Feeling let down by my husband

Hi all,

I’m new here although i have attended both drug and alcohol and mental health carers groups in the past regarding my husband.

I’m just messaging this morning because i have just had a little break away alone. Getting back, my home situation has hit me right in the face because I’ve been out of it for a few days!

A brief summary: Been with hubby nearly 30 years. Now in our late 40’s. Two grown up kids about to leave home. He’s been on anti-depressants on and off for about 20 years. He’s always been a drinker and taken some drugs and regular marijuana. The M has stopped recently (as far as I know) at my insistence as it does not help his MH. He is not an alcoholic but if he drinks he has difficulty stopping and will get into all sorts of bother. This year he’s had two fights, vomits in his sleep, sometimes wets in our bed or the sofa. This used to be weekly but now is monthly. Our relationship is poor. We’re co-existing really. We went to relate last year which was helpful but he just agreed with everything i said, leaving the impression with the counsellor that he was open to change and helping himself, when really it was just lip service. I recognise that over the years i have enabled some of his behaviour and i try not to do this now. The counsellor told me about the drama triangle and i recognise this pattern in our relationship.

But this is all complicated by his MH. I sometimes wonder if he has a personality disorder and his best friend has questioned bipolar. His Gp has been rubbish and just keeps filling the venlafaxine prescription without proper follow up - he’s been on it constantly for about 15 years! When he attends the gp he tells him everything is ok just like he did the relate counsellor. It’s not their place to mistrust him, he needs to recognise his need himself.

He holds down a job but he has opted out of family life. The kids say they don’t have a relationship with him. He just watches TV and goes out alone. He does ask me to go with him but I get anxious because i never know whats going to happen.

So, I went away for a few days because life has been hectic and i needed a break. He supported this and encouraged me to go. I though that was great. BUT, i called Tuesday like people do when they are away. He was at the pub, he’d got our son-in-law to drop him off. He inevitably drank too much, woke them up when he got in at 1 am by actually going in their room, woke up choking on his own vomit in the night, was late for work and got up and drove! He forgot to put the rubbish out (the bin is now got maggots in it) and hasn’t walked our two dogs the whole 5 days.

I know this because it was obvious when i spoke to him on the phone that he was already half-cut. When i got home his pillow had a brown stain on it where he had tried to wipe the puke off. I asked him about it and he said he had a choking fit. I mentioned it to my daughter and she told me she woke in the morning and found him laying in his own puke. She tried to wake him but she couldn’t get him to respond although it was obvious he was alive. She thinks he was pretending so he didn’t have to face her. She said she was so mad with him for doing that while i was away. But she was also worried and feeling sick all day at work that she had left him and he might be dead! Of course, he was fine but he hasn’t mentioned it to her since which is his tactic. If he ignores it it didn’t happen. My son in law has said he will not give him a lift to the pub again as he now sees how he ended up enabling him to go out and drink. It’s hard that we have to think this way with him. It’s normal to kindly offer someone a lift without have to think of these consequences! And both my daughter and son in law have ended up feeling that they did something wrong and that they need to change their behaviour when actually it’s him!

I’m feeling very frustrated and angry right now because I feel let down. I want to tell him i am disgusted by his behaviour but still even after all this I know that i find it impossible to do that. I will sugar coat it. He will say our daughter is telling tales on him or that isn’t what happened. He says i am his brakes but I will not be that person anymore. He needs to face up to his own problems and deal with the reason he behaves like this. I’ve previously said to him that if he wants to live that way then that is ok but i don’t want to so we would need to separate or change things. But the reality is, he said he wants to stay together but every opportunity he gets he reverts, He hasn’t really changed anything. It feels like he’s pretending for my benefit or more likely his own.

Am I his carer? I don’t feel i am really. Am i a preventative for his own self-destruction. Yes, i think I am. That probably sounds a bit dramatic!

Thanks for reading. Maybe others of you will understand or have been in this situation.

Hi Sunny … welcome to an extremely quiet forum as I type.

Your circumstances are somewhat horrific to say the very least.

I have no first or third hand experiences in the many issues raised.

Others will be along to add their insights.

I just did not want you left swinging in the wind.

Hi Sunny

It is so normal to only see how bad things are once you have stepped away for a little while. I also think that you are right in that the only way he is ever going to change his behaviour is if he chooses to. However, you are in control of yourself and your destiny, so maybe now is the time to focus on you. You say he doesn’t want to separate - of course he doesn’t - he has you to clear up after him all the time. But do you want to leave? You do have the right to decide to if that is what you think is best.

Have you looked into co-dependency? There is a great support group out there called CODA, that I found so great when I was in a strange tangle of destructive family behaviour. (If you can’t find a group, there is loads online about it, and I highly recommend the book “Co-dependency for Dummies”) I did actually leave my husband for a while, but by making changes for myself and reorganising my own thinking and behaviour, we eventually managed to get back together on much better terms.

In terms of the mental health, I think your husbands story is unfortunately quite normal. The fact that he manages to hold down a job and perform social norms will probably exclude him from accessing any secondary care in the mental health system, as they are sinking under the weight of really severe patients who cannot function normally. I expect there will be some services offered locally to you that he can self-refer into, but again, they are only going to be useful he he decides he wants to do it and engages with them.

I think the only advice I can really say is use this new realisation to focus on you, what you want, what you need. It might also be helpful to your husband to see it can be done.

Feel free to carry on ranting on here - letting it out is one of the best forms of therapy

Definitely a carer.

Did husband wash the pillow? No!

I’m most concerned for your daughter, she’s just had a horrific experience, which she may never forget. Why not put her first and leave?
Why sugar coat anything at all?

Thank you for your replies, they are all helpful!

I feel a bit sick reading them because i know they are the truth and much like my husband, i am probably in denial too. When you live with a situation for so long it becomes your norm and you don’t see it anymore. Thank you for being straight with me.

I looked at co-dependency and i recognise myself when reading about that. I’ve had quite a lot of counselling over the years, I know i’m the one who needs to act but it is so hard. I will see if i can find a CoDA forum. My break away has helped me recognise i don’t need this relationship to be happy.

Bowlingbun, you are right, why sugar coat it? I would say its a learnt behaviour to avoid conflict. And an element of guilt that he has depression and what i am saying will hurt him. He will be and act hurt and he will say he will change or he will say it is all in my head. Most likely things won’t really change because he doesn’t want to. I’m worried about what would happen to him if he self-destructs. My daughter is leaving home very soon, she can not wait. She says she is worried about leaving me and I feel BAD about that. I’ve not been a great role model to her in this respect. Thankfully she has a wonderful partner.

I’m feeling a bit stronger now x

I think you need to put yourself first and tell him to leave, you need to think about yourself and your own quality of life.
My Dad was an alcoholic and I know how embarrassing and bad things can get.
Have you tried Al Anon for yourself, they are a support group for people who are living with alcoholics.

Hi Sunny, and thanks for your post.
I read the thread a couple of days ago, and was then prompted to go and read up on codependency.

I don’t have any advice to give specifically, but felt I should write so that it’s clear there are others in the same place, and can understand how challenging the decisions are. Everyone who has contributed on this forum has a lot to offer, and I was grateful earlier on this year for their uncritical support - even if I didn’t follow all the advice!

For my case, I’ve been a carer for my wife now for about 30 years. At first, I was optimistic that things would change, but…
My eldest daughter is probably the only person who really knows how bad things are, but she left home a year ago and tries to avoid coming back (unless her mum is out!). My youngest is now 14, and keeping her safe and mentally healthy has become my primary focus (I’ve done a better job than I did with my eldest, but still struggled). My wife gets very jealous of any time I spend on my daughters and becomes very passive-aggressive. And, occasionally, aggressive-aggressive - but it’s very difficult to admit to this as a man.

This last year or two, I have recognised my issues and started resolving them. Not quickly, but at speed I am comfortable with. I have encouraged and supported my eldest daughter and enabled her to leave home. She is now doing really well and I am outrageously proud of her. My youngest will leave home in 4 years, to go to uni probably. Currently, I am planning on that being the end of my marriage. The way things are going at the moment though, it may come sooner.

The hardest thing for me, is to let go of the responsibility for my wife. She has made many attempts to end her own life, but I’ve always been there to support (although now it does look a lot like enabling!). And I’m certain that she will use this control method again, but I know that I can live with myself and the consequences (now). My concern is how my youngest daughter will be affected, and balancing this against the ongoing MH damage being done by living with her narcissistic, aggressive depressive mother).

To steal directly from your message…
Am I her carer? I don’t feel I am really.
Am i a preventative for her own self-destruction. Yes, i think I am.
To take it further:
Am I her husband and partner? Only legally.

It sounds like you’re starting to put yourself front and centre, which after so many years is what you deserve!
One warning: after my initial acts of rebellion, my wife keeps trying different ways to re-assert control, but I’m smothering them one-by-one. I’m not about to relinquish the happiness I’ve finally found :slight_smile:
Keep strong, and keep going.