Charlotte asks: My husband is coming home late from work almost every night now. His excuse is that there are a lot of projects his firm is working on, and that they go out to dinner together afterwards. But when he comes home, he seems different and I’m wondering if he might be using drugs? I don’t smell alcohol but he always seems so tired, just wanting to fall into bed and go to sleep before we have a chance to have any conversation. This is happening a lot now and I’m feeling very lonely in our marriage. How do I talk with him about this without making him get mad at me?
One of the hallmarks of codependency (aka “People-Pleasing”) is a strong desire to avoid experiencing conflict at all costs – and this often translates into trying to keep other people from becoming angry, frustrated or disappointed with us. But when we try to live our lives this way, it unfortunately can take a huge toll on our all-important self-respect because this need to avoid conflict can keep us from speaking our truth when we need or want to.
It sounds like you really need some answers from your husband about what is actually going on with him – and you have every right to ask him about it. There is a secretive quality in what you’re describing here, especially because he doesn’t seem to want to discuss it with you. The truth is that if you don’t speak up for yourself and tell him how you feel, what incentive would he have to do things any differently? This situation could go on for a long time, if you’re willing to put up with his behaviour.
You might want to consider getting some counselling about what is underneath your own need to allow this behaviour to continue, and why that might be easier for you (in the short run) than telling him how you really feel – even at the risk of him becoming angry. If he makes the choice to get upset with you for discussing an important issue in your marriage, that could be his way of avoiding what is actually going on for him.
All my best,