I am a mother of two boys. When I had the first-born, I was living with their father but he was an alcoholic, and despite all the support I gave him, we kept going through the alcoholism cycle. It was so emotionally stressing that I eventually moved out. But despite his drinking, he never hit or verbally insulted me, for which I am grateful.
He is basically a good person, which is what kept our relationship going, leading to the conception of our second child. He sought help by going into rehab but since we do not live together, I cannot vouch for his staying sober.
He comes to visit the children regularly and we spend time together. However, he has not been able to get a job since losing his last one. I am fine with our current co-parenting arrangements.
Since I left him, his parents have become cold towards us and never bother to check on us, which is straining my relationship with my sons’ father. I don’t understand what their problem is because I did nothing wrong by moving out for the sake of my sanity. They have never reached out to me to know why I left — almost three years ago — and when I tried to reach out to them, they gave me the cold shoulder, so I decided to keep off. However, they have talked ill of me, making me very bitter about having been part of their lives. Yet I know my sons will always carry their blood.
I love the father of my children but I do not wish to be part of a family that has disowned me and my sons. I want to move on but I have no complaint against my sons’ father, apart from his drinking, and I am not sure that he is on his way to being sober. The most painful thing is the way his parents have treated us.
I have written a lot about addictive behaviour in this column. I will draw from what we have said in the past to discuss your issue. First, people have been caught in the web of alcohol, substance and drug abuse without adequate support around them to help them break the habit. The main issue you have raised here is that your partner’s alcoholism is affecting his responsibilities at home, causing you emotional turmoil.
What I am not sure about is how his journey to alcoholism started. Knowing this will give you some understanding of the struggle he is facing as he seeks to become sober. Alcoholism occurs mainly when one drinks so much that their body becomes totally dependent on it. That is when one is referred to as alcohol addict. From your description, this seems to be where your man was before you left. When one gets to this stage, alcohol becomes the most important thing in their life.
The fact that he comes back to see you and is not violent towards you or the children is an indication of the place home has in his life. You were one of the key people in his life, which perhaps explains his parents’ attitude towards you. It seems they might be feeling that you abandoned their child. Whether this is true or not is not up to you to explain to them. Their feeling is related to the support their son started missing when you walked out, so don’t judge them too harshly. After all, the relationship was between the two of you – in good times as well as in bad ones.
It is important to know that a lot of our behaviour originates from our thoughts and beliefs. It is common to see people sink into depression for a variety of reasons. The feeling of loss due to the loss of, or lack of, a job, or going through some traumatic event has made some people slide into depression, which soon leads them to alcohol or drugs.
Whatever the case, your husband got caught in a behaviour that has become hard to break. Learning to communicate with each other respectfully will hasten his recovery by restoring his dignity.
You can only win his parents-back by being gracious to them as well as their son. He will recover only when you join him on that journey. However, emotionally, you must be willing to see what your man could become, not just what he is.
So avoid comparisons and blame if the support you are going to give him is to be meaningful. Regardless of the negative effects, I must commend you for your patience and open-door friendship with him. Look at him as a friend who needs help. It is by standing by him and encouragating him that you can help him continue seeking psychological help.
Blame, intimidation or allowing yourself to be influenced by what your his parents said about you will only create a distance between the two of you. This is a journey during which your sons’ father needs to feel needed by both you and the children. Everyone has faults, but with God’s help, professional support, walking with each other, a lot could change.