Here’s a great letter from Jan:
Dear Dr. Karen,
How do I help my husband, who is an alcoholic? I’m at my wits end. I’m tired of being married to him but I stay because I want to keep my family together.
What you face is uncomfortable and unfortunately very common. Do you ever wonder why you’re in this situation?
Here’s the answer:
You attracted an alcoholic husband so that you could heal a deep part of yourself that needs healing from childhood. Your husband is a mirror. He represents a part of you that you have rejected and do not love fully.
We call that The Shadow. To learn more about the shadow, I highly recommend that you view this film (preferably with your husband when he is sober and if he is agreeable), The Shadow Effect.
Everyone that we attract into our lives represents different facets of ourselves (the Law of Attraction). Our relationships can either be life-affirming or not. Some of the people we attract are representations of our Shadow. Your husband is one of those people.
I’m assuming you have children when you refer to your “family”. Your number one responsibility as a parent to your child is to lovingly model what you would like their lives to be. No matter what you SAY or TELL them to do, they will, on some level, model after one parent or the other (or both).
So what are you modeling right now?
Are you happy? I can see that you are not. So as each day goes by, you are teaching your children how to be unhappy. This may sound harsh, but I want to level with you.
Unless you get some support (and I mean MAJOR support) in your life right now to make some changes, you are literally sentencing those you love, your children, to a very difficult future. They will not have a healthy model of how to be happy. They will not have a healthy model of how to have a healthy love relationship.
You are so afraid of breaking up your family that you suffer from your inaction to do anything about it. Guess what? You’re family is already breaking up. You just can’t see it because you are willing to live this lie in front of your children in the guise that it is good for them.
It is not.
They know. Maybe not on a conscious level, but the negativity is seeping into their pores and you are letting it happen.
Do you love them enough to change?
Do you love them enough to do whatever it takes to figure out how to be happy so that you can model authentic joy and love?
Do you love them enough to stop waiting for your husband to change and instead, get some real help so that you can live the life of joy you were meant to live.
If what I say causes tears, I understand. If you were standing here in front of me, I would give you a hug, then hold you by the shoulders and look deeply into your eyes and tell you,
“You can do it. You are not alone. I believe in you. You will find a way.”
So to answer your question more directly, here’s my advice:
1. Get support. Call a trusted friend and have her take you to an Al-Anon meeting every week. You won’t feel like you’re all alone anymore.
2. Read Melanie Beatty’s book, Co-Dependent No More starting tomorrow. And when you’re done, read the next book, Beyond Co-dependency. You can find these at the Law of Attraction in Love Bookstore.
3. Write down your intentions on exactly HOW you want your life to look…and make sure none of what you wish to manifest depends on your husband changing anything.
4. With the support of your Al-Anon or a counselor, take action to change your life. Your dream will not manifest without action.
From the patients I have had that have gone through what you’re going through and come out the other side, I can share with you that “breaking up your family” is one of the least harmful things you can do.
I can guarantee your husband WON’T change if you don’t. If you do decide to leave him, expect begging and pleading and promises to change. If you love him sober and wish to be with him that way, then consider waiting for at least six months of sobriety and AA meetings (for him) before you even entertain the notion of moving back in with him.
Sometimes, when an alcoholic knows that he is going to lose everything he value most, it is the motivation they need to change. Sometimes, it isn’t enough. But if that’s the case, then you know that you and the children don’t rank (and why would you want to stay in that kind of relationship anyway?)
I wish you the best. Go get some help today!
Dr. Karen Kan