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Ask Anne: Relationship Advice
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Relationship Questions

Alcoholic Husband

I have been married for 6 years to my second husband. We have known each other since I was 2. He was married 2 times before and I was married once. I love the man I married, but I just don't know where he is. I live with someone that has become a total stranger. He goes out "to play pool" and forgets to come home. He is usually drunk when he does return the next morning and then the silent treatment starts. I have asked him to stop, I have made threats of leaving, but I cannot take my children from their home. I have thought of asking him to leave, but I am really afraid that he would be too stubborn to ever come back or try to change. I really do want our marriage to work. We were good together, but as soon as he turned 37, he started telling me that if I wanted to act old fine, but he would go out drinking and enjoying himself anytime he wanted. We have a set of twins (3) together and I have a 9 yr old. The oldest hates it when he's home because his always in a bad mood and we don't ever do anything "family" together anymore. I am just lost and don't know what to do. I really think it all links back to the weekend drinking, but I don't know how to make him see it. What should I do?



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Reader Comments

Couple comments - Rudy - Jun 24th 2014

This is a great article, but I do have some problems with it:

1)  In general I don't like calling this a 'disorder', because for people that identify with this behaviour (including me) it implies that something 'is out of order', that something is 'wrong' and needs to be fixed.  And while we may recognize that a change is desired, thinking of self is being 'wrong' or needing 'fixing' sets us up on a wrong path.  At the end, we are trying to modify some neural pathways, our feelings and thoughts, and I think it starts with self-acceptance that we are perfect and not 'imperfect'.   We need to mentally learn how to separate the self, which is perfect, and our behaviour (call it neural pathway, inner child, etc).  During mentalization, we can observe our behaviour, feelings, thoughts (just like we can observe our car), which we may desire to change, but US, the self, does not need changing. Because the SELF is, was, and always will be perfect.

2)  This overlaps with 1), but I believe the article is in conflict with evolution.  The behaviour, which is called 'disorder' has been learned in early childhood.  This behaviour was very adaptive and evolution gave us a brain that is so flexible that we can adapt as babies to life and death situations.  We are perfect.  What you feel, think and how you behave is perfect. There is nothing wrong with it. There is no disorder. This is an important step #1 for growth. Self-acceptance as being perfect.  Now, the behaviour we have learned as children, the feelings and thoughts we learned to protect us, protected us as children, but now they may not be adaptive.  So we accept that there is a room for growth. And there are ways to grow and change the neural pathways so we have adaptive feelings, thoughts, behaviour to the situation / stimuli present.  I believe the article does not explain a question  why would evolution allow us to learn these maladaptive behaviours.

3) From attachment theory point of view, avoidant person is one that learned to suppress emotions, and lives in the cognitive part of the brain.  Too autonomous.  I think the article describes mostly people that suppres the cognitive part of the brain and rely too much in the emotional part of the brain (me included).  Emotions become the primary source of information processing.  Cognition is turned off, because during childhood cognition lead to no predictability of safety vs. danger.  Emotion was much better predictor. (See how perfect we are!!!).  There are people that learned that emotions cannot predict this safety / danger and only cognition can do so.  They are in another polar oposite of this spectrum.  Both are maladaptive.  I think this article focuses on emotionally biased information processing type of people.

Having gone and still going through this process myself, my recommendation to anyone who identifies with the article above is to

1) self accept yourself.  The feelings and thoughts you have are there to protect you. Protect you from dangers you learned as a child.  Dangers that no longer neccessary exist.  But your brain still perceives them as real.  You are perfect.  Next time you become emotional, say 'thank you for pretecting me'.  Accept and thank yourself for this protection.  When you keep doing this,  you will learn to identify these moments, you will learn to self accept, self sooth, give self compassion.  All of this means you will learn mentalization.

You are perfect the way you are. Remember that. Being perfect means that all what you feel, think and behave is perfect to what you have been exposed to throughout your life and how you learned to survive. Perfect does not mean best. It does not mean there is no room for improvement.  Perfect means that you are exactly where you are supposed to be in your life right now.  Perfect does not mean that you cannot become more perfected. You can.

this was so helpful, thank you - kathy b - Feb 28th 2014

thank you for writing this. I felt less alone to read 10 percent of people have personality disorders. I am grateful for the help I am getting now learning DBT, which is definitely making a huge difference in the quality of my life. this article also identified for me what & why I have difficulty navigating waters others seem to do so easily. The analogy was so helpful to me. It's like trying to row a boat with one oar! : ) thank you.