My husband loves to go out on the weekend and get wasted with his friends. A few times, he actually peed in the bed because he was beyond wasted. My dad was an alcoholic and it bothers me whenever this happens. He only drinks on the weekend, but I don't like how sloppy he can get when he drinks. Help! —Anonymous
Of course you don’t like it, and of course it “bothers” you—doubly so because you grew up with a father who was an alcoholic. Your husband’s weekend behavior is probably a trigger for you that brings up whatever difficult incidents you faced seeing your father behave this way when you were a child. I’m going to guess that the reason you’ve gone without speaking up long enough for him to soil the bed “a few times” is either that you’re trying to avoid going through the same cycle with your husband that you went through with your father, or that your father’s behavior during or after drinking was worse than your husband’s and maybe you think your husband’s behavior isn’t so bad, when, really, it is.
Your husband’s behavior—both the excessive drinking and the bed soiling—is unacceptable. Your background with alcoholism, and being so close to the situation in your home, may give you a different impression. But you’re not overreacting with concern here, and it’s time to speak up. Your husband has a serious problem.
Perhaps because he drinks only on weekends and it’s not affecting his job or finances (yet), it may seem that he’s not so bad off. But a grown man is soiling himself, and not just in his own bed but in his marital bed. Most people would have been very embarrassed and remorseful the first time they wet the bed. Most people would have said, “Hey, I really need to slow down or stop.” Unless your husband has no basic shame—and I imagine he does and is a halfway decent guy if you married him—he thought this. That he has continued drinking to excess to the point where this has happened “a few times” means that his drinking is out of control.
It’s time to have a serious heart-to-heart with your husband before this situation escalates further—and it will if he doesn’t slow down or stop drinking altogether. Catch him during the week when he’s sober and not having a hangover—because trying to have a serious conversation in either state is pointless—and tell him that you are deeply concerned about his behavior and you want him to get help to control his drinking.
Also relay to him how it makes you feel to see him out of control because of his drinking, and tell him about your experiences with your father and his drinking, and how his own drinking is bringing those negative memories and feelings back up for you. Share with your husband honestly about how his drinking is affecting your relationship, as well as your perception of him as a man. Let’s keep it real: It’s hard to maintain respect for someone when you see that person so out of control because of liquor that he soils himself. His drinking is making you question your marriage.
Finally, tell your husband that, to start, you want him to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Despite the name, it’s not just for alcoholics but for anyone who is having problems with alcohol. An adult who soils his bed because of excessive drinking qualifies. (And no, he doesn’t have to disclose that at the meeting.) The AA website lists its meeting centers across the United States as well as online meetings.
As for you, Al-Anon is an organization that specifically works to help the families of individuals who drink in excess. It has a questionnaire to help you gauge whether Al-Anon services are right for you. One of the questions is, “Have you been hurt or embarrassed by a drinker’s behavior?” Another is, “Do you worry about how much someone drinks?” I imagine that both of your answers are “yes.”
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “He Wants to Marry Me, but He Doesn’t Want to Buy an Engagement Ring”