Don’t let fear rule a family crisis [Ellie]

Question: When I married my husband 18 years ago, he drank socially and sometimes went too far. Since his mother died in 2004, he’s been drinking regularly and hiding it from me.

Last year he developed medical issues, which cause fluid retention and caused a 75-pound weight gain. He’s been hospitalized twice. He may need a liver transplant but they won’t even do a biopsy until he’s stopped drinking for six months minimum.

He’s been seeing a rehab counsellor, attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings daily, and takes medication to curb his cravings. He is trying. But I’m so tired of fighting over this and don’t know how to help him anymore.

Our teenage kids wonder why their father just can’t stop drinking. Otherwise, he’s going to die. I’ve been seeing a counsellor myself, which helps a bit, but am told there’s nothing I can do.

I’ve contemplated asking him to leave so we don’t have to watch him die, but I married him till death do us part. What can I do?

So Frustrated

Answer: Hang in! What you’re experiencing is fear, and that’s natural. But you can’t run from this reality. He’s there, he’s trying, and it’d be unusual cruelty to leave him and to separate him from his kids, let alone you, at this crucial time.

Clearly, grief over his mother’s loss escalated his alcohol abuse. Now you’re letting grief — in anticipation — take control of you, too.

Your children need to see role models of strength, not despair — all that you can muster, and whatever he can gather. Continue your counselling and be his greatest support.

Question: My friend and her husband have been married 22 years, but he fell in love with her sister 17 years ago. He confessed to my friend, and the two ran away together.

Everybody was stunned. My friend’s husband had been loving. Her parents found the couple and took her sister home. The sister soon married someone else.

My friend and her husband moved away and had another child. However, whenever her husband sees her sister, he’s emotionally excited and creates drama.

Now, my friend’s in-laws are visiting and the whole family badmouths her. They say she doesn’t respect her mother-in-law, even though my friend’s doing her laundry, taking her everywhere she wants, etc.

Now her husband only wants his family to visit them, not my friend’s. He doesn’t want her to go to work, and wants to know if she’s going to her parents and complaining. He says she should thank him that she’s living in his house. He now sleeps in a separate room and doesn’t want to talk to her.

My friend loves her husband and children (21 and 9). What should she do?


Answer: Your friend’s dangerously close to being isolated and controlled by her husband. What she calls “love” is dependency. But she has legal rights, and needs to learn them so she can respond if he gets nastier.

She must tell her parents all that’s going on. And she must see a lawyer. She needs more than just confiding in a friend, but having people ready to help her.

If there’s a community person whom her husband respects, she should talk to that person and see if any community