Hello! Please remember that my responses are informational only, we are not establishing a therapeutic relationship.
It sounds like you are in a difficult spot and that your husband is not hearing/seeing the seriousness of it. I will give you some tips for communication, however, these will be difficult with an alcoholic. I'll address that part after discussing the communication.
1. Use a lot of Empathy and Validation:
Empathy is where name the feelings you see that her feeling, validation is where yougive support to him for those feelings: "I know you are working very long hours and it's exhausting," or "It was frustrating for you when youhad that conflict with your boss," or "It sounds like when you come home you need some time to unwind" Validation:"I can understand how your job is stressful." or "I can seewhy you might want/need to wind down each day."
Empathy builds connection and trust --the greater your trust, the more likely he is tobe honest with you--except that this is more difficult with an alcoholic Empathy and validation do NOT mean that you support a particularly behavior, nor does it mean you would feel the same way or engage in the same behavior. It simply means that you can look beyond your own feelings and understand what is behind his feelings.
2.Use "I feel __________, when you _________"statements. Some examples:
"I feel abandoned and lonely after while when you are outside smoking/drinking. I'd like to talk to you at some point after you get home." Or another variation, "I worry that you are notinterested in trying to work out our relationship when you _____(insertbehavior)." OR "I feel neglected because we have not gone out together in 6 months."
The "I" part of the statement puts the responsibility on you (and henceis less likely to make him feel defensive), but the "when you" partidentifies the behavior that is confusing, hurting you, concerning you, etc. Again, though, if he's an alcoholic, he might be more defensive to start out with --making this more challenging.
It's much more likely to get an honest answer than a "why" question (Whydo you drink so much?) which makes people naturally defensive.
3. Use Open Ended Questions: They tend to start withWhat, When, How, and Tell me: "What is going through your mind rightnow?" or "Please tell me what your current thoughts are about ourrelationship." Or "How can I be supportive of you given how much stress you are under?"
Avoid closed ended questions: "Don't you think you ought to do the dishes?" "Don't you think you drink too much?" "Shouldn't we be going out more often?"Open ended questions invite conversation, closed ended ones tend to shut itdown.
So here's some Don'ts for you constructive arguments:
1. Don't engage in name calling (even if he does)
2. Don't ask closed questions (such as "Why" "Do you" or "Don't you"
3. Focus on the current situation ONLY do not bring up ANYTHING about the past, even if it seems pertinent
4. Stay calm --if emotions get too high say, "I need to calm down. Let me walk away and we can continue this in a few minutes." Or if he gets too emotional,"Let's take a time out. We can continue when we're both more calm."
Drinking ---You could try addressing it at some point when you are not fighting, using the methods I've discussed above. "I am concerned about how much you are drinking. You seem so stressed and are using drinking to cope." However, it might be best if you enter couples' counseling. All of these skills take some practice and it's so much better to have some help than to try to do it all on your own.
If you think that he needs to go into rehab, we could talk about how to stage an "Intervention," which is a technique designed to convince people to go to rehab.
Please follow up as needed.----
brilliant, just the kind of guidance I needed to help the situation. I also think that we may need counselling but it may take a lot of convincing. do you have any pointers on how we could address damage done with the kids - with the fighting and name calling? Thank you.
You are welcome. As far as the kids go, the best thing you can do is to stop it ---the fighting and the name calling. If you stop now, and pursue the healthier ways of relating, then I think the damage is minimal. They are so young that you have years left to model something better.
But --I'd do it now --even if you have start with just you refusing to fight in front of them. "I'll fight with you about this later --outside, when they are asleep," or something like that.
Ok will try to keep arguments to a miminum when the kids are around. I understand that an intervention could be staged to convince my husband to go for rehab. How would I go about accomplishing this? Many thanks.