Dear Abby: Husband’s drinking and driving endangers our kids, marriage

Spouse considers leaving man who goes out boozing every week and then drives home.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband of 20 years has had DUIs in the past. He has always been a binge drinker when socializing. He has been going out once a week after work for three hours, during which he drinks and then drives home. He tells me he has a couple beers, but his tab and his face tell a different story.

We have three teenagers who see his behavior, and it sets a bad example. My other worry is that he may take the kids somewhere after he gets home from his weekly outing. I have instructed them not to let Dad take them anywhere on Wednesdays (his regular bar day). I have also asked him not to drive them anywhere on Wednesdays. I make sure I work from home on that day, but all of this doesn’t seem like enough, and I want him to stop.

I have thought about divorce for this and other reasons, but I worry his drinking would get worse. I’ve also considered doing an intervention with family. I’m at the end of my rope and ready to do something, but what is the next step? — REACHED MY LIMIT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR REACHED: Step one should be to attend some Al-Anon meetings. This is an organization founded to help the friends and families of someone with an alcohol problem, which it appears your husband has. Those meetings will give you perspective. Your next step will be to figure out what divorce may mean for you and your children financially. Once you have that information, tell your husband — while he is sober and you are calm — that you have reached your limit and, unless he is willing to quit drinking, you are going to leave him. See how he reacts and, if nothing changes, follow through.

DEAR ABBY: Seven years ago, my husband and I were going through a rough patch. Unfortunately, he shared all the details with his parents. We are still together going on 24 years. I was so upset when I found out he had told them our business because I loved them and knew it wouldn’t be the same.

My father-in-law acts like he loves me, but my mother-in-law doesn’t talk to me, and I haven’t received a birthday card since. On Christmas we receive a check with only my husband’s name on it. Only my daughter and my husband are acknowledged on their birthdays. I love my in-laws, and with my own parents gone, I miss just being loved. My husband thinks it’s no big deal that they ignore my birthday. Is it really no big deal? — DREADING MY BIRTHDAY NOW

DEAR DREADING: I disagree with your husband. That his parents continue to punish you because he tattled about your marital problems IS a big deal. And now the tattler should tell his folks it’s time to bury the hatchet and welcome you back into the fold. If he’s not man enough to do that, then some sessions for YOU with a licensed marriage counselor might help you to accept the status quo. You said you want to be loved, and by that I assume you mean unconditionally. In the case of your in-laws, that may not be possible, and you may need to learn to accept it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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