Sent: Friday, June 25, 1999
Dear Dr. Irene,
I have been married for almost 11 years. My husband came from a
dysfunctional family. His mother was an alcoholic although she
never got counseling or joined AA she did stop drinking for the last 15
years of her life. My husband has had two back surgeries but he
still is not cured and is in pain a lot. My concern is that he is
medicating himself for his emotional and physical pain. He drinks
about 10-14 beers in one sitting twice a week. In the past year
and a half, his drinking has increased. Up until about 2
weeks ago, he has been angry, sullen, and verbally abusive to me.
Now he is changing and being nicer to me. But he still is
drinking. I believe he feels he is losing me.
Over the past 4 years, I
have had a close male friend who has been very kind to me. Recently
I went on a one-day rafting trip with my friend...I am not having a physical
relationship with this friend although I feel very close to him. Also, I am
finishing a Master's program and I will be done next month. I will get a raise in
My problem is that I am too soft. I am doing the majority of
the housework, and paying most of the bills---my husband is on disability
for his back. I work full time and have been in a Master's program. But
I feel sorry for him when he tries to be nice. My plan is to take our 5-yr-old daughter and move out once I've
got my Master's.
I cry all the time when people aren't watching...It's so hard to end
a 15 yr relationship. How do I know I'm doing the right thing?
You are describing your
husband's alcoholism, specifically binge drinking. Your husband has
quite a tolerance.
So, you are the hard worker
in your family while your husband sits in self-pity and self-medicates.
He has been verbally abusive until recently. You have a
"close" male friend and your husband is feeling threatened and
You know you are "too
soft," and are therefore prone to manipulation. You know what you want to do,
yet you want reassurance that you are doing the "right thing."
I cannot give you permission,
let you off the hook, or absolve you of your guilt. Only you can
do that. I can tell you that you are writing a letter that almost begs to
be advised to leave. You are saying, "Help me overcome my guilt so I can
Does the guilt make any
sense to you? Is it rational or irrational? If you are "too
soft," take care of that problem! Is softness your
"button," and how people control you? I
can advise you "To handle yourself, use your head; To handle
others, use you heart."
You are the author of your
life. The "right thing" is what is right for you. Take
care of yourself; you are the only one you have.
Good luck, Dr. Irene