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My Husband Comes Home Drunk

From Canada: My husband of 9 years has, in the last 3 months or so, increased his partying. On 7 different occasions he has gone out with single/divorced “friends” and come home stumbling at 4 am. I have respectfully asked him to stop as this is starting to bother me. The last time he went out, he didnt even tell me where he went and who with. I called him 10 times at 1:30 am and he sent me a text at 4:11 am saying he didnt see my calls. He then came home at 4:45 am, drunk.

I am so hurt and upset by his utter disrespect, we are fighting. I asked him to leave the house (in my anger I became nasty) and now he is hanging on to my words and he keeps saying:
“what is wrong if I hang out with my friends.”
“I cannot have time constrains when I go out”
“You were not like this when we got married”

To be honest I consider myself to be an independent person but now I am starting to doubt myself. Am I being paranoid or pocessive? Am I a wifezilla trying to be controlling? We have married friends but no one I know is behaving like this. I have asked him which one of our married friends is treating their spouse this way, and he keeps saying so what if he is goes out with his friends. Keeps repeating the same thing…
Am I wrong in demanding respect? That stumbling home at 4 am is disrespectful to me and that if the tables were turned and I did this, he wouldn’t tolerate it for a second???

I have never behaved like this, partying with “friends” at all hours while he waits for me at home!
I an so upset and hurt. I can only tell him how his behaviour makes me feel, I cannot change him. What do I do…?

I’m sure this is very, very painful. You are not being paranoid or dependent or possessive. It sounds to me like your husband is going through a classic “mid-life crisis”. This is not a mental health diagnosis. It is a popular term. When people reach their 40s they have to come to terms with the fact that youth is over and they are now solidly middle-aged and headed to old. They are no longer attractive young people with great potential. Their attractiveness is waning and the potential they thought they had has either been mostly reached or probably won’t be.

Some people can’t stand it. They go through a highly emotional identity crisis, often trying to recapture their youth by doing things (like partying too much, hanging out until the wee hours with friends, one night stands) that they either did or wished they did while in their 20s or what they imagine young people do now. They are trying to demonstrate to themselves and others that they “have what it takes” to attract sexual partners, to party, and be young.

It was once thought that this crisis of identity and self-confidence only happened to men. But as more women became more identified with their careers, it became a women’s issue as well.

You are right that you can’t change him. There is no point in fighting with your husband about his behavior. It is not rational so he won’t listen to reason. There is also no point in taking this personally. It really has nothing to do with you personally. It is a fight he is having within himself.

He might listen if you calmly and dispassionately inform him that he is behaving like someone in a mid-life crisis. But it is unlikely that he’ll accept the information until something happens that makes him come to his senses. Hopefully it won’t be a serious accident due to his drinking.

All you can do is distance yourself emotionally to protect your own feelings. Do make sure you protect your finances. People in this state sometimes impulsively buy things the family can’t afford.

Only you can decide how long you can put up with this. At some point, he may realize he is risking everything the two of you have between you. At some point, he may wake up to just how foolish and juvenile he is acting. If so, he is likely to be ashamed and depressed — and more open to seeing a counselor. You may be willing to give him another chance or you may be long gone by then.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

from Ask the Therapist

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