.
I've run into a LOT of 'adult children of alcoholics' who have very real mental health issues from growing up enabling an alcoholic parent. It's a very difficult situation you are in and I wish you luck.
Thank you for that very
Submitted by ICanSeeClearlyNow on
Thank you for that very practical list of questions, Melissa. It's definitely the information I need to start considering. The last therapist I went to did start suggesting I collect proof of alcoholism, so I half-heartedly took a couple of pictures of the garbage can full of cans and tucked away a couple of his credit card statements that he'd left lying around, Then I just got overwhelmed, but I think I will need to start again and speak with this therapist again (she was ready to coach me through an exit plan) as well as a lawyer. I don't have a lot of experience with adults who had alcoholic parents, so thank you for the information that this can create mental health issues in my kids. My big struggle has been will they have more issues later on not having had dad around as much growing up or growing up with an alcoholic dad. You've given me my answer. I really appreciate your website and all it has done for me and it certainly has helped me finally come to this very difficult, but very necessary decision. Thank you.
Separation and kids
Submitted by MrsADD on
I am too. I want to leave so bad and get my own place and see if I feel better. I just cannot do my marriage of 5 years any longer. It is exhausting for many of the same reasons you mentioned. He too is good in short spurts. Fun Dad time as I call it. I fear any over nights b/c he leaves his hunting guns, knives and fishing hooks all over. Plus has horrible cleaning habits (or no cleaning habits). I fear my kids will come to a house filled with dog hair, laundry, food and dirty clothes everywhere with piles of paper on top. I stopped managing our upstairs in May when I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with third child and moved downstairs to leave him to manage his own space and this is what it looks like. I have taken pictures of the filth to use as evidence when I leave. Keep posting if you do leave I need all the advice I can get! I am 90% sure I will move out this summer and get my own life started.
If they won't try to help
Submitted by inthedark on
If they won't try to help themselves, you have to leave. I did, and feel much better. You have to take care of yourself, so you can look after your children.