I Want My Husband to Stop Drinking Heavily

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a part-time worker in my 50s. I have a family member who needs care, but I have managed to make time to work for the first time in 20 years. I feel joy and satisfaction in my work every day.

I would like some advice about my husband, who is in his late 50s, because he drinks excessively.

My husband is a company employee and is nearing retirement. He has loved to drink since he was young. When he starts drinking, it’s hard for him to stop. He drinks heavily, gets drunk and, after returning home, he has urinary incontinence and vomits.

He lies to hide such behavior, and when questioned, he loses his temper and becomes angry.

Although he has taken a pledge several times by writing, “I will not drink excessively anymore,” he has never kept that vow.

My husband went to a specialist hospital and was told that he was in the early stages of alcohol dependence, but he stopped going there, saying it was pointless.

Now, I’m not so much concerned about his health, but I don’t want to be bothered by his behavior anymore. How can I get him to stop drinking heavily?

I feel that if this situation continues, it will be difficult for us to spend our retirement together. I am also considering divorce after retirement.

— F, Tokyo

Dear Ms. F:

I understand that you are feeling fulfilled as you have started working for the first time in 20 years while taking care of your family. From your writing, I can tell that you are living your life in your own way, making good decisions about your feelings and your time.

Because you live this way, I know that you want your husband, who has lost his control for himself, to discipline himself and stop drinking heavily. However, in general, it is difficult to change another person’s thoughts and behavior.

I think the more you tell him to stop drinking, the more likely he is to rebel and increase the frequency for drinking and the amount of alcohol he consumes.

As a result, you and your husband will begin to repel each other, and the relationship will grow cold.

That said, not telling your husband about what you think means that you are implicitly approving his behavior.

If you are considering divorce, I suggest that you tell him what you think and recommend that he go to a specialist hospital.

I suggest that you tell him that if he goes to a hospital and stops drinking heavily, you will help him as much as you can. You can add that if he does not do so, you will have no choice but to divorce him.

After that, how about listening to your husband’s thoughts and deciding what to do in the future?

— Yutaka Ono, psychiatrist