How To Handle Divorcing An Alcoholic Husband

Article Submitted By: Debbie

I am approaching my divorce from my alcoholic husband on August 22nd and greatly in need of advice. In the disclosure process they have found out in addition to all the lies and cheating on me with escorts he has taken loans from his annuity and not reporting on our income tax over the last 15 years of our marriage. I believe he is also going to fight me for the house. He seems to be continuing to get checks from the annuity to “wipe it out”. It has been brought to my attorney’s attention, but I needed that money in there to swap him for it for the home.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I should speak and act during the divorce negotiations so I do not disclose my anger at finding out about all the additional lies and things he hid from me? Do I just answer honestly in simple short responses? Do I ignore it when he blatantly lies which I’m sure he will.

I need all the support and suggestions I can get to help me through this next week.

Worst thing is though that after we are divorced we may still be in the same home because his name still on title. I am expecting him to start bringing his “drinking buddies” and maybe even escorts to the home while I still live there fighting for it. I need suggestions on how to continue my no contact until this is all done.

How can an alcoholic be so cunning & especially him as he has trouble reading due to dyslexia as well, but he’s been filling out and removing money for years. How do you deal with this?

Hoping for some help.

JC: Debbie, thanks for submitting your story. The best advice I can give you is to let your attorney handle things. Hopefully you have a divorce attorney that you can moderately trust, they should coach you on what to say and what not to say.

As for keeping emotions in check such as anger, it’s hardly possible to in this sort of situation. Our bodies are overridden with too many emotions to keep our attitudes in a self-controlled state all of the time. You are going to have to accept many things that you cannot change and ask God for the courage to change things that you can.  Besides, it sound like there are good reasons for being angry.

Letting go of hurtful events usually requires forgiving the person who has wronged us. It can take years for  people to reach that point of willingly forgiving someone.  You may want to refer to this article: Forgiving An Alcoholic for a little encouragement.

Above all, go easy on yourself. Be gentle and kind to Debbie. You are going through one of the most difficult things in life, “divorce.” It’s even more challenging when you are ending a relationship with an alcoholic. Usually the insane behaviors of the alcoholic intensify greatly during this sort of situation. Stay closely connected in Al-anon and to God and things will be easier to deal with.

17 comments to How To Handle Divorcing An Alcoholic Husband

  • carolyn

    I had an ex dishonest husband… Im married to a man with a drinking prob. but he is not dishonest….however with my ex…my lawyer took evidence to judge to give me an emergency protection order against him….you have to take any kind of evidence you have for your lawyer to submit to court…to judge….I had pictures from doctor of bruises he gave me….if you have anything like this…or documentation of emergency room care…or doctor…or even emotional trama from records in counseling of abuse.. maybe witnesses testimonies…go to a lawyer & tell him of all abuse…& evidence of any kind you have my state it was up to judge to issue the emergency protection against husband…dont tell your husband… just do it…..the sheriff will come to door serve him order he will have to leave & won’t be able to get within so many feet of you & no contact….sorry this happened to you…turn to God for favor & strength to get through this delima …Ill pray for you…God bless!

  • SC

    I agree with JC, let your attorney handle things.

    As far as your emotions, if you do not want to disclose your anger:
    Take the high road.
    Try not to show emotions (from the inside out).
    Be honest (always stay true to yourself; it will keep you at peace on the inside).
    Say what you need to say in as few words as possible (the more we talk the more faults they can find).

    If you want to ignore his lies.
    What he’s done, he has already done and nothing can change that (you both know he lies, that is on him).
    Keep in mind; you are doing this for you not him (this will help you from not feeling like your backing down).
    After it is all over with, you can always send him one last email to express your feelings.

    This is just my advice, take what you want and leave the rest.
    I understand that it is easier said than done, but how you feel is what is important right now. This Too Shall Pass.

  • kaz

    Hey Debbie, You say these are negotiations? Then treat it as such. Make a plan for the things you want. Write them down and take the list with you. Think about what you are prepared to negotiate on and what you are not prepared to negotiate on. This may give you a sense of control. It sounds to me like this is the first step. You have plenty of time. If you need to leave the room or take time out to compose yourself, ask your attorney if these things are permitted. He will know how this process works.. Ask him. Take your time.. Breathe .. and smile 🙂 … you’re not alone. You say he might bring his drinking buddies home? Your right, he might, but it hasn’t happened yet. Have a think about how you would like to handle that when and if it happens, but don’t worry too much about it until it does. Stay focussed on the one issue that’s important to you at this moment. It’s much easier to deal with one thing at a time rather than 10 ‘what if’s’ .. good luck. You know we’ll all be thinking of you.

  • Ross

    I too have had a similar situation. My husband relapsed last year, arranged for the IRA to be cashed out and sent to another branch in another city, so i wouldnt see it.Spent it in less than six months, or so he says.Cheated on me-and i cant tell you i feel confident that he hasnt every time he’s relapsed.Just hid it . I was told that half of our retirement was mine and he would probably have to pay that back-your attorney would know.Good luck Im sorry for your pain! I can understand that.

  • Debbi

    Update to my Post:

    My divorce from husband of 15 years who treated me horribly was yesterday. Basically my attorney bailed on me and in order to just keep my house I had to give up so many things

    At one point in the negotiations he demanded his attorney approach me and my attorney and in addition to requests to replace even fishing rods he accused me of stealing from him he even demanded that I have his horse destroyed because he wouldn’t even bother trying to find it a home and that I should be the one to do it and pay for the vet and removal of the body. I heard 2 people within hearing distance even gasp when the attorney said this. I caved and saved this old horse so now another expense.

    He got to me through animals and everything else and I feel like such a “wuss”. So, now I get stuck with all the bills because I guess I “have a heart”. Now I am beating myself up today and should have stood more firm but he even put our animals lives on the line.

    And even better the court gives him another 30 days to live rent-free at the house that’s soon to be mine so life with him is still not over.

    Did I do the right thing or should I have stood my ground even when he put an innocent animal’s life on the line?

    How much crueler can these people get?

    Why do the court systems seem to help them?

    Do alcoholics also have narcissistic tendencies or is this all just the alcohol making him be so cruel.

  • Bart

    Debi, I’m guessing you are not the person who wrote the article? In any case, we do the best we can to stay present in the moment. In the end, I have to know in my heart that I did the right thing. If saving a horses life is what I find in my heart to do, then I have to know that I did the right thing.

    Go easy on yourself. You are beginning a new life and believe you and me in a little while down the road you are going to be living in an amazing amount of peace.

    Take extra care of yourself right now and enjoy every moment you spend with the horse, friends or kids if you have any. This is your day, create something beautiful!

  • Michelle

    I am a bit confused on the divorce thing. I love my husband but I do not have a life that I enjoy. My concern is if I leave, he will not be able to manage things on his own, but if I stay am I not enabling his drinking? Not sure what the right thing is to do. As I try to go on with my life he becomes more needy and child like. Any thoughts here?

  • Sally

    Michelle, do you hear what you’ve said? You’ve said that you’re afraid your husband won’t be able to manage things. What things? He’s a grown man, and no, when he’s drunk, he probably won’t manage things well. if he doesn’t, he will have to deal with the consequences of not handling them. If he were truly disabled somehow, you’d gladly take care of him. The truth is, he’s not in need of your help, he simply finds it easier to leave the business of living as an adult to you, while he shirks his responsibilities. Now, imagine another year, or 5 years or 10 years of the same existence you have now, with a drunk who’s getting older and meaner and more miserable to be around. Is this the life you want for yourself? Are you so afraid of living your own life that you’re willing to sacrifice yourself for your husband’s version of a life? Do you really think he’s going to someday wake up, get sober and thank you for what you’ve thrown away? Miracles happen everyday, but seldom with drunks. 75% or more never seek treatment. That’s 3 out of every 4 drunks lives and dies a drunk. Of course your husband gets needy as you get on with your life. He has no real life outside of a glass bottle. Drunks are invariably bone lazy, and content to let any and everyone do the hard work of living in this world and taking care of the things that go with everyday life.

    Make a list – two columns. On one side list all the good times or good things about your husband. On the other, list all the bad times you’ve lived through with your drunk and bad thing he’s done to you and others because of him being a drunk. Then decide if you can live the rest of your life living with such a person.

    We may love many people in the course of our lives, but not all of those people are good to us or for us. And sometimes we’re not the people we want to be or could be as long as we allow those who aren’t good for us or to us to continue to be in our lives.

    A drunk is a master of manipulation and well versed in the use of guilt to get us to do what they want us to do. Anyone who would use such underhanded means to use us for their benefit is not someone who truly loves us. A person who loves us will only want what’s best for us and only do kind, considerate things to and for us. Yes, nobody’s perfect and we all make mistakes, but a drunk makes as many in a week as the rest of us do in a year or 10 years.

    You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you think things over and decide to live a life that is filled with more joy than you can have now while you live with your drunk.

  • Elisabeth

    Just found this page and am going through breakup with AF. Sally, your answer to Michelle is so spot on and helpful to me as well, as I deal with the heartbreak of ending a 15 year relationship. Thank you.

  • Sofia

    I need help as well.
    I love my husband. And I care very much about him. But he is an alcoholic and a drug addict, and has been living his life at the expense of mine since we’ve been married. Almost 2 years now. Over a month ago, his progressive problem with alcohol escalated into a violent situation and I knew it was time. I took my baby and left, and I’m not going back. He has done NOTHING to try to fix things with me. He’s been angry, isolated, resentful, dishonest, and refuses to prove that he’s “sober and clean”.
    I had to file for a protective order 2 days ago when he sent me a text saying he had a signed court order to take my baby from me when I know it’s not safe at my former home, and I know he’s still drinking. After the order was granted, I found out he had lied. There was no court order ever issued on his behalf. I did what I had to do to protect my baby and myself. He has a long history of major problems with alcohol and drugs, anger, and dishonesty. I love him but I was so unhappy and he was so unpredictable. His family (alcoholism is a problem throughout) “hate” me for what I’ve “done to him” by filing the order. I know I did the right thing… but I’m just even more heartbroken now that his family has turned on me. He has a lot of them fooled, but even more are in denial. I KNOW in my heart I did the right thing. So why do I carry this burden of GUILT and still do not know how to live my life without worrying about his?

  • carollyn

    Hi! Im tryng to move on ..after divorcing my ah….a year ago…..guilt must be a natural thing to feel….I. did also….I push it out of my head ever time that thought enters it….one reason in my case is that I felt responsible for him after all I took a vow when I married him….so I felt like maybe I should stay & care for him….he needed me…but nothing i did & I tried everthng I could think of changed his behavior….I smpathized with him.(to begin with)…with his excuses of being a victim abused in this situation or that or by this person or that one…..he just drank more…I was being enabling…undestandng why he drank….poor baby….then when I put my foot down said no more .(he tried to make me the bad guy).he began blaming me ……pushing my buttons to argue every chance he could.&if I responded to defend myself verbally…that…gave him more reasons to drink…..when I didnt respond it was my fault also….cause hed say (“I was taking my crayons & leaving like a little kid)…hed say are u just going to let me say that..he wanted to argue..he was an angry drunk…. then a dry drunk….when he didnt drink…he abused me also….there were times hed say your right Ill stop but he hid the liquor…he started hating me it seemed….he wanted an enabler..even after I filed I reached out to him told him if hed get help for his intense anger & alcohol/mary jane/perscrp drug use whatever elese he did I didnt find out about ..I said Id postpone divorce …he never responded…so the divoce went through….he didn’t want to stop…I was afraid of him…he didn’t know what he was doing sometimes……..u soooo did the right thing..
    especially since u have kids ..u have no choice…he does….but he made the choice to continue abuse like mine did….they abandoned us not vice versa…..My ah also fooled his friends/family. this makes them feel better bout themselves & less guilty keeps them in denial …about them not being the problem .its someone else or situation they play victum (have u notiiced?).I. always wondered how can he be so nice to them but not his own wife? U need to come to grips with the fact that he abandoned u & your kids .
    by chosing drinkng over u…& them….& dont feel guilt if he pointed finger at u or kids for his drinking its just another excuse in their victum mentality mode……I hope this helps…I see these things so much clearer now than year ago…I was sruggling a lot with what ifs….but the thing with alcoholics is …only they can change… the what ifs with their behavior…we can’t….we can only pray that the finally take responsibility for their actions not empty promises get serious help plus desire to stop drinking
    please get in divorce recovery at church & see Christian counselor……God is always there for us if we reach out in prayer …God bless u yours ..Ill be praying for u:)

  • Ross

    Carolyn , I’m sorry for your pain. I’ve known it too well. Many here do.
    I was married for 25 yrs now and getting a divorce after 3 yrs separation. Please go to Al-Anon and over time you will be equipped to handle all that you have been through…I found it in 2011.After my husband left after relapsing.I wish I’d understood how important Al-Anon was and found it long ago. It would have saved me alot of hell.
    Blessings to you , be strong and press forward…

  • carollyn

    Thankyou so much.Ross so u thnk it would help me even now after a year has went by? I am having trouble dating…..wish u also strength & being able to move forward Ive been doing a lot better esp. snce I realized that he abandoned me ….even though I filed…& ..that realizaton got rid of my guilt…..sometimes its hard to see past the pain…..God bless u!

  • Ross

    There are many things to be gained by going to Al-Anon.A book called Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie can also help you heal and identify some things that will help .As much as we try on our own , there is more out there that can help us . Sure I figured out a few things . But to have recovery for yourself , now that’s where you are opened up to a whole lot more help and healing and support from others who understand what you’ve been through . Too many benefits to list here in a short post . …..:)

  • carollyn

    thanks guess since he’s no longer in my ife I wanted to put it behind me but …. Im having trouble datng….. do u think that may help me? Maybe someone else in the a-anon may be having simiar trouble dating i have ptsd symptoms is this common?

  • Ross

    There are much to be gained in recovery for yourself.Please consider going to some meetings and talking with others . It is recommended to go to at least 6 meetings before deciding it’s not for you. There are also CoDa groups out there that can be helpful. Here are some (of many) links that you might want to look at….

  • mrs Tiana

    My situation was hopeless me and my husband was on the verge of divorce. I was in a awful state and felt that I was not able to cope with life any longer. I found out about this Dr Lawrence and tried him. Well, he did return and now we are doing well again, more than ever before. Thank you so much drlawrencespelltemple@gmail. com Thanks and remain Bless

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