The Enabler


Am I doing the right thing? My husband is codependent and my step son is an alcoholic. My step son has been in my life since he was 10 yrs old...he is now 25.

He just recently received his third DUI and my husband continues to enable him over and over... I have tried to put down rules and boundaries down for years and they are consistently broken... I'm told by my husband..."Just lay off him".

My step son received his first DUI at 15, second at 19 and 3rd at 25. The first one was pretty much swept under the rug; the second was 4yr deferred adjudication, and the third is currently is being filed as a misdemeanor, because he made it through the deferred sentence phase. But he hasn't gone to court.

First DUI: Received at 15. Only had a drivers permit and was still allowed to drive by his father without a license. Some how managed to still get a DL at 16... (The Good Ol' Boy system).

He would got to the bars and get drunk and go bar hopping and forget where he left his car and the next night would get a car from used car lot and take it and to the same...

At one point he had 4 different cars out. So I went went to every bar in our small town with his Senior Picture and notified them that he wasn't old enough to drink and shouldn't be allowed to enter. I was laughed at! and It became a big joke. No one took me serious.

The Second DUI: He moves out of the house at 19 for about 9 months, can't manage his money, but his dad bailed him out every single time. By this time is when I started seeing the signs of true dependency on alcohol... the shakes. Just totally out of control.

He moves back home a year later, and has been back home since he was 20. He wets his bed, comes home so drunk he can hardly walk and he doesn't even remember the next day..

He had a great job, making 50K a yr with only a HS diploma. He had moved up the ranks in from fry cook to boss pit; with the same employer since he was 16, and when he turned 24... he was fired for not showing up.

His dad tells him that everyone will lay off if he just goes to college full time... He enrolls in the Spring of 2011 completes 18 hrs with a 2.25 (mostly on-line class) Tells his dad he needs a break for the summer... Spends the summer at the lake living in the camper drinking with friends.

Fall 2011 enrolls in another 18 hrs...and continues staying in the camper, but decides to move home when it gets cold... Tells us he is going to classes... but he only did his on-line class... makes a.05 for the fall semester. Basically flunks out of college.

The Third DUI: He starts working for his father selling cars and doing paperwork for $200 a week... but only shows up when he wants to.. DUI Eve of Christmas Eve. Blows a .24 goes to jail gets out the next day... and I want to lay down rules and boundaries.. I set some rules.. Girlfriend can't move in and must look for full-time employment, besides working 4 hrs a day for your dad.

Girlfriend continues staying and I tell my step son, that the over night stays need to be limited and that i did not approve of it and if they wanted to shack up they needed to do so under their own roof, that we all need to sit down and discuss as a family how many times a week and that notification must be provided prior to having over night guests. He tells his father that I said he had to move out...

My husband comes home mad and asks why I said his son had to move out.. I told him I didn't.. That we all need to discus as a family. My husband tells me he will be loyal to his son until the end.. I have never asked him not to be loyal I have asked that the enabling stop.

I never asked him to choose between us.. I never would. I get threatened with divorce and tells me I need to move out.. All I wanted is that we all sit down and discuss expectations of all parties living in the house.

I'm either looked at as not loving him or being demanding. There are so many stories about all the things he has done while on alcohol and my husbands enabling ways; it makes me so sad.. It's tearing my family apart. My husband is a great man and I know he loves his son.. but he can't seem to see through the fog of the problems alcoholism is causing us.

QUESTION: So do I leave the Enabler and Alcoholic or do I stay and continue to fight to save them both! This totally SUCKS! I hate that this is how my life has become 10 yrs of nothing but one big cluster of dysfunction.

Comments for The Enabler

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How sad!
by: Anonymous

Only you know how much of this you can take. But it seems that you love your husband. Question- was the ex wife an alcoholic. You don't mention her at all?

Best thing I think would be to give your husband as much information about alcoholism first !! Tell him and print out information about the effects - long term and short term- and that he is basically going to watch his son die in front of him.

I think you have to get his attention regarding the disease first before you approach the co dependency. He is doing what he thinks is best for his son, and he is really trying, so don't attack his current efforts.

Although we know he is wrong-and its just enabling his son, approaching him with that right away I think, will just push him further. It forces him to defend his son and his actions.

Tell him that you love him and your step son- but if this continues, it is not going to have a happy ending for either of them if it continues. Overwhelming for you, I am sorry.

Remember- you only have to decide what you are going to do today. So one day at a time will lessen your burden.

The Low Rung
by: Ned Wicker

Your story is sadly all too common. As the second wife you do not have any status in your family, as your husband obviously does not care or have any idea how much he is contributing to the misery of your stepson by not having the wisdom to listen to you and be in partnership with you to help. From what you have written, I’d say your husband is a fool.

The three DUI arrests, the losing a 50k job, the flunking out of college do not get your stepson’s attention and it’s obvious your husband is clueless. You do have a decision to make.

Marriages are partnerships where one party teams with the other to make a home. If you have no stature, if you are not respected, if you don’t have a say in what happens under your own roof, then you have no life.

Before you take any rash action, try calling Al-anon and explain your situation to them. Believe me, they’ll understand because they’re been there.

Perhaps you can even try to calmly and rationally talk to your husband and explain to him that your stepson needs help and his enabling is only assisting your stepson in committing suicide by the installment plan, one drink at a time.

Don’t make threats or statements you can’t backup, or aren’t willing to live with once they are out there. But you must focus on communicating, clearly and concisely what your wants and needs are.

Since it appears that you have no position in the family, you may have to let both of them go. Bottom line--what do you want for yourself? If your husband loves you, and I certainly hope he does, he may have to make a choice between getting help for his son or having you as his wife.

He sounds like he’s in complete denial, so he needs help just like his son needs help. Al-anon is a good call to make, ideally your husband will join you at the meetings.

Leap of faith
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for my comments and advice... For years I have printed off information on alcoholism and its effects asked that we go to counseling as a couple on how to cope as a blended family.

I had to give out some tough love to my own son when he was 16 and it was the hardest thing i have ever had to do, but to this day my son will tell me " Thanks Mom, that was the best thing you could have ever done for me, and I love you!"

It was tough for years but he finally got it! and his drug abuse stopped but he had to hit the bottom. I was still there as his mother not as his friend or enabler.

My husband just keeps saying we can't help his son until his son is ready to admit that he has a problem. I beg to differ that! He doesn't have to stop loving his son, he just has to let him know that he will no longer support his behavior and lay some laws down...He is afraid his son will never speak to him again, that is where I think he is completely wrong.

I have called every family member, my step-son's mother, grand parents, and siblings all agree he has a problem but no one is willing to do anything until my husband is on board... I just don't see that happening because of his co-dependency.

It is just a sad situation and I feel like I'm failing if I leave but I just don't think I deal with it anymore...Can't help those that don't want your help. Maybe, me leaving will wake him up and save his life...and I just have to be out of the picture.

My step son has a problem with relationships.. he never calls his mother, his mother is a sweet woman and has tried to keep a relationship with her son, but its my step-son's choice not too, and I know she loves her son and her heart breaks every time she calls see him and he doesn't show up.

She has never given up on him but she too know as long as his father is enabling there isn't much that we can do... My husband is a very strong headed man and his attitude at times is it's my way or the highway so I'm hitting the highway...

Not sure where I'm going but it's not where i have been. I have all the right intentions but I feel like I'm beating my head against the wall. My husband said to me the other day, "We will be fighting this same fight 10 years from now".... That pretty much told me what his intentions were...I know God has put me on this path for a reason. We don't always see the reasons immediately but hopefully it was for this one giant leap of faith that my husband will one day save my step son's life.

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