DR. WALLACE: My boyfriend and I had been dating for more than six months when we graduated from high school last June. My parents encouraged me not to get married but admitted that they might have been mistaken when they saw how happy I was at that time. For a few months, everything was great.
However, recently there has been a big change with my husband. About a month after we got married, he started going out with his friends after work. Sometimes he doesn't come home until after midnight, and he always has alcohol on his breath. A few times, I've even noticed lipstick. When I complain, he tells me to shut up or he will shut me up himself.
So far, he hasn't hit me; but he has left me scared several times, and he twisted my arm once. Not really hard but enough to scare me in the moment. My friend told me that I should call a domestic abuse hotline number and ask for advice. Do you agree I should do this so early in our marriage, or am I likely just overreacting? — Concerned, via email
CONCERNED: Your best source of help and guidance could be your mother and father. Seek their advice immediately, today, and tell them the full story with all details included. If you feel your life is threatened, move home with them if suitable. Your parents (and you, depending on the situation) should have a sit-down meeting with your husband at once. And yes, another resource you can potentially use is the National Domestic Violence Hotline number at 1-800-799-7233. That line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides crisis intervention and information.
I am not sure of your parents' situation, but it is imperative that you immediately create an intervention — be it with your parents, his parents (if feasible, depending on personalities and your relationship with them), a trusted relative, a counselor or even law enforcement. Take action now. Don't expect things to change if you simply give it more time. You are already in a dangerous situation, so take care of yourself and your safety first. If successful intervention is accomplished and IF your husband truly responds positively, that would be an excellent first step. If he makes great behavioral changes that are maintained as a result of this intervention, then you will be a lucky young lady. Sadly, issues like the one you are describing here are not easy to repair, but sometimes problems like this can be corrected before they reach the point of no return. Either way, take the actions I've recommended today. Listen carefully to the voices and advice of people who love you and care for your well-being above all else.
MY DAD IS ALL ABOUT LIQUOR
DR. WALLACE: My father has a good job and doesn't miss work very often, but my mom and I know that he is, unfortunately, an alcoholic. All he seems to do is work 40 hours a week, sleep for 56 hours and drink during almost all of his remaining free time each week. After he finishes supper, he starts drinking the "hard stuff" and does so until he goes to bed. On the weekends, all he does is eat, watch television and drink.
My father will admit that he is addicted to alcohol, but he says that he enjoys liquor and doesn't want to stop drinking. My mom and I are very frustrated, and we hate to see him waste his life almost exclusively on alcohol. We feel he is also wasting our lives to some degree, and we don't socialize with friends or take vacations at all. Is this behavior abnormal? What can we do? — Anonymous, Lafayette, Louisiana
ANONYMOUS: It's extremely difficult to control the amount of alcohol or number of alcoholic beverages an adult consumes, and home treatments such as threatening, preaching or nagging are nearly always a waste of time. Rarely will an alcoholic stop drinking on his or her own. It appears that, for now, your father thinks more about alcohol than he does about his family. Make sure he reads your email and my response — when he is sober. It just might cause him to see the damage he is doing to his family, as well as to himself.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.