HOW do you leave an alcoholic spouse?

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I've been with my husband for 15+ years and we have 3 children together (4, 7 & 9). He admitted pretty early into our relationship that he had a problem with drinking and I already knew he'd had a problem with drugs just prior to our meeting. Over the years I've seen him continuously cycle through binge drinking, then stopping for several weeks, or sometimes even months, at a time. He smokes pot every night. I've tolerated it as the lesser of two evils because he stays away from the alcohol for longer when he has a 'crutch'.

This year he's had a lot of relapses with drinking and cocaine. The last time he came home drunk I said I wanted to leave with the kids. When he sobered up he talked me out of it, of course, but we agreed that I would leave if it happened again.

Well, it just happened again and I don't know what to do. I thought my exit strategy would be to take the kids to a nearby hotel, hostel even, until I go through the motions of applying for emergency accomodation through the housing executive. But as he's lying drunk in bed, I'm thinking things like, 'I can't go anywhere until the school uniforms are washed and dried' and 'how will I keep my daughter's antibiotics refrigerated?' I have feeling if I don't leave before he sobers up, I never will! I believe that our leaving is the only way he'll make a serious effort to change. My ideal outcome is that he will start going to AA (again) but this time he will have an epiphany and we could eventually live together as a family again.

My family all live in another country. While his brothers know my situation and are supportive, I don't feel AT ALL comfortable asking anyone to take us in for a couple days. My husband's unemployed and I am a stay-at-home mum. So, while I have a credit card, I would have to be uber-frugal.

Then there's the issue of what to tell the kids...

Has anybody had any experience (or known someone who has) of dealing with leaving an alcoholic partner and have any suggestions?

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  • Posted

    It's very difficult Emma, that's for sure. I don't have kids, although I've been married along time.

    Finance is always a big issue and I suspect if it wasn't, many relationships would have broken up a long time ago.

    There are people on here that have been in relationships and have children, and if you regularly keep an eye on your thread, some of these will reply, unfortunately unlikely to be before your husband wakes up.

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  • Posted

    Just out of interest...why should you leave? I'd wait until he wakes and ask him to go and stay with his brother for a while. After all..You both agreed it shouldn't happen again and it has. I'm sure he loves the children and wouldn't want them uprooted. Harden your heart And ask him to go...It is for everyone's benefit in the end. Good luck xx
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  • Posted

    I am 65 -married 46 years - I should have left 20 years ago, alcoholic only, no drugs, but have now worked up to vodka straight for breakfast.   I am as trapped now at my age, as you feel with young kids, only you have youth & health on your side. I, unfortunately have heart conditions (12 stents) mobility issues, and have had a stroke. No surprise, as so much stress.  My own grown adult kids, with children of their own, do not understand why I am still with this man, who is verbally mean to me, and doesnt support me emotionally- 2 weeks in hospital after a recent heart attack/surgery- and he came once, couldnt stay sober enough to visit.

    So, in answer to your question, leave sooner rather than keep on keeping on , hoping for change that will never come.

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    • Posted

      That's sad only came once to see u in 2 weeks, do u depend Financially on him for money, bcz u are wasting your time imagine, 20 more years of that, we all live longer nowa days.
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  • Posted

    Can I also just say, before too many pile in with the advice of, leave the loser, you are better off without them.

    Many people still love their partner, and are looking for a solution to put it right, they already know what the 'nuclear' option is.

    And don't forget, there are children involved, as in many disputes and I am sure they prefer an amicable solution where they don't become children of a one parent family.

    Before anyone says it, I am not avocating putting up with things for the sake of the children, but that the solutions are more complex and not knee jerk.

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    • Posted

      I have loved my husband since we were 17! And still do, but his "out of control" alcoholic behavious is now causing MY health to go downhill, and I dont even drink!! He has no desire to stop, or even to try and cut down, and his mouth is so mean when he's drunk. I am merely suggesting she doesn't hang on in there expecting him to change. Not even for the kids, - mine dont thank me for it,
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  • Posted

    This is really difficult.  And its really bad to make "threats" and not stick to them because then he knows that you are not going to do anything.

    ​I recently told b/f that he would have to move if he didn't stop drug use because I am working on staying sober.  I actually gave him a date...and I know that if he doesn't do what is good for him and us....I HAVE to follow thru.  I DID go to the courthouse last week and show him papers for him to know that I am serious.  I also did leave a relationship of 22 years....WITH KIDS. 

    ​But, i did what lorna suggested witht he 22 year relationship because of the kids.  I asked HIM to leave and he did.  In the US they have "restraining" orders...you go to the court and say he is a danger to himself, you and your children and he will be removed from the house if he doesn't go on his own.  It is a real hard thing to follow thru with...but it would be the best for your situation.  Do you have something like that the courts will do for you in the UK? 

    ​If not...I would tell him you are going to get his family involved TODAY and DO IT....ask him to go to his brothers as suggested and if he refuses...start making calls in front of him.

    ​As far as the kids..They know there is drama in the house  believe it or not...my kids told me years after leaving their Dad they wish I had done it when they were younger so they didn't have to SEE and HEAR things that they did.  You have to stick to your "guns" and your "word" about doing something this time.  You really do or  you are hurting yourself and your kids.

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  • Posted

    What would give him the bigger wake up call I wonder? To come round from this or a future drunken spell and find you and the kids gone. Or to come home from a future bender and find the locks changed. I wish you well whatever you decide
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  • Posted

    U can leave and stay at a safe house with your children, they is a charity for domestic abuse called, refuge, its free to stay and u get a lot of support, cheers
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  • Posted

    Hi there. I really empathise with your situation and feel for you. I think the first step to take is to talk to his family and tell them what you intend to do as it's making you ill after so many years and not a good environment for your children to grow up in. They will understand. I agree with lorna in that he should go if he carries on. Not you or your kids. 

    Next I would tell him that unless he shows willingness to try and get better then he will have to leave. You, or one of his brothers, should go with him to the doctors and find a solution to help him get better. Whether it be medication now available( naltrexone, nalmephene or campral). He will need a detox and/or rehab. You have to make it very clear that you want him to get well but if he doesn't want to then HE will have to leave.

    I wish you well and hope that you and your family find peace and happiness xx

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  • Posted

    Earthmama, there may be another way out for him (and you), if he can't seem to stick to abstinence. Especially if he tries and each relapse gets worse than the one before.
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  • Posted

    Thank you so much everyone for all your replies! Well, in the end I couldn't get my stuff together and get out of the house before he woke. After a long heated debate, he left. Unfortunately, as I guessed he would, he came back that evening to talk. That's the reason I wanted to leave- I knew I could avoid him for a couple days if I left. When he showed up to apologise last night, I caved in and let him stay. I knew I would. Next time hopefully I'll be better prepared to leave in a hurry!

    I have to say that, thankfully, there is no domestic violence in our relationship, even when he's drinking. My biggest concern is his behaviour can be very reckless when he drinks. He would sometimes drive drunk, leave cannabis out in plain view of the children, keep the kids up all night by shouting to no one in particular, etc.

    Last night he explained to the children that he has a drink problem, which I am grateful for. A big part of the reason I never approached the subject with them is that I thought I'd never hear the end of it from him. But, obviously kids pick up on these things and I think they're better off knowing the truth (well, the Disney version of it anyway) than the just the bits and pieces they are hearing flying around in arguments.

    Thanks again to everyone who replied!

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    • Posted

      It was very brave of you to reply when you weren't able to do what was requested and thank you for doing that!

      Hi..glad you talked..glad he maybe took a step by discussing this with your kids.  Just hope he didn't make promises to them too that he could possibly break because alcohol is so powerful.  He may mean every word he says...but alcohol when ingested is so much stronger than any promise we alcoholics make.

      ​I totally understand you "taking him back". It took me a full year to really have the courage to leave my 22 year relationship.  And I WAS the drinker...however, I was sober 1 year when I asked him to leave because our relationship was so broken from many things...that I knew I couldn't stay sober and be in that relationship.

      ​In way...you are in the same situation because you and your children CAN NOT be happy if he continues on this cycle.  And I don't agree that you are not in a domestic relationship....just because he doesn't get violent or doesn't hit you....or doesn't yell or scream...does not mean you are not being "abused".

      ​Your peace of mind...yours and your childrens safety (leaving pot around)...him potentially leaving a lit stove (which I have done many times) and many other possibilities from someone in a drunken state is affecting your lives in a negative way....And most of all you feel trapped in it...and your kids are trapped in it.....they call it being held "hostage" in Alcoholic meetings.  And being held "hostage" is a different form of domestic abuse.

      ​I wish for him to stop...and I wish for you strength to do what you have to do if he does not....

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