Monday, October 11, 2010

Angie’s Marriage Column ~ September 22, 2010: What can a wife do when her alcoholic husband stays out drinking all weekend?

Ask Angie: Dear Angie. What do I do when my husband sleeps out drinking every weekend this has been going on for 17 years and I am tired of this. He gives no explanations.

Ask Angie: I am in stressed. My husband sleeps out every weekend for the past 6 months. I know about submission, which I still, do all the duties a wife should do. I keep still waiting patiently for God to do the work in my husband. I pray thanking God for my storm, which brought me closer to Him, and I know the storm must stop but hey it’s getting to me. Please help. Do I confront my husband about this? I am so scared an argument will erupt.

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Marriage Guidance: As anyone knows who has had to live with an alcoholic, addiction hurts. Unfortunately, no matter what you say, or how much you try to get your alcoholic husband to stay home on the weekends, he is most-likely going to go out anyway. They say alcoholism is the insidious disease and this is part of that insidiousness.

This surely does not mean that you cannot ask your husband to please stay home. But don’t get your hopes up thinking that he is going to listen. He may listen to you while sober and say he won’t go out again, but once they start drinking you never know what he might do. You are powerless over what the alcoholic says or does.

But you can determine personal boundaries for yourself that let the alcoholic know what they may or may not do while drinking in the home. Setting boundaries for you is not a way to threaten or control the alcoholic. On the contrary, your boundaries have nothing to do with them, and everything to do with you!

Personal boundaries are put into place so you can live with the alcoholic without going crazy and becoming sick with them! Personal boundaries are physical, emotional, mental, sexual, spiritual, financial, etc. I talk about this and detaching in greater detail in our book The Alcoholism Trap.

I’m wondering, is he going out on the weekends so to stay away from you while he is drinking, or is he having an affair? Because our guidance for you will be two different things depending on what is going on here. So below is our biblical guidance for each situation.

If The Alcoholic Does Not Want to Drink Around Spouse
Do not threaten the alcoholic. And never talk to the alcoholic when they are drinking. But you can speak up for yourself in a nicely assertive way and let him know that you do not want him to stay out all weekend long, and to please stay home. If he is drinking and driving, endangering himself and others, it would be ridiculous to sit and do nothing, even though, he may become violently abusive if you try and take the car keys. This is why you need to talk to your husband when he is sober.

If he is not driving, I’m not sure why you would want him home causing alcoholic ado and uproar in the home. You see, I speak from alcoholic experience. If the alcoholic stays home and drinks, anyone who is in the home will be affected by “what the alcoholic does” while drinking, whatever that might be. Most alcoholics become verbally abusive, while a few become violent, some become stupid and happy, while some just keep to themselves until they pass out.

Where is your husband going? What is he doing all weekend long? Is he at a friend’s house? Is it at the bars? Is he drinking a driving? Since you really did not give me very much information to go on, there are a lot of “what ifs” and “variables” that you need to think about before you do anything. You say that he gives no explanation—so I guess you don’t even know what your husband is doing while gone all weekend long.

I understand that you want your husband home, but once you find out what it is like to be around a drinking alcoholic you may change your mind. This is why you should understand about detachment from the drinking alcoholic.

We have written a series of alcoholism ebooks that help spouses of alcoholics deal with living with someone who has an addiction. The ebooks explain in detail when to do detach, how to do detach and when not to detach from the alcoholic. Many times wives are the enablers of the alcoholic and don’t know it and they can actually hold back the alcoholic from getting sober. We also have written an ebook for spouses that show them How to Help Their Spouse Get Sober.

Bottom line here is if you are going to ask your husband to stay home on the weekends be prepared for it! Read our conquer addiction blog written for alcoholics and those who love an alcoholic—there are some excellent articles on there. Then read How to Detach From an Alcoholic Spouse to help you be prepared for dealing with the insidiousness of the drinking alcoholic.

Check out some of our videos on alcoholism as well. Here’s one on how to help the alcoholic to sobriety. And here is one on detaching from the alcoholic. Next week we are going to talk about when the alcoholic husband lost his job and wife is supporting him and if that is enabling or not. Subscribe to our videos so you will receive notice of new videos when we upload them.

If Your Alcoholic Spouse is Having an Affair?
First thing, if your alcoholic spouse is having an affair, it would be silly to endanger yourself with a venereal disease, so I would stop having sex. This is not a threat for the alcoholic to stop having the affair, but a personal boundary that you NEED to do to protect your physical health!

There is no other time except when a woman is sick or on her monthly that she should not have sex with her husband. Scripture is VERY clear on this. The wife’s body belongs to her husband and the husband’s body belongs to his wife. But when either one is abusing their body outside of the marriage, then we certainly do not have to endanger our health as well. (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)

If the alcoholic does not want to be accountable for their actions that’s their problem, which there will be consequences at some point. But you still need to protect yourself. This biblical guidance is for all spouses who are having an affair, whether or not they are alcoholic or not, and who will not stop living in this sin. Our biblical advice is given below this next question that was sent into the ministry.

Ask Angie: Below is a quote from one of your articles:

“The spouse of an adulterer is obligated to stay married to an adulterer. But if the unbeliever continues in their sinful ways, what can you do but let them go. The only alternative would be for the believer to deny their own faith to preserve the marriage, which in many instances would be worse than letting the unbeliever go.”

But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15)

“The above verse is not a loophole for divorce. In fact, it says nothing about divorce. It states, “If the unbeliever leaves, let him do so.” It does not say, “If the unbeliever wants a divorce, give it to him.” No, it does not say that. Divorce may be legal with the state, but in God’s eyes, even if you divorce, you are still married, unless husband or wife dies. Period! ”

My question is…what if the adulterous spouse keeps committing adultery and refuses to leave. Should I insist that he leave?

Marriage Guidance: Please send this to the adulterer who will not stop being unfaithful. This is an unusual situation. Usually when a spouse is so hardhearted and will not stop in the adultery, they leave the marriage. So I’m wondering what the motive is for the adulterer in staying and putting their spouse through such a degrading and emotionally harmful behavior such as adultery. It is VERY selfish.

“And a woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.” (1 Corinthians 1:7) I’m truly not sure that a continual cheater is pleased to stay in the home. Someone who is having a relationship with someone other than who they married, and they are not repentant, would NOT be pleased to dwell with their spouse—it seems like an oxymoron to me.

There is an underlying reason here “why” he does not want to leave the marriage. Perhaps he knows that it is just a fling and that he will want to stay with his wife. Perhaps he wants to just have a mistress as a side dish. Maybe his wife is financially supporting him? Or maybe, he truly loves his wife and does not want to leave the marriage. Could it be that he knows that there is no such thing as divorce according to God? If he believes that then where is the faith to seek Christ for his inner emotional and spiritual healing?

Our suggestion to you is respectfully but assertively communicate yourself with your husband and find out why he is staying in the marriage while having sex with another woman. Then you can pray about it, ask God for the guidance you need and proceed accordingly. I don’t want to suggest anything drastic if your husband feels he wants to work on the marriage at some point. Sometimes the believing spouse needs to detach from the cheating spouse and continue praying for them, hoping they will find their way to Christ.

In any case, it is terribly wrong when a spouse won’t stop cheating—they need healing that only God can truly help them with. To be living in the home while you are having sex with someone else other than your spouse is VERY disrespectful and rude to flaunt your sin in your spouses face. And I believe it is not what God wants for the believing spouse.

God wants the believing spouse to try and spiritually influence the unbeliever to seek Christ for their life but if they are too emotionally disgusted and distraught to help the adulterer than it is best they separate, at least until the sinning spouse stops in the adultery. If they never do stop or if they continue to have affair after affair, then you are NOT in bondage to them and you may remain separated. Here is what scripture says.

“And to the married, I command, yet not I, but the Lord, ‘Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:11) It is not a sin to leave your unbelieving spouse but it is a sin to remarry. God knows that it is difficult to not have your spouse with you and that you may get lonely, this is precisely why he prefers that if the spouse is pleased to dwell, do not leave or have them leave.

“God hath called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15) For how will you know if you can really save your husband? If you have tried every available avenue to help your spouse receive Christ and they still are hardhearted what can you do? God wants us to live together in peace and harmony, but sometimes on rare occasions such as this, it is not likely. This is why God wants us to marry in the Lord and not be unequally yoked with unbelievers!

If a spouse is unwilling to be accountable to their spouse and they persist in the adultery, and if it is discouraging you from seeking God and staying faithful, then you as a believer, can ask them to leave, until they are ready to take responsibility for their actions and be the man or woman of God that God intends them to be. But of course, you can’t make them leave. First, before asking them to leave, find out why they want to stay in the marriage. Email us again if you need to.

Even though Christ Ones have the love of the Father to help them and shield them from problems within their lives, we are not made of steel. I only have to put myself in your shoes and to think about what it would be like to be in your situation to know what you are going through.

It is not only disrespectful towards the believing spouse, but it is degrading, emotionally hurtful and physically unhealthy to live with someone who is living in this way. This is why God does provide a way out in these rare occasions and under these circumstances by letting us know we are not in bondage to the unbelieving spouse, meaning we do not have to serve unbelief. “A brother or sister is not in bondage in such cases.” (1 Corinthians 7:15) This does not mean, however, that we are free to remarry.

Although we advocate that spouses stay together and try and work on the marriage there are rare instances such as this when the unbelieving spouse is not taking up the responsibilities of being a husband, not trying to be a husband, and deliberately sinning in their spouses face, so the wife should not have to live with such a person—it’s enabling him to continue in his lustful behavior. We are sorry for all people who have to suffer under such circumstances as adultery, especially those who are not repentant and continue to be controlled by worldly passions and lusts. (Titus 2:11-12)

Remember what God says if you separate from your husband… let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.

Take care and God Bless!
In Christ,
Angie and Frank
Heaven Ministries ~ Marriage Ministry