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How to help him find a purpose in life

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Hi everyone, I am new on here. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am looking for advice to help my husband. I will try to make it as short as possible. My husband and I have been together for 7 years and are very happy together. The thing is he has a lot of childhood trauma. It is one of those situations where his brother was the golden boy and anything my husband ever did was wrong. His parents never believed in him and anything he ever wanted to do; it was a dumb idea. My husband developed a stutter as a child because of this. His father forced him to study accounting in college because it was “the only profession to make money and be successful”. He was given an ultimatum of studying accounting or being disowned. He dropped out of college after 2 years because he hated it so much. Since he wasn’t going to college his father told him to help with the family restaurant. He did that for 5 years and every day he would come home looking defeated and miserable. This is where he started drinking alcohol regularly. His father made life miserable for him at the restaurant. He would constantly put him down in front of the employees and eventually the employees didn’t respect him and showed it. One day my husband finally couldn’t do it anymore and quit. I was working full time at a medical office. Our house was paid off so we were fine. 4 years later my husband is still unemployed and struggling with alcohol addiction. He wants to quit and often goes a month without alcohol but then he either gets a call from his father or he sees his father and just the interaction makes him go back to drinking. He saw a therapist for 4 years but eventually had to stop going because we couldn’t afford it on my small salary when I was paying all the bills. I started nursing school a few months ago and for one year I told him I would not be able to work at all during nursing school and to please find a job but he hasn’t. My husband is not lazy by any means. He cooks 3 delicious meals a day, he does all the laundry, and everything to do with the house. The thing is he has ZERO confidence in himself even though I’ve never met a more capable person in my life. He is very smart, way smarter than I am. I really feel if he could find a purpose in life he could come out of this. He feels he is too old to go back to college (he is 35) and just doesn’t know what kind of job he could get without needing a degree. I am now months into the nursing program which is super expensive (I am paying for that with my savings). We are living off of his savings. My husband is good with the stock market and has a few thousand dollars saved. I have nursing school stress, financial concern stress, and stress for my husband’s health. He has physical signs of what the alcohol is doing to him. He has told me on a few occasions that if I wasn’t in his life he would have already killed himself. The guilt of him not providing for me is really affecting him but at the same time he just can’t make himself get out into the world and find a job. He is just scared of the world and no matter how much I encourage him, he just doesn’t have the confidence to try. I just wish I knew what else I could do to help him. How can I help him find a purpose in life.

How to help him find a purpose in life

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Hello, L212K! I come from a family with a lot of alcoholics so my heart is with you. I don’t need to tell you it’s difficult to have someone in your life struggling with substance abuse. But before we dive in, I’ve got to ask you a few questions first. My most important question is: has HE expressed any interest in turning things around for himself? Have you talked to him about any of the things you’ve mentioned in your post? And if so, what have you said? Unfortunately there’s really only two solid pieces of advice I can give you. It’s clear that you care for him, or at least feel responsible for him, but at the end of the day, he’s the only one who can make this decision. In this situation the most you can do is tell him how his actions make you feel and the struggles that you need help with. For example, you might say you appreciate the good care he takes of your home, but at the same time you feel alone keeping the bills paid and studying for school while he drinks and lets fear paralyze him. However, I have to say again: you can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to. Big steps like quitting alcohol require lots of support, but that’s the only thing you can offer him. The decision to move forward will always be his. You can suggest harm reduction techniques, in this case that might look like cutting down from a bottle a day to just half of a bottle, and to try something that will rebuild his confidence. Based on what you’ve written here (he “doesn’t know what kind of job he could get without needing a degree”), I wonder if he’s set his expectations for himself too high? You’ve mentioned his several years of restaurant experience, and there are places in my town that refuse to hire anyone without that. If food service burns him out, he could find a part-time job as a clerk or stocker. The bonus of this is that if college does still interest him, many companies prefer to keep talent in-house and offer tuition assistance for employees who study while they work. At the very least a job is experience under his belt and a little something towards the bills every month, and in this economy you need every little advantage you can get! BUT, BUT, BUT. None of these things matter if he won’t step up and choose to do it for himself. I don’t say this to discourage you; I say this to remind you that you are a capable woman who doesn’t need to break her back for someone who can’t help themself. You say you aren’t smart, but school is difficult, especially if you’re the one who’s planned and worked so hard to go with another adult in the house who isn’t bringing home a paycheck to help you! He isn’t a “bad person” for struggling with his alcoholism or abusive family, but as your husband he owes it to you to stand a little stronger and support you the same way you’ve supported him. In this world the only power you have is power over yourself and your actions. You can encourage him and communicate to him the way you feel, but this is always going to be something he needs to choose for himself.

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