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Deciding Whether to Divorce Her Alcoholic Marine

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am struggling to decide whether to divorce my husband. He is a Marine and has been in the service for nine years. We have been married for five of those years and have two young children.

From early on in our marriage, I noticed he had a problem with alcohol. This is something I truly wish I would've paid more attention to while we were dating because there were many warning signs.

On the other hand, since we've been together, he has been a good provider and a good father for the most part. He never misses work and never has been in any sort of trouble because of his drinking.

It does, however, affect our marriage. He constantly gets so drunk that he passes out. This leaves me to be the sole caretaker for the kids and clean up after him while he recovers for the entire day afterward. He can also be an aggressive and unruly drunk.

I guess what has made me stay this long is that deep down I really do love him. He is the father to my children, and we do have great times together. His alcohol tendencies don't happen every day, so I guess I forgive him and try to move on.

We have been to marriage counseling twice. He has also gone to alcohol classes, and he has abstained from alcohol for long periods of time, but in the end we always seem to end up right where we left off with his drinking.

I am fed up and over this emotional roller coaster. I feel that I am ready to move on, but I am currently not employed and don't want to make a hasty decision regarding finances either.

Although I have a very supportive family and have a college education, I guess I just need some sound advice on whether I am making the right decision.

Sincerely,
To Divorce or Not To Divorce

Dear Divorce,

Yes, alcoholism can be detrimental to a relationship. I'm glad you are not skating around the true issue.

You see a notable difference when he consumes alcohol. From your letter, you are describing someone with a substance abuse disorder: drinks to excess, becomes belligerent, passes out, uses the next day to regroup, abstains for long periods of time only to start again at the same intensity of where he left off.

As you know, the difficult part about this is that you can't make him get help. He has to realize that he has a problem. I also think that it's just a matter of time before he starts having problems on his job. He needs an intervention.

Yes, this is a problem, but you describe someone totally different when he is sober: loving, caring, good provider and a person you have good times with.

I'm not making this your problem, but I think you should discuss this again with your husband. He needs more than education classes about alcohol, he needs treatment. You also need marriage therapy. If he won't go, then I think you should go to therapy alone because you need the insight and the support.

Another helpful resource is ALANON. They will provide advice, tips and resources to help you. They understand that it's difficult when you have a family member who is abusing alcohol or another substance.

I know this is a difficult situation. Before you talk to your husband, find out what services are available on your military installation and then discuss the options with him. Lastly, this may be a good time for you to think about career and educational options even if you stay in your marriage. Let me hear from you when you can.

-- Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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