Annie Lane: Alcohol use is tearing married couple’s relationship apart
Published 5:41 pm Friday, October 29, 2021
Dear Annie: I am a 64-year-old man with a 54-year-old wife. We’ve been married for 21 years now.
About eight years ago, we moved to Butte, Montana, so my wife could take a supervisor position for her work. It was a better job for her, and I reluctantly agreed to move, though it pretty much shut me down in my work and outside life where we were.
We both have drunk over the years, but as I got older and developed medical issues, I pretty much stopped, both at home or out and about around town. My wife has gone the other way and uses drinking as a way to cope with work and life in general.
Her drinking has become a daily thing, and now most of it is hidden and done in private. Sure, she opens a bottle of wine at home in front of me, but she drinks the whole bottle or more. I don’t say a thing anymore because it’s just caused arguments and problems, so I’ve stopped.
The majority of the drinking is done with liquor or wine hidden in her tote bag, her clothes bin, or stashed in her vehicle. I’ve found wine cartons, empty liquor bottles and beer cans in various places around the house. She drinks on her way home from work and walks in the house already lit up, which creates different moods and personalities. She keeps her tote bag in her dressing room and, throughout the evening, drinks whatever she has hidden.
She even drinks at work, going out at lunch, getting something and drinking through the afternoon, coming home already drunk. She pretends everything is normal, but I know better.
Through advice from Alcoholics Anonymous counseling, I’ve been documenting and photographing each day’s drinking. Doing that has helped me cope with her daily drunkenness, but it’s just getting old now.
Although I’ve told my wife several times that I know what she’s doing, she keeps it up — hiding her drinking and getting drunk nearly every day. She usually passes out on the couch early and then goes to bed, but other times, she messes around in the kitchen, leaves things in disarray and puts things anywhere. I never know what I’ll find. It’s almost like taking care of a little kid. It’s aggravating dealing with this kind of person all because they’re drunk.
Our relationship has drifted apart because I become judgmental or don’t want to listen to her when I know she’s drunk. I just saw a half-empty bottle of vodka in her bag; she just walked in the door, complaining about the people who work for her or some other issue she has today — this mood, this drunk.
I’ve talked to her about this. I’ve asked her to stop — or just stop the hard liquor — and the hiding many times, but she keeps on. I’ve written letters to her stating my concern for her health and our relationship, and she says, “Yes, I have a problem, and I’ll stop,” but she never does.
She finds ways to blame me, and uses me in some way as an excuse or reason for it, but they all prove foolish. I just don’t know what to do. I obviously love and support her, but the years are going by, and my life and health are starting to suffer. Our life together is suffering, and I don’t know what to do.
I’ve gotten advice from ALANON counseling, and it doesn’t look good. What can you say and advise me on? Please help me with my situation.
— Alcohol Creating Distance
Dear Alcohol: Your wife’s drinking is out of control. Hiding her booze and keeping secrets from you takes the situation to a new level. It is a miracle she has not killed someone driving drunk.
Consider speaking with her in the presence of a counselor, where you can express your feelings in a safe, sober space outside the home.
Another option is to stage a small intervention with only close friends and family in attendance. You’re likely not the only one who misses the woman your wife used to be and wants to see her get the help she needs. Perhaps reinforcements will speak to the gravity of the situation and remind her how many people she has in her corner who only want her to get better.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.