Dear Anne: I am a middle aged single mother of two grown children. I recently started my first serious relationship since my divorce five years ago, and I love him very much, but there is a huge problem. I found out that he had an alcohol addiction in the past (which cost him half of his pancreas and caused liver problems).
Recently, his business closed after more than 20 years in business and he started drinking again. One day we planned to see each other, and I couldn’t reach him. Turns out he drank so much he passed out and slept for an entire day. I was upset and really worried. So I confronted him and told him I wouldn’t watch him slowly kill himself.
His health is still deteriorating, but he swears up and down that he won’t drink again and he wants a life with me and our children. I want to help him, but only if he helps himself. My gut tells me he always drinks behind my back.
I’ve been through a lot and I’m perfectly comfortable being alone. Do I take him at his word, or do I trust my instincts and walk away? It would break my heart, but I can’t be a facilitator. — Confused
Dear confused: While it’s good to take him at his word, it’s even more important to take him by his actions. Does he attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or other support groups to help him with his addiction? Is he using the same tools that helped him get sober in the first place? Does he have a godfather? All of these issues deserve a conversation between the two of you before any decision is made.
If you love him very much, attending Al-Anon meetings will also help you deal with him. Before making any major decisions, you need professional help to manage your husband’s illness. You’re right that you only want to help him if he helps himself, and the only way he can help himself is to be honest with you from the start. This is where the action steps come in. Sobriety should be her number one goal.
Dear Anne: I wanted to share that I actually took a second job at a rehab hospital to figure out my spouse’s addiction. It took a few years and dedication to bring information back home to share, but gradually things changed, and with naltrexone he was able to do that too. He often tells me that I saved his life.
Cher saved his life: Thanks for sharing your story. I am printing your letter alongside another wife struggling with her husband’s addiction. I hope your letter inspires her to continue supporting her husband and that she finds the same success that you and your husband have achieved as a team in the fight against this disease. Kudos for staying the course and saving his life! It sounds like true love and dedication from both of you.
“How can I forgive my cheating partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology – featuring her favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation – is available in paperback and e-book form. To visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected].
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