How do you deal with unacceptable behavior?

Published by at 11:19 am under Common Concerns

Welcome to “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” from Al-Anon Family Groups. This is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Pam, Anna, and Betty are with us today. All are active Al-Anon members who are willing to talk about how they deal with unacceptable behavior.

How to locate a meeting


368 comments on “How do you deal with unacceptable behavior?”

  1. Robyn says:

    My husband and I have been together for 30 years, married for 26. He has always been a drinker and I’ve always tolerated it. However, I am at my waterline. He is drinking every night, 6-8 beers. He’s never been abusive, physically or otherwise, but recently he’s gotten very obnoxious, saying completely inappropriate things in front of our teenage daughter, just generally being mean. For him, I know it’s a coping mechanism. The problem is that after all of these years I’m over it. I no longer know how to deal with him, because he doesn’t see the problem. I’m miserable!

  2. Laurie says:

    I’ve been living with my guy now for 6 years. I’m 55, he’s 59. We’ve been through a lot in these years. He’s a good, honest, loving and hard working man. In this last year he started having a shot of liquor before bed, saying it helps him fall asleep. He’s sore and can’t get comfortable. Gradually he’s pushed it up to 2-3-4-5 glasses a night before bed.

    He rarely drank until this last year. I confronted him on it a couple of months ago. He seemed to slow down and now is back where it was,1-2-3, etc. I hear the cupboard door opening where the bottle is and my panic starts.

    I don’t know how to deal with it. As I said, we’ve dealt with a lot. I just had a radical hysterectomy due to uterine cancer–no treatment, they got it all in surgery. With that, a son of his who is always in trouble, very volatile, and my guys drinking. I’m becoming very depressed.

    I’ve been here before, but I don’t know how to deal with all of this. Thank you for the shoulder.

  3. Jeanne says:

    I’ve been married to my husband for 12 years, the first 3 were wonderful, he was such a kind man. I knew he liked to drink, he was a funny, loving drunk, unlike my last boyfriend, so I thought I made a wise choice.

    Now he drinks everyday, he gets off work at 3:30 and gets home at 6:30, he stops at a private club everyday, and comes home trashed, some times he can walk, sometimes he can’t and I wait till the next day to tell him not to do that again, it works for a little while.

    He comes home so mad at me, I’ve never done anything to him, I’ve learned to stay quiet, when he comes home because he wants to fight, I see fire in his eyes, he pushes me a lot, I don’t know if this will get worse, so I just go into myself and stay there until I go to bed.

    I can’t leave him, I have nothing, I work 2 days a week and I don’t have a car anymore, he smashed it.

    He breaks things, he does things just to make me mad. I don’t know why he wants me to be mad.

    I think I still love him. We haven’t slept in the same bed for 3 years. Sex doesn’t happen anymore. He can’t, I guess that’s the alcohol too. He doesn’t brush his teeth anymore, so I can’t stand to kiss him.

    I am so afraid he’s going to break my spirit, I pray a lot. I just want to know how to deal with it.

  4. Debbie says:

    Been married for 13 years, second for both of us. From what I have been told, he came from an alcoholic relationship. 4 out of 7 days, he drinks to excess. He usually passes out but gets very agitated about all things. Drinks by himself if we don’t have company.

    I try to keep peace by agreeing with him, keeping opinions to myself and generally leaving him to himself. He works from home, loves when we have people over but not much for going out.

    He is the most loving and caring person the other three days, but once he starts drinking he can’t seem to stop. When I suggest that he stop, most of the time he does but is very grumpy about it.

    I wish I knew what to do.

  5. Sad wife says:

    After reading so many of the comments, my heart hurts. I’m so sad to think that MY husband may be (I’m in denial) an alcoholic. I feel like i want to save him but i can’t. I feel like turning my back on him and running would make it even worse for him so i stay. I’ll wait for his usual apology to come tomorrow morning. I’ll sleep in a different room again to avoid the pointless arguing tonight. I can’t stand the smell of stale alcohol on his breath. Most days he is a great husband, father and provider. But tonight he drove home again when he shouldn’t have and said he was on the way home knowing he wasn’t. Hours later he makes it in the door…i want to cry because i was worried but i want to yell because I’m mad he put me through this again. I don’t know what to do.

  6. Melinda says:

    My children’s father and I were young parents without support. When his mother passed away, his drinking became horrible. First with the verbal abuse, then the physical abuse – even in public. It’s strange to see normal people, good people, look the other way.

    After a couple more years, I planned my exit strategy. By this time, he had 2 DUIs and no job. I convinced him to separate by giving him my car plus $2,000. And it worked! He would still stop by my house and job to harass me, but I pretended to be happy to see him and I had to run an errand. A couple times I had to tip off the police.

    Another couple years went by, my kids were 5 and 6, and he passed away. It was his birthday and he was walking in the road and was struck by a vehicle. It was very difficult explaining this to the kids. I’m beyond blessed they only have good memories.

    Since then I’ve been married and now have a 2 yr old. The kid are 10 and soon to be 9. My husband is showing alcoholic tendencies. He’s at 2-3 cases a week. I do not drink because he’ll drink more than usual. He’s not mean, and he has a good job he goes to every day.

    If I mention how many he’s had, he gets defensive. I have this horrible pit in my stomach. I do not want to see this unfold again. The smell of his breath brings up so many bad memories-I can’t help but compare. And now I’m starting to resent him.

  7. Nancy says:

    I have been married for 9 years, my husband is an alcoholic and 20 years older than me. I am 28 he is 48. So the sex doesn’t go well with us.
    He drinks about 9 to 10 beers every day after work.
    I am always making the excuse of thinking that things will change. I thought when we were dating that once we get married he will change, after we have a baby he will change, when we become financially stable he will change always to come back and discovering that no, things will not change and things have not changed for the better.
    I wonder if I will have to live like this for the rest of my life, will that be the example or the father role that my son will grow up with.

  8. Haley says:

    My husband and I have been together for a decade, all of which he has been drinking. I didn’t realize he had a problem until our son was born and he promised to quit. Needless to say, that never happened.

    He works very hard to support us and is a wonderful person. Like all drunks, he is terrible with the attitude and name-calling. He starts fights for no reason and will say or do anything to get me to argue with him. He breaks things around the house in a drunken rage. When he is sober, I see such pain in his eyes. We have been through terrible things together, some of which can never truly be let go.

    I wish I could suffer these things for him and I want to help him so bad, but it’s not my choice to make. He has to want it for himself and I don’t know if he will ever. Why would he? He gets to drink his problems away, while I have to pick up the pieces sober.

    We have always loved and supported each other immensely. It’s just this one thing, this terrible affliction. I’m tired of my son seeing his dad with a beer in his hand every day and I am desperate to have the man I married back. God only knows how my son will be affected by this in adulthood.

    I look at these stories and see how much my life is the same. I have left him before for 6 months and he stopped drinking. Obviously the problem lies too deep for him to control on his own. I will never leave him or give up on him, but I feel like I’m drowning and he’s pushing me under. I wonder if it will ever end.

  9. Shana says:

    I don’t know where to start. I guess I can start with I love my husband! He has always been a drinker. Actually we both drink. When he drinks, though, it’s like he is on a mission to get drunk. He does have severe anxiety and I think he uses drinking to self-medicate. He is fine if he only has a couple of drinks. If he starts drinking early on during the day, I already know it will be a bad afternoon.

    I’ll use last night for an example. His company threw a crawfish boil at 2:30 for the employees. When I found out about this I asked him to please pace himself. Well, that didn’t happen. He wouldn’t answer my phone calls or text. He withdrew money we didn’t have and gambled it away. He was dinking and driving and I couldn’t sleep, worrying if he was going to get home safe.

    I woke up at 2:30 a.m. to find his truck was home but he was nowhere to be found. I called his name and got no answer. When I went back inside he sent me a text saying I was no good at hide-and-seek, because he was on the roof. He didn’t come inside till 5:00 a.m.

    He is so reckless when he is drunk. He says mean things to me and disrespects me. The man he is when he is sober is the one I’m in love with and don’t want to be without. I really don’t know what to do! We actually divorced because of this issue and remarried 2 years later. He is becoming the man I divorced once again.

    We have been together a total of 13 years and 4 kids are involved. The thing is I worry about him when we are together but more when we are apart. I feel I’m not living the life I deserve but I only want him. Makes no sense. Something must be wrong with me.

  10. A pen says:

    I feel like I am in a self-made hell most of the time.

    I met my husband when I was 17 and I am now 26. Nearly ten years together and 6 years married. Since we met I have dealt with infidelity, drug abuse, volatile verbal abuse while living in fear, sadness and anger. What have I become?

    The most devastating realization is that our stories are so similar. He is different when he does use and he used to be so loving, but he changed. We change as humans and this is natural, if not welcomed. However, he changed for the worst. He doesn’t love himself, so how can he possibly love me or his son?

    He almost killed me today. He drank with his friends and picked me up from work buzzed. I was upset. He was driving too fast and was late picking me up. I was upset and I should have just got in an uber or something. He drove so crazy and was punching the steering wheel screaming at the top of his lungs, while driving over 80 miles an hour.

    This husband of mine justifies the abuse by blaming me for everything. My son loves him so much, I can’t help but feel like I am tearing our family apart. But when will it be enough? There is always an excuse – no money, my house, our son’s school, his friends, but what weighs the right decision?

    My heart is so heavy and I feel like the light in my soul is fading.

  11. Anne says:

    I am married to an alcoholic. We’ve been married for a year and have a daughter. He’s been emotionally abusive when he is intoxicated. Recently he busted his head on the floor and got some stitches.

    He blames me for everything. He told me I ruin his life. He is in the military and he is 34 years old, and I am only 22 years old. I’m young, but not stupid. I wish I can get my confidence back and build my life again. I’m tired dealing with him.

  12. Lisa says:

    My husband is an alcoholic. I’ve been married to him for 14 months. In December we went on a cruise. He beat me up & passed out. I ran for my life.

    I’d never been beaten up in my life. My dad used corporal punishment when we were children, but this was way different. I called on the authorities and they took him off the ship.

    He’s a beautiful person when he’s sober. A complete Demon monster when he drinks. He spent 4 months in prison. I don’t know how to deal with this. I can’t tell my family. They’d disown me. I love him, but I fear him more than I love him.

    I’m new to all this. We grew up in a very strict church environment. We don’t smoke, drink, dance or party. He’s trying to convince me to go back to him. He’s such a good liar. I’ve heard everything he says before. I just don’t trust him.

  13. Sean says:

    My wife has a drinking problem. It is not every day, but every so often when I come home I complain about things being suspiciously messy and the children not having been fed. This is met with uncharacteristic behavior from her. She raises her voice and uses profanity. She also wants to talk about our marriage and how she deserves to be respected (this basically means not complaining about anything she does). She has low self-esteem and it reflects in the way she keeps the house and cares for the kids sometimes. She works from home and this leaves the house a wreck most of the time, especially the bathroom.

    Both of her parents are functioning or weekend alcoholics. Her mother calls on Friday and says unspeakable things to her and me and my mother (back when she would answer the phone). Their drinking is a big trigger for her.

    I have asked her not to drink while caring for the children because it tends to stop when she starts. One day I came home early from work and she was coming back from the store with her second six-pack, she was vomiting less than a half an hour later (before I was do to be home).

    She says I am verbally abusive, because I complain about her messy habits and her drinking. All of this happens in front of our two children. When we argue she gets extremely defensive, which turns me into an interrogator.

    This summer I got a six-pack to drink myself after working in the yard all morning. I asked her not to drink too much or any at all. She drank four, so I wanted to have another and made the mistake of going back to the store to get another six-pack. She drank 4 again and then wanted to go get more. We had a huge argument at the car and I lost my temper. I hurt her finger. I started to think I had a problem also, but it has really been more of a coping mechanism to deal with our relationship problems that stem from her dysfunction.

    I used to enjoy going out with my friends to have a few beers, but I realize now that I cannot drink at all, socially or otherwise, because it becomes an excuse for her to get drunk, often in the middle of the week and during weekend days and mornings.

    Lately I have imposed a strict moratorium on drinking in the house, and this has led to her secret drinking. When I came home yesterday, she blew up when I scolded her about not replacing the liner in the bathroom trash. This led to a long argument during which our two-year-old son was crying hysterically. The next day I found the bottle in the trash and asked her about it, whether it was drank before or after the fight. She eventually told me she drank it before, and that is why the kids had not had dinner by 7 pm.

    OK, so I am a nagging husband, the house is a disaster and she almost never leaves it. She has no friends and when she interacts with her family she gets worse. When I keep my mouth shut, the drinking and dysfunction increases. She says I berate her, and I agree, but what am I to do? I have tried being nice about living in a hoarder’s house, but that usually only leads to an eruption after I can no longer function due to the hoard.

  14. PEARL says:

    I am married to a drunk. We have been married for less than a year now. I am 30, he is 29. I feel like his drinking is getting worse, then better, then even worse.

    We fight about it, then he stops for 2-3 days (depending on how bad we fight — if it’s a little fight, he doesn’t stop drinking), then he starts again, quite bad. Then he goes on binges. He drinks about 2 bottles of wine a day. He thinks he is having fun. When he stops drinking, he is bored and depressed. Must be the withdrawal.

    I feel that I can’t talk to him when he is like this. I feel I often have to wait until the morning for everything to turn back to “normal” so we can talk about whatever I had to tell him from the previous day. It’s Jekyl and Hyde. It is ruining me emotionally, plus we have to sleep separately as he snores quite badly. He only snores when he is drunk.

    Also, I find the smell of stale alcohol so repulsive I often cannot bear to be close to him. He also cannot perform too well sexually when he is very drunk. This is also making my skin crawl if he asks for it when he is drunk. I often have to say no, because I just cannot stand him touching me.

    I want to help him & I want to leave. I often ask myself if this is going to be the rest of my life, and it fills me with sadness when I think about the answer. I am only young and reading these comments here. It makes me question whether I should stay married to him and help him or leave and don’t look back.

  15. Kimberly says:

    I have been with my husband for 8 years now. We got married in 2014 and he has always had a drinking problem, but it seems like it is getting worse. I cannot talk to him, I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around him all the time and the name-calling is so bad now.

    I look at myself in the mirror and I wonder if everything he says is true. I don’t feel loved when he is drinking because of the things he says, but then when he is sober he is wonderful. I can’t sleep anymore and I have a hard time focusing on things I need to do. Most of the time I feel like the failure.

  16. Kate says:

    My boyfriend has started binge-drinking and blacking out and putting his safety in jeopardy 3 times per week, that I know of.

    We have only been together for 3 months, and I’m learning that he has severe impulse control problems (caffeine, alcohol, pornography, diagnosed ADD). He has been so kind to me so far, but now I am genuinely afraid that this is his true personality coming out and that he is an addict. I can’t be involved with an addict. I won’t be.

    He told me he thinks he needs to cut back, and I agreed, but he’s already passed out drunk in public once (that I know of) since saying that. This is my first experience with this stuff and I don’t know what I can say that will be received well. When I told him his behavior is “dangerous” and he’s putting his safety in jeopardy, he responded with, “I don’t really drink that much” (um obviously that is pure denial), and when I asked him why he is drinking 8 beers instead of 3-4, he could only give the answers “boredom” and “probably because the weather is nice now,” when the obvious answer is, “Because I desperately want to escape my life and my feelings, because I’m unhappy and stressed out and scared about the future.”

    My inclination is that if he can’t be honest about what’s driving him to drink this much, there’s not much I can do – he needs therapy. These binges only happen when I’m not around, so I hardly know how to set a boundary. Maybe “I am not going to kiss you when your lips are all chapped because you’re dehydrated after drinking so much last night.”

  17. Dawn says:

    I can’t believe how some of these stories and feelings are exactly what I am going through. I have been married for 5 years. My husband always liked to drink and he was actually a fun, happy, spirited person.

    Of all careers, he’s a personal trainer. Always telling people how important it is to stay healthy, and he drinks to the point where he verbally abuses me and also has put his hands on me several times. The last time he grabbed me by my hair and slammed my head down on my dresser. I was so scared that I called 911. I thank God that my daughter wasn’t home to witness any of this.

    He hides the drinking. He drinks Jack Daniels and just this morning my dog was crying and looking under his bedside table and when I looked to see if it was her toy, there were 3 empty bottles of Jack Daniels. I used to get very depressed and would think it was my fault when he would act strange towards me and belittle me. Now I realize that it’s the alcohol that’s doing this to him.

    He has broken promises and he lies constantly. Not only does he drink, but he smokes pot and abuses pain pills. My daughter isn’t his and I even lost two of my older children because they can’t stand him. Thank God, my two oldest still love me, because I feel like I picked him over them. I sit here and cry because I did pick him over them. What was I thinking?

    I am getting up the strength to leave him. I have tried too hard to be the perfect wife, but the fact is he doesn’t come home until 10:00 p.m. or later every single evening. I just can’t take it anymore.

    I’m a 44-year-old woman who still has a life ahead of me. Everyone tells me how beautiful I am, both on the inside and outside, and I keep asking myself why I continue to put up with this. I guess it’s because I believe in marriage vows, but I know now that I can’t help him, I can only help myself. I just hope I get up the courage to leave and I need to get up the courage to attend Al-Anon meetings. I pray for each and every one of you struggling through this horrible disease.

  18. Michele says:

    My husband and I are newly weds; we’ve been married for seven months and almost three years total together. I’ve always known that he was a social drinker, but the past six months he has gone into overdrive. It started out slow and has been increasing steadily.

    Many years ago he did get a couple of drunk-driving charges. He also served seven months in prison and just got his license back a few years ago. He had to drive with a machine in his truck, which has been gone for almost a year. He’s going back to the same things that got him in that predicament. This time if he’s charged he will lose his licenses.

    We very seldom talk or do anything during the week, because he’s either doing yard work or drinking. A couple of times during the week when he gets off from work he goes straight to a friend’s house and drinks. When he gets in, it’s late. He doesn’t call and if I call he doesn’t answer; he always has an excuse.

    There is no intimacy, just sex, which has decreased from three times a week to once every 10 days or so; he can’t. He has told me he knows he has a problem, but he’s not ready to quit, which isn’t leaving me with much choice but to leave. I just don’t know what to do; my self-esteem is so jacked up.

Leave a Comment

[Do not use your full name]