Elephant in the Room

Many years ago, a friend of mine went to dinner with my husband and me. As we walked to our car afterward, she asked me “Does he always drink like that?” I said with a plastered smile and fake, casual voice, “Oh, no, he just drinks socially.” I was sad, angry and embarrassed, but I also was living in denial about his alcoholism. She encouraged me to try Al‑Anon, to which I responded, “Why should I go to Al‑Anon? He is the one with the problem.” That was all I was willing to admit. She briefly explained what Al‑Anon is, but she did not mention why I might qualify for it. That was the elephant in the room.

A couple of years later, on a Thursday night, all my rage and frustration of feeling helpless about his drinking rose up in me and exploded like a volcano. I was a madwoman, screeching and cursing him. I told him that I wished he would die and I wished I would die, too, because I couldn’t live in my own skin anymore. I recall that incident like an out of body experience. I thought, how could that woman be me? The next day, I gathered the courage to attend my first Al‑Anon meeting. What a gift…what a miracle. It had never occurred to me that I was powerless over alcohol. That first meeting had a profound and lasting effect on me. Meanwhile, my husband was mortified that I had gone to a meeting because he was afraid that now everyone would know that he was an alcoholic. We both believed he hid his drinking from the eyes of the public. Today I know that alcoholism truly is a family disease.

By Jeanine G., Louisiana

The Forum, June 2018


2018-05-30T09:29:44+00:00May 30, 2018|Categories: Alcoholic Spouse or Partner, The Forum|


  1. Kathy H. September 2018 at 9:03 am

    Omg…. I am sooooo shocked that what I just read here could have been written by me! I have said those things…but I am older (not first marriage) kids grown and on own… everyone thinks my life is perfect! I live in a pretty home. I no longer work and my spouse is respected, educated and has great job…but at home his drinking takes over and I am becoming an isolated caregiver. It hurts he chooses alcohol and other things over me. I am not happy and feel even if I have a serious medical problem and he controls finances if I want to be happy for the rest of my life I must leave and start over alone. Wow.

  2. Jennifer Q. September 2018 at 2:49 pm

    All, your stories inspire me to reach out.
    I am deeply in love with my partner. He is funny and smart and my best friend, mostly… We have fun together and he is easy to talk to and be around. We have a blended family of beautiful, talented kids. I love our family.
    But, my partner has a drinking problem. He drinks every day, at least 5 days a week, 3-4 craft beers / night, except at least 1, usually 2 times a week, he doesn’t stop and often gets loaded, and every other weekend it is in front of our kids. He can be either loving or resentful when he is drunk and I am usually the target. I used to engage but have been learning not to engage, which can sometimes make him more mad.

    He is a good task completer, makes dinner, gets kids to sport games, etc, but forgets schedules and fails to plan, is inconsistent with discipline and when I try to talk about these things, he gets angry, points his finger at me for being difficult, unreasonable and a bad, and nothing is resolved. If he is drinking, he gets mean.

    This Saturday he seemed to blackout while conscious and blamed me for his forgetfulness. He was unable to put kids to bed but fought me in front of them when I tried. It was late. (We had friends and family over to celebrate my birthday and his birthday.)
    Sunday, yesterday, he forgot what happened and was very loving; it was my birthday. I felt, and feel, angry, hurt, upset, disappointed, but trying to fake happiness to keep the peace. If I had said anything, the day would have been ruined for our family and I really wanted to have a nice day but I ended up feeling mostly sad and depressed and feeling the same today. I have 1000 things to do and can barely do them. I told my boss I am sick. I am starting to panic.
    There are other things happening outside of the normal challenges of working a full time demanding job, managing a house and supporting our children… My nephew is very ill and dying, I am working 2 jobs, trying to find job permanence, etc etc. I feel like the world is spinning and I want to come home to peace and a partner who is my parenting partner or at least willing to to talk, compromise and support, disagreeing only in private.
    The funny thing is, on the surface he seems good – makes dinner, picks up kids, grocery shops, etc.

  3. Anna September 2018 at 6:00 pm

    After many years of him choosing alcohol over me, I finally threw him out. It’s been a week, I’m sad, anxious, disappointed from the broken promises to me and our 17 year old daughter. I love him with all that I have but I can’t live like this any more. I saw my therapist today, and he said I definitely did the right thing. Going to an Al- Anon meeting tonight, A

  4. Nelly September 2018 at 3:25 pm

    All of these stories hit home. My husband, has been hiding his drinking problem for some time now. He will hide his beer in a ice chest in the garage, in his trunk in the back of the house. I am so tired of it! He will not admit to having a problem, he thinks I am overreacting. I found a almost empty 30 pack yesterday and he just pretends like there is nothing wrong. I feel like such an idiot for not being able to walk out on him.

  5. Joanne B. September 2018 at 10:38 pm

    Some of these stories have really resonated with me. I confronted my husband about his drinking a few weeks ago and told him it was a huge problem in our marriage. He admitted he had a problem, admitted he has tremors from drinking and possibly from medication and drinking combined. However, he said he was going to try to “control” it, and if he couldn’t control it, then he would quit. Even though he has cut back and has not drank at home, it’s been quite obvious since then that he cannot control it. He also said he would switch to “quality” since he’d be drinking less of it. A friend pointed out to me that IPA beers have much more alcohol content. She was right. He got crocked on six pack of IPAs today while boating with family. Another talk is needed. (Our kids are grown, and my daughter told me she’d be willing to do an intervention if necessary. ) I am so sick of this controlling my life!

  6. Tanya August 2018 at 12:39 pm

    My significant other was just found dead in the bathroom of his home from end stage alcoholism. I’m so angry, hurt, lost and alone without him. He chose the alcohol over me, his grown children and his grandchildren. I saw him only 4 weeks ago (long distance relationship) and I knew he was unwell. I did not know, that would be the last time I would see him. I am so very sad.

  7. Terri D August 2018 at 12:47 pm

    I know the elephant in the room so very well. No one of his family or friends will ever talk about his drinking problem. The only one that seems to care enough to bring it to the forefront of our marriage is me. I love him enough to talk about it and I love him enough to leave so he can figure out what he wants. I will accept it if the vodka wins because it will be easier for me to make my own life than it would to try to stop drinking on his own and fail.

  8. Sarah July 2018 at 12:33 am

    2 years been expressing concern. He didn’t think what he consumed was unusual so I doubted my instincts and tried not to ‘nag’. Blood work results came back with liver damage (high bilirubin, elevated liver enzyme levels, etc.). He finally sees that he’s damaging his body. But I’m scared he doesn’t realize he is alcoholic. He thinks cutting out alcohol will be easy. I’m not sure what to expect in the coming days and weeks when he doesn’t have his crutch. Is he going to do as he’s said before and not have any alcohol? Or will he come up with a reason he can handle just one to celebrate or unwind? Will he acknowledge he’s been over drinking? Or is it going to continue to feel like pulling teeth trying to talk about ‘it’?

  9. Bridgett July 2018 at 11:36 pm

    I’m so tired! I can leave him alone to his drinking but now he ends up coming home drunk and has even driven my kids while drinking. I can’t babysit him and because he is so sick he won’t even acknowledge that what he is doing is wrong. He tells me I am crazy and overreacting!

  10. Kaz July 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I have this problem, everyone thinks my hubby is so funny and so lovely. But he drinks so much, he gets embarrassing. Turns on me and then falls asleep. I’m so bored of our relationship. He is never going to get help or change. I don’t know what to do anymore, all I know is I’m miserable. We have kids together, if not I think it would have been over a long time ago. I hate the thought of him drinking because I know he won’t stop, and what’s to come. It’s like having another child.

  11. TJ June 2018 at 4:33 pm

    so I guess we stop hiding it from others? I’m going to try and disengage, if he drinks i’m calmly going to say “see you at home” and take myself home, i’m going to give up trying to control what I cannot…so he’ll be left at the social event explaining where I’ve gone.

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