Last Call

I have been married to my husband for over 30 years. He has never been a man to touch, caress or kiss outside lovemaking. His interest in maintaining a sexual relationship with me waned shortly after we stopped having children. Pornography meets his needs in that area.

Nothing is allowed to come between him and his drinking. This, he tells me, is his right after a hard week’s work, and besides, everyone drinks don’t they? Of course he tells me he rarely gets drunk no matter how much he drinks.

Slurring your words, being unsteady on your feet, and being belligerent seemingly don’t count as being drunk. It hurt me deeply that, in the context of binge-drinking, he tried to bed my niece.

After a huge drinking session with his sister, they stayed overnight in a local park. I am told he wanted to have sex with her there. He denied both incidents saying, the women involved were both drunk too. But he admits he himself was too drunk to know what actually played out.

He and his sister have now formed a suicide pact. That much he does own.

I supported my husband through depression and cancer. After 30 years and five lots of marriage counseling, I want to call it quits. But he is refusing to budge and will not leave my bed. He says he can turn it all around.

I would appreciate your advice. But I think you will tell me I have enabled all this by staying so long.

~ Bonnie

Bonnie, the pact your husband and his sister made is often called emotional blackmail. More accurately, though, it is hostage-taking. Instead of grabbing someone off the street, they took themselves hostage and sent you a ransom note.

What a simple-minded plot. Your husband thinks it will keep you from leaving while not requiring him to change. But your solution is easy. Don’t pay the ransom. Enough is enough.

There is one part of enabling you need to own. Your husband should have had his comeuppance years ago. Letting people get away with inappropriate behavior doesn’t help them, it hurts them. Your husband won’t think, “I can’t believe I got away with this for 30 years.” He will think, “I want to get away with this for the rest of my life.”

He’s been able to act without consequence, except for some counseling which he ignored. Alcoholism runs in his family. You can’t believe wild claims of “I can turn this around” from someone who is a blackout drunk.

If the only consequence for speeding was a fine and higher insurance premium, some wealthy people might speed all the time. It’s taking away their driver’s license that stops them. Similarly, your husband’s marriage license has never been in jeopardy before. Expect him to be angry.

So you must do two things. First, determine how to part from him in a safe way. That in itself can make you feel your life is out of control.

Second, you must set up new mileposts. That means formulating new plans and engaging in new activities. At a minimum that means getting advice from a lawyer, a social service agency or women’s center, and perhaps law enforcement.

Your husband’s way of coping with just about anything is, I’d rather be drunk. Your way of coping must be different. Decide on concrete steps to take. Determine how to part from him with the assets and emotional support you will need to stay on your new path.

Without a detailed plan you will founder.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Direct Answers from Wayne and Tamara – Column for the week of February 26, 2018

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