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My fiance manages the life of his alcoholic father


sunshine2885

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I'm at the end of my rope and really need opinions and/or suggestions from others.

 

My fiance (let's call him Guy) has a father who is almost 70 and is a broke and depressed alcoholic. Guy's mother asked his father to move-out when he was about 8 years-old, but she continued to keep the door open to having relationships with his children.

 

A few results of Guy's father's drinking include (among other things):

The man hasn't held a job in years and did not plan for retirement.

He has lost friends, family and any support system (except for the mother of his children and the children).

Without money, he refuses to spend money on therapy. For the medications that he's on, he takes half of the recommended dosage to save money.

His children bought him a dog for company even though the man cannot take care of himself.

He has early on-set Alzheimer's, has had multiple strokes (but refuses to use a cane), and has depression.

He is emotionally unstable and will scream profanities at doctors if they said that he needs to have a procedure done (because he doesn't want to spend the money).

 

Once at Christmas, Guy's father publicly shamed me in front of the family. Neither one said anything to reprimand him or explain that what he said was inappropriate and mean.

 

The only thing Guy's father happily spends money on is boxed wine.

 

Ever since I met him, Guy has been concerned that his father would commit suicide and that he would receive the phone call. Guy has told me stories of his childhood that include his father sitting at the dining room table in the dark, drinking. Guy would come home and be terrified, not knowing what to expect when he got home.

 

Guy's sister has 2 children now and lives in a different country so she can't really help. Guy's mother delegates most of the responsibility back to Guy since she doesn't want to deal with much of it either. When his mother travels to see his father, she asks that Guy and his sister help pay for her travel expenses. At this point, Guy manages everything from his father's MD appointments, nail trims for the dog, and soon, moving his father to cheaper housing. Guy says that he needs to be there for the move, but he has moved his father multiple times now and the costs to do so have added up. I am insisting this time that movers are hired. Guy says that he needs to be there and that I cannot tell him what he can and cannot do.

 

I don't think it's fair that Guy's father can act any way he pleases without any consequences. Everyone tip-toes around him, not mentioning his alcohol problem, not mentioning that he cannot act out when he feels stressed. He cannot just assume that he can abuse his family and that they will keep managing his life. He cannot assume that his children and estranged wife will find him different, cheaper housing and move him, or pay for his flight so that he can be present for the holidays.

 

I want to marry Guy. But I can't seem to get him to understand that I have a problem with him managing his father's life, creating a co-dependent relationship, and enabling his issues with alcohol. Guy's mother is retired and I think that she needs to take on more responsibility. Guy works a full-time job and we're planning a wedding. But we've been wasting so much time fighting about his father that it's getting ridiculous. All I want is to be sure that boundaries are set and upheld before we're married.

 

Please offer any advice. I try to explain my position to Guy but he seems to think that I'm cold-hearted. He doesn't seem to realize that this situation is horribly unfair to him, and me, and our relationship, and that boundaries need to be set before we can move forward.

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Guy is doing the right thing. Who is supposed to care for his father?

His mother divorced the man decades ago.

His sister lives in another country with 2 small children.

 

Trying to come between guy and his family is a no win situation for you. He is right in the sense that you cannot tell him what to do. If the situation is untenable for you...one option is to remove yourself from it. I don't see guy turning his back on his family.

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Guy needs to go to al-anon. All he's doing is helping his father kill himself and he's ruining his relationship in the process. Seriously - get this guy to al-anon because this is only going to get worse. What your man is doing is well intentioned I'm sure, but it's ignorant - he doesn't know the proper way to support an addicted family member.

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Your partner comes with baggage in the form of a self-destructive father who sounds like he's had a hopeless life. It's really sad actually. He is old now and needs the support. I wouldn't leave a parent of mine either. They are vulnerable in old age.

 

It's not up to you to decide what's best for your fiances family. Yes you're well-intentioned and yes there has to be a better way of managing the situation but at two same time it's his family, not yours. If your bf and his sister choose to help their parents financially then that's their business. And why should the mum be responsible? She left him years ago.

 

I think you need to weigh up whether you can really handle the situation as it is. If not then I'd suggest you consider whether this relationship is good for you long term. Good luck!

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That's tough as it seems like Guy is really the only candidate to take care of his father. And he is in need of care, alcoholism aside.. at the very least for his old age. At the same time, he should be able to respect you & the relationship by making compromises. And especially standing up to his father when he "publicly shames" you. That is unacceptable.

 

It's possible that their relationship is a co-dependent one. I don't know enough about it, but I do know that there is a co-dependents anonymous group that functions similar to AA. Might want to seek that out.

 

Edit : Like pleasehelp said.. AlAnon is another group to help in your situation.

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Has your fiancé started supporting him financially yet? Addicts are like black holes and will suck everything of value and destroy anyone who gets too close. If you get married, are you prepared to start going without so you can spend you paycheck bailing this guy out of his constant drama? He'll bleed you guys dry.

 

Are you ready to let this guy move in with you? That's on the horizon if he doesn't stop drinking. So he can shame you in your own home whenever he likes? And then steal from you, pass out and puke wherever he is, creep out all your friends and neighbors, etc?

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IDK, to me it sounds like Guy is an enabler. I agree he needs to education himself about the nature of addiction and al-anon would be a good place to start.

 

He needs to set up healthy boundaries. Its hard now because his father is so old, if he had hit rock bottom years age he may have gotten help then. Now, we have an elderly man developing a lot of other issues.

 

I suggest you also educate yourself about addiction and how to deal with addicts.

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I can understand Guy wanting to help his Dad, and that he has been left in the terrible position of being the only one to care for him, but he is also enabling him.

As pl3asehelp has said, he will be a financial drain til he passes away, and this will become your burden too.

I wouldn't want to be saddled with this. You need to decide if you are willing to help him support his Dad or walk away. Guy isn't going to listen to you & abandon his Dad, so you will have to make this decision.

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pl3asehelp has it right.

 

If Guy went to Al Anon, he could talk to people like me. People who know exactly how that feels like.

 

It isn't a matter of having to choose between oneself and "saving" an alcoholic parent. There is always one child who ends up in that role, it seems, the role of "the one who takes on everyone's responsibilities". I was it. Guy is it.

 

There is a lot of shame, guilt, and sense of 'duty' bound up in it. But what it boils down to? Guy thinking that if he does everything just a little bit better, he can get his dads love. A kids yearning.

 

So it's really dysfunctional. But at its core it's pretty simple; for Guy. HE just needs the help to see it for what it is.

 

By the way, blood doesn't make family. Being there does. Blood doesn't obligate you to life and limb. At the expense of your own self.

 

I wouldn't marry Guy til you figure this all out. As far as practical solutions go; his blood father sounds to be at a highly degenerative stage of his illness. Has there been any talk of a real care home?

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I can understand Guy wanting to help his Dad, and that he has been left in the terrible position of being the only one to care for him, but he is also enabling him.

As pl3asehelp has said, he will be a financial drain til he passes away, and this will become your burden too.

I wouldn't want to be saddled with this. You need to decide if you are willing to help him support his Dad or walk away. Guy isn't going to listen to you & abandon his Dad, so you will have to make this decision.

 

Guy isn't supporting his dad though, he's doing the opposite because he isn't experienced enough to know what healthy support looks like in this scenario. Guy needs to understand this so he can make changes to truly support his dad and let go of the unwarranted guilt he feels. Everyone will be better off. Guy needs rehab just as much as his dad does.

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Guy needs to go to al-anon. All he's doing is helping his father kill himself and he's ruining his relationship in the process. Seriously - get this guy to al-anon because this is only going to get worse. What your man is doing is well intentioned I'm sure, but it's ignorant - he doesn't know the proper way to support an addicted family member.

If Guy will go to Alanon, that would be ideal. However, it's no easier to get someone whose life is suffering through someone else's alcoholism to attend Alanon than it is to get an alcoholic to attend AA, because of the huge amounts of denial involved. Both will only seek help when they've reached rock bottom.

 

To the OP: you qualify for Alanon, too, because of Guy's father. Guy is enabling his father, but by staying with him under the circumstances you are, you're enabling Guy, albeit unwittingly. You are trying to control something that you just cannot - other people and their actions. When you say cannot just assume that he can abuse his family and that they will keep managing his life. He cannot assume that his children and estranged wife will find him different, cheaper housing and move him, or pay for his flight so that he can be present for the holidays.

in one sense he can assume all those things - because that's what's always happened.

 

You need to ask yourself if you'd be able to tolerate the situation AS IT IS if you get married; until Guy's father passes away, this is the way it's going to be. No amount of arguing, pleading, cajoling is going to change Guy's attitude until he decides for himself that enough is enough; ironically, the more you protest, the more Guy's sense of obligation will lead him into an entrenched position.

 

None of this is fair. None of this is fair on you, either. But trying to fight it won't make it go away. My advice to you is to attend Alanon meetings - whatever problems you're having, someone else there will have had comparable ones, and you need to learn to detach with love and then re-evaluate the situation and ask yourself honestly if you can really cope with all this. It is already taking a serious toll on your emotional health - that's what dealing, even indirectly, with alcoholism does to people - and you need to get support. It's just that you're unlikely to get it from your fiancé right now.

 

Good luck with all this - it sounds an absolute nightmare and I hope you manage to find a way to cope with it.

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>> Guy says that he needs to be there and that I cannot tell him what he can and cannot do.

 

My gut feeling is that once you marry and buy a house together, Guy will move his father in and tell you too bad, you can't tell him what to do. And you'll have this alcoholic train wreck living with you until he dies, and you will be spending your family money on him too.

 

So I think you have to accept that that is the likely outcome if you continue this relationship. The old man may die tomorrow, but he could live another 15 years as well. If you absolutely can't stand the idea of living with him, them don't marry Guy, or at least not until after his father dies or you will be living with him.

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Guy's mother is retired and I think that she needs to take on more responsibility.

 

Guys mother thew the man out because she saw the writing on the wall and was taking steps to protect herself. She shouldn't be putting the responsibility on Guy, but it's definitely not her repsonsibility.

 

Guy needs to learn about addiction and loving an addict. He also needs to learn about supporting someone with Alzheimers (not a nice disease).

 

Honestly, I wouldn't marry him or move in with him. Not until his father dies.

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Has he looked into any healthcare options the state might provide to get him proper care, and seen about getting a medical power of attorney?

 

If he's spending money on wine and reducing his meds in contrast to doctor's orders, then neither Guy or his family are taking care of the aging parent - they ARE enabling. Someone needs to step up and lay down some firm boundaries, and investigate options for support and care, or this will just continue to spiral downhill until he requires home care round the clock. He needs to get in a program to provide medical and psych help and support yesterday.

 

Check SSI, check your state, check any other outlets you can find, but there is bound to be some programs out there that can offer some assistance. You might start with your local AARP or other elderly care and support network.

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At this point, I think the best thing you can do is try to understand and learn about the dynamic between alcoholics and their adult children. The more you understand, the more you understand his reasoning. Hopefully with support (e.g. al-anon) he can realize some of his own patterns and move towards looking at healthier options for his father (e.g. a home).

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Ok, if he is 70 he is old enough to qualify for SSI. The amount of the payment depends upon many factors and varies from state to state. You need to contact your local Social Security office regarding the specifics. He is over 65, so that means he is getting Medicare. He is able to enter a convalecent home which will be paid for by the state as part of his SSI approval. Also, his medication will be paid for. SSI is based upon age, which he meets, and need, which is based on HIS income. It sounds like the family is not aware of the resources that are available. I worked for the Social Security Administration for years, so I know what I am talking about. ...chi

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^^

Keep in mind though that the father will work against that option of taking SSI and being in a convalescent home because he will be forced to give up drinking in the home. so he will apply pressure to your BF to either take him into his own home (and let him continue to drink), or else support him while he lives somewhere else where he can continue to drink. I think unless the father is proved incompetent, they can't force him into a home, and your BF sounds like he is easily persuaded/guilted into continuing to HELP his father drink by providing the support to do so.

 

So your task becomes convincing your BF that he needs to ensure his father gets SSI and gets moved somewhere he is properly cared for, but living with you and spending your joint resources financing the father's drinking is not acceptable. If your BF refuses to see that or agree to that, then basically you'll have to accept your BF's enabling or leave him.

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