Ask Amy: Problem drinking creates problems in marriage
DEAR AMY: I am 63 and my husband (of six years) is 67. He drinks every night. Most nights he drinks to the point of stumbling, and not recalling what he says or does.
He says he doesn't remember his actions because he was so tired, not because he was so drunk.
In recent years, he gets so negative and grumpy in the evening, it really is quite difficult to ignore, and takes a toll on me — emotionally and physically.
He refuses to admit he has a problem, let alone seek help.
I am at a loss as to how to stay focused on me, and on keeping healthy and happy in my own life, despite the choices he's making for his life.
Divorce, right now, seems very difficult due to the virus and stock market losses, and resulting large losses of our retirement funds.
Is there anything I can do to work on getting and keeping myself happy, despite my environment at home? — WORRIED
DEAR WORRIED: I'm so sorry you are trapped with a husband who is both in the grip of alcohol and in a state of denial regarding the impact his drinking has on both of you. Obviously, if he is drinking to the point of intoxication every night, he is at increased risk for accidents and falls, in addition to the toll his drinking is taking on his marriage — and I assume, other relationships.
You should do your very best to steer clear of him when he's drinking. Retreat to another room with some reading, crafts, or entertainment. Connect with friends and family. Do not engage with him when he is drunk.
Given that he seems to forget what he has said and done, he is quite conveniently also absent from acknowledging and accepting the consequences of his actions.
Detachment is the art of lovingly letting go. Detachment will help you to cope.
Read "Let Go Now: Embrace Detachment as a Path to Freedom," by Karen Casey (2019, Conari Press). This is a book of meditations, lessons and anecdotes, (mainly with a Christian focus), that could help you to reflect on changes you can make — in your own life — to detach from your husband's drinking.
Wisdom I've returned to often in my own life is delivered by Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, in her practical, wise (and funny) lectures on detachment: "Don't Bite the Hook: Finding Freedom from Anger, Resentment, and other Destructive Emotions" (2007, Shambhala).
Al-Anon is the 12-step change agent for countless concerned "friends and family" of alcoholics. During the pandemic, the organization is hosting "electronic meetings" to substitute for physical meetings. Check al-anon.org.
I hope you notice that all of this information is pointed toward YOU.
Clarity on where you stand — in your own life — will help you to discern what you should do next.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I are expecting our first child — a daughter. We are over the moon and have begun planning baby names. Right now, my heart and soul are stuck on the classically beautiful name "Juliette."
I have a deceased aunt named Julie, who has left behind two daughters. We're not very close, but catch up occasionally. I am sure some family might assume the name Juliette would be in honor of my aunt Julie, but truth be told, I just really love that name and I see them as different names (albeit my future daughter could choose to go by Julie if she wanted).
I would feel terrible if this hurt my cousins in any way or made them feel they couldn't name their potential future daughters Julie, but I could see myself getting into a bind if I ask their permission and they say no.
I am, of course, open to other names but was wondering if you might have some advice on this? — EXCITED MOM
DEAR EXCITED: Juliette and Julie are different names (much as Amelie and Amy are). And yes, I agree that it is a lovely name.
I think the kindest way to frame this is to say, "We love the French name Juliette. One bonus is that it will always remind us of Aunt Julie."
DEAR AMY: "Curb Appeal" was wondering how to cope with neighbors who let their dogs poop on her lawn.
I couldn't believe you suggested fencing. Why should the homeowner pay the price (and go to the trouble) to protect their own property? — UPSET
DEAR UPSET: Honestly, this solution seemed easier than constant surveillance and/or rage.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.