Vintage Vicki: Do I Tell His Parents We're Getting Divorced?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have been married to my active-duty husband for six years. He has been my best friend since we were in middle school. Our timing was always off, but we knew that we were supposed to end up with one another.

Things, however, have not worked out for us. I told him that I am leaving him when we PCS to our next duty station in one month.

It's been a long time coming. He basically tapped out of our marriage about a year into it by distancing himself from me physically and emotionally. I thought that maybe he was having issues adjusting to having someone else in his home, but I now believe that he just can't reconcile himself to being beholden to someone else. 

He also has a drinking problem that was cultivated and perfected on his tours in Japan and Korea. It was easy for him to hide this from me while he was there and I was still stateside. He has only a couple of friends left, and they are both divorced alcoholics, too.

My parents, siblings and some friends know about the situation. None of them is surprised, and they've all been very encouraging with trying to help me in this sad process. 

My in-laws, however, have absolutely no idea. My husband has not told them anything. My mother-in-law calls about twice a week, and I can't keep talking to her knowing that she thinks everything is fine. I've asked him why he hasn't told them, and he has no answer.

I don't believe that it's my responsibility to tell my in-laws. If I don't tell them, I don’t think he will either and they will find out through gossip. What is your take on this? Do I keep my mouth shut? Do I have my mother "accidentally" mention it the next time they talk?

Sincerely, EJ

Dear EJ,

I’m very sorry to hear about what has happened in your marriage. It sounds like you have made up your mind and that a divorce is imminent.

This makes me especially sad because your families have known each other for so long.

According to research, knowing your spouse and his/her family for a long time prior to marriage is considered a protective factor for a great marriage.

Your husband’s excessive drinking could be making him close down. People may feel like the life of the party when they drink, but alcohol's effect is just the opposite: It’s a depressant. I would definitely say that he needs a family intervention to address his alcohol use.

The excessive alcohol use will cause problems with his health, his career and his finances. It has already ruined his marriage. It’s important that he knows this even if he doesn’t believe it yet.

EJ, because you are close to his family and have known them for a long time, and because of your husband’s alcohol use, I think it’s important that his family knows.

I think you should tell them because I don’t think he will. Moreover, I think you should be honest with them about his alcohol use and how they should try to encourage him to get help. I wish you all the best. I know it’s difficult. Please keep in touch with me.

Sincerely, Ms. Vicki

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