I kicked my husband out

Until he stops drinking and gets some help, I don't want him around. But our 5-year-old misses him!

By Cary Tennis
Published July 4, 2013 12:00AM (EDT)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

My husband and I have been married for nine years and have a 5-year-old son whom we both adore and another on the way. For the most part we get along, but every few months there will be an eruption in which he will accuse me of dominating him, and say that he hates his life and he feels lonely, misunderstood, ignored, and unappreciated in our relationship. Using rather uglier terms than that. I have considered his criticisms as seriously as I can and I honestly believe this is his problem, not mine. He doesn't tell me what he needs and then blames me for not providing it. For example, my husband had a rough childhood and in the last six years has lost three people close to him, including two in his immediate family. When I ask how he is feeling about this, he refuses to talk about it and tells me I cannot possibly understand because I haven't gone through what he has. Then he complains that he feels isolated and unloved. More than a year ago he agreed to see a therapist but he hasn't actually followed through.

At this point, I am completely fed up. I know he is genuinely suffering but I have run out of sympathy for him. I have done my best to see my role in our problems and tried to figure out what I can do to improve our marriage but my honest opinion is that his complaints are unreasonable and there's nothing I can do that will make things better. I will admit that I am far from perfect and I am not the most insightful of people so maybe I've totally misunderstood things, but I honestly feel like the primary problem here is that he's not taking responsibility for meeting his own emotional needs.

Anyway, so, I threw him out of the house tonight because he drunkenly called me a bitch and accused me of demeaning him by accepting a large gift from my parents to help pay off his student loans without consulting him (this occurred nine months ago, and we did discuss it, and he agreed to accept it, albeit reluctantly). I am thinking of telling him that he can't come back until he provides me with proof that he has begun seeing a therapist and he agrees to stop drinking (a whole 'nother issue). But my 5-year-old is freaking out because he adores his father.

I am not sure what to do at this point. Any advice?


Dear Confused,

My guess is that your husband has been suffering from painful emotions and has been drinking to cope with his feelings. It sounds like he feels angry and alone and hopeless. If he has not had the means to grieve his losses, and is beset by worries about the coming baby, he is in a very bad spot.

But while I have compassion for him, and feel that he is suffering, I think you have done the right thing in pushing the issue and making it clear that his behavior is too much for you. He needs to either get help with his emotions and his drinking, or work this out on his own and come back to you when he can act in a decent and respectful way.

The situation is not hopeless at all. I hope your ultimatum gives him the impetus he needs to get some help. Meanwhile, you need to take care of yourself, your child and your pregnancy.

Among the things you can do now are to get counseling for yourself, attend an Al-Anon meeting to find out how other people handle close relationships with people who have drinking problems, and see about setting up an appointment with a couples counselor where you and he could both get some support.

Life is hard and sometimes its burdens are too great and we become distorted in our thinking and feeling. We are not as tough as we think we are. Family deaths, uncompleted grieving and excessive drinking can really mess a person up to the point that he starts acting in ways that he doesn't intend.

This isn't the end of the world. He has had some hard blows and is having trouble dealing with them. He's going to have to reach a point where he is willing to accept the help of others. I hope he takes the message to heart and gets some help. He can go to any Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, any time, whether he is drinking or sober, and hear others talk about how they have dealt with similar things. He can also make an appointment with a therapist to see if that might work for him. He's got to do something.

Meanwhile, you are doing the right thing in protecting yourself. Let's hope this is the beginning of a change for him.

Cary Tennis

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