Annie's Mailbox: Father’s death changed husband’s behavior

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Dear Annie: “Austin” and I have been married for several years, and we have two beautiful children. He was an alcoholic when we met, but when he realized it was seriously affecting his health, he quit in a single day. Our marriage was wonderful.

Everything changed after Austin’s father died unexpectedly. He became a closet drinker, started gambling and distanced himself from the entire family. After a year, he pulled out of the skid, but things haven’t been the same. I know he still drinks and lies to me about it. He also self-medicates with other substances. This year has been especially tough. Austin lost his job and feels he is not pulling his weight around the house. He gets angry and then disappears for hours on end.

Annie, I know deep down the man I fell in love with is still there, but how do I bring him back? He refuses to see a counselor or a doctor about his depression and will not even discuss A.A. I probably make things worse, because when I suspect he’s been drinking, it leads to a fight.

I miss my husband. Austin reads your column, so please tell him I love him with all my heart and it hurts to see him missing out on his family. He was my white knight, and now I want to save him.

— Need Help

Dear Need Help: Austin sounds severely depressed and probably has been since Dad died. He also turns to addictive substances (alcohol, drugs, gambling) to dull the pain. Counseling would help him enormously, but you cannot force him to go. Please look into Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) at 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666). It’s for family and friends of alcoholics and will help you learn better ways of coping with Austin’s drinking. And, Austin, if you are reading this, you owe it to your family to try to get better. They love you and need you.

Dear Annie: I have a problem with jealousy and insecurity. My fiance has never done anything to make me feel this way, but the men who were in my life before cheated on me.

I know I need help, but we can’t afford counseling. It’s reached the point where we argue a lot because he now works with a woman I can’t help but think is better looking than I am, and he may cheat with her. My fears are tearing us apart.

My fiance keeps telling me to grow up. Please help.

— Stressed and Tired

Dear Stressed: Fear is irrational, but you must decide not to let yours become so debilitating that it destroys this relationship and all future ones. We strongly urge you to get counseling so you can defeat your jealousy demons. Look for low-cost help through local hospitals, university psychology departments and graduate school counseling departments, United Way and the YMCA.

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