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What to do...

We have been married for 8 years, together 11, with 2 kids. He is a recovering alcoholic who has relapses (1-2 a year), not violent, but stays out all night. I feel like he has so many problems and they keep getting worse as time goes on. Depression, bipolar, the drinking, hates his job, etc. We have always worked opposite hours because we can't afford daycare but it hasn't really affected the relationship because it made us miss each other. But now I feel like a switch just shut off. That there aren't the same feelings anymore. Like I cannot stomach all the problems he's had, I just don't want to deal with them anymore. I feel like if I hear one more complaint from him my head will literally explode! He annoys me with everything he does, and I don't call it out, just try to avoid him. I know the whole, for better or worse thing, but how much do I have to put up with and never get back? It's like he's such a burden and not a partner, nothing is equal when it comes to emotional support because he has so many problems. If I had known this 11 years ago, I would have ended it then...what do I do?

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Asked by Anonymous at 10:09 AM on Nov. 5, 2013 in Relationships

Answers (9)
  • I think if it were me feeling this way I would look into couples counseling. If funds are tight and you are religious, maybe approach your clergy for help on this. If nothing else it will help you make sense of your feelings and maybe help direct your efforts into which path you want to take.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 10:28 AM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • Thanks, that's a thought. I just don't know what happened to me. It really was like a switch went off and now I feel nothing. It worries me because it literally happened overnight.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 10:44 AM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • If you had known this 11 years ago and you ended it you also would not have 2 wonderful children. You can't go back but you can go forward. I'd start by putting my foot down and telling him AA, counseling or there's the door. You've shut all this up in you for years and you need to let him know how you feel. I'm sure it's effecting the kids as well. They're not stupid. You have to do what is best for them.

    Answer by baconbits at 10:59 AM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • Yes, I agree with my 2 kids being a blessing despite what I said about ending it with him. He goes to counseling and AA for these problems. That's the thing. It seems he's trying to 'get better' but one day I woke up and the compassion or affection or what not, just vanished from me. The kids aren't very aware of the depth of problems. We don't fight, aside from ocassional normal arguments, he's not mean to them or me, he holds down a job. This is so hard to explain. The only way I can is to keep saying it's like a switch went off and I was sick of all the problems he has. When they're not around, he spends a lot of time unloading, complaining about all things big and much that I just want to scream, shut up and suck it up. But I don't because that's mean...I don't know how to explain really how I feel. Just that something left overnight and I woke up a different person with a numbness towards him..

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 11:16 AM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • It's normal. You're going to have to decide if you want to make a go of our marriage. If you do then you're BOTH going to have to make an effort toe rekindle the fire. Start by doing little things for each other. A gentle massage (not sexual!), fixing his favorite meal, etc. You need to talk to him and let him know what you would like. A night out together (arranged by him), him helping the kids with homework, a gentle massage, flowers (even if they are from Walmart!) etc. He can't read your mind. Let him know that you are arranging a no complaint/unloading night, if the other catches you doing it then you owe them a foot massage, have to clean dishes, etc. Make a game of it. Or you can set a time limit. You have 10 minutes to tell me about how bad your day was and listen. Then it switches but at the end of the 20 minutes it is done and you focus only on the positives of the day. It takes WORK to make a marriage WORK.

    Answer by baconbits at 11:54 AM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • Thanks for all your suggestions. I have a lot of thinking to do because the thought of actually spending time with him, especially romantically, makes me cringe.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 12:33 PM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • I echo the counseling suggestion to give an opportunity to talk about & explore (and just really, really fully express) the "switch" thing you've experienced, that shutdown of feeling, the intense annoyance, the revulsion or withdrawal. Those are feelings, & feelings aren't static. They change, but the important thing is that they flow or they are a process, and engaging IN that process is what allows them to be what they are (AS they are, right now) and flow into the next thing. Getting stuck is the issue, where feelings are concerned. If they are flowing & changing, there really isn't a problem (even when the feelings are "negative" or painful, difficult.)
    Bringing acceptance to the moment, to what is happening internally, is the key to engaging the emotional process. But getting there can be easier with the support of good therapy.
    Individual counseling can be helpful. When one person changes, other things change.

    Answer by girlwithC at 6:51 AM on Nov. 6, 2013

  • Your husband wanting to & trying to "get better" is crucial, but it's also important to have the conditions that support real change. That involves the concept: the understanding that problems (including alcoholism & other behaviors around avoidance of pain/threat) happen for a reason or in a context, & recognizing those origins. Also recognizing the pattern of avoidance for what it is, & why it is doomed. Often with substance abuse, the focus is on substituting other "better" coping behaviors for the behavior. Which obviously is helpful at "ground zero" when you're struggling to change habits, establish a different way of being. But I believe it's important ultimately to shift the WAY of being with your feelings. The feelings that drive coping/escape don't vanish or "stop." Being able to be with uncomfortable, threatening feelings (that typically drive escape) is what allows lasting change by resolving the issue of avoidance.

    Answer by girlwithC at 7:04 AM on Nov. 6, 2013

  • Help him get better
    Bye odouls beer
    and do some job searching for him
    Theres at least a start
    Also, divorced folk aren't much happier for the record.
    Be super supportive, give him sex to relieve pressure, massage him?
    Write him a letter too so he can refer to it whenever he's ready, also so he can read it over and over

    Answer by lullaby572 at 5:53 PM on Nov. 6, 2013

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