Dear Carolyn: I understand what you often say with regard to always disapproving of your partner’s habits. But, what if your wife is a functional alcoholic?
She drinks bottles of vodka every week (the jug bottles) and is drunk and passed out six nights out of seven. Guess what? I disapprove and I let her know it.
We have three small kids so it’s not like I’m going anywhere. So what am I supposed to do? I’m not going to tell her it’s OK. I’m not going to leave. So I tell her it’s wrong and it falls on deaf ears. I don’t harangue her about it. But when she complains about not being able to get up or always being tired (or whatever else), I am more than happy to remind her about the eight shots she did last night.
She drinks alone, by the way. I used to drink but she ruined it for me. I’m sure I sound disapproving and bitter but if your significant other were falling-down drunk and slurring their words six nights out of seven, you might feel the same.
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Wait — what? “It’s not like I’m going anywhere”?!
There has always been a certain-harm exception to my advice to account for abuse and untreated addiction. You’re living one of those exceptions, and it’s time to do a lot more than throw words at deaf ears then accept your defeat.
You can’t save her unless she agrees to save herself, but you can save your children. You must insist: She either abuses alcohol or lives with you and the kids, but not both.
I would probably feel the same as you do, yes — disapproving and bitter — but I’d need to shake that off. An alcoholic is ill, and your kids are getting exposed to your wife’s illness at great risk to their own health. You are, too; it’s in your word choice. Don’t falling down and passing out take the functional out of functional alcoholic?
Please start by calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline: 800-662-HELP (4357). I also recommend consulting with a family attorney, because ensuring the kids’ safety through this process is paramount. You don’t want them in the sole care of someone getting her judgment from a shot glass.
And, don’t forget self-care. The hotline will have resources for you, too. You must act decisively, carefully, now.
Dear Carolyn: Although I knew better, I dated a co-worker for several years. Last year we broke up, as I had some major personal issues to deal with.
Well, a year later, I’ve taken care of everything and am (almost) better than ever — the one exception, I lost my best friend. I tried opening communication six months ago, but Ex essentially told me to go pound sand.
Well, Ex’s birthday is coming up. A dear co-worker (the office mother hen) thinks I should try again to open up communication by wishing Ex a happy birthday and giving her the gift I didn’t give her last year. I honestly don’t think that’s a good idea because my “well wishes” would probably be a bribe to get her talking, with hope to reconcile.
The ball has been in Ex’s court for over six months without word. We rarely see each other in the office (thank God), and I don’t get a great vibe when we do. I think the best birthday present would be silence, but Mother Hen is making me reconsider. Any suggestions?
Yes. Don’t accept guidance from anyone who fits the description of “office mother hen.”
I say this, by the way, as a fan of big personalities, yentas, hopeless romantics, barnyard stand-ins and anyone else who shoots a bright thread through the tapestry of life. But actually acting on what they say because it’s what you want to hear? Different story.
Since you apparently left the door back into your life wide open, and since Ex has outright declined to use it, seizing her birthday as an excuse to push the idea is not a best-friendly thing to do. It would be about you, on a day and with a gesture that’s supposed to be about her. That’s tone-deaf enough to cost you whatever slim chance you’ve got.
If getting in touch with her is ever a good idea – something you'll know when the “vibe” improves – then it'll be a good idea on a random Tuesday, not on whatever special day/holiday lends an air of “Once upon a time.”
Dear Carolyn: When Dad is asked for adult daughter’s hand in marriage, does Dad just give his blessing or does Dad grill prospective groom?
I sincerely hope Dad says, “That’s entirely up to her.”
There is nothing sweet about a “tradition” that has two men who are not her employers or parole officers negotiating the terms by which an adult woman will live. Stake, find the heart of this vampire, please.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.