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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.”

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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