Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 12 years, and I absolutely love her and the kids. But at family events, she tends to get really drunk and mean. Usually, I end up taking the lumps of her aggression, but sometimes it’s someone else. I feel guilty when that happens, because I’m just happy that it isn’t me.
Her family has a lot of issues, as does mine, and when we get together for events, she gets loud, obnoxious and downright ugly to whichever poor soul rubs her the wrong way first. She wakes up with a hangover, apologizes when she has to and pretends as if it never happened.
One example: Last weekend, her sister was in town (she’s a complete mess, but it’s way too long of a story to explain), and my wife went to visit her at their parents’ house. I stayed home because of work. She and her sister got into a fight that turned physical. She called me crying around midnight. I tried to talk her down, but it turned into her screaming at me over the phone.
My wife is the type who does not take kindly to suggestions, especially when she’s intoxicated. A simple “maybe it’s time to go to bed” will inevitably unleash a vicious monster that will scratch, tear and scream its way through anything that gets in its path.
How can I give her a “last call” when I see that something is about to happen? -- Concerned Husband
Dear Concerned: That vicious monster you’re dealing with is alcoholism.
Your wife needs to stop drinking. You should try talking to her about that when she’s sober. But alcoholism is a disease that sustains itself through the mechanism of denial, and you should know that her path to recovery may be a long one. In truth, it may be never-ending.
Living with an alcoholic can leave you feeling desperate and frustrated to tears — and also profoundly lonely because you feel as if you have no one to talk to about it. I encourage you to consider attending a local Al-Anon Family Groups meeting. The meetings are free and anonymous, and they’re open to anyone who is bothered by a loved one’s drinking -- so even if you don’t consider your wife an alcoholic, they’re still for you. My heart goes out to you, and I wish you all the best.
Dear Annie: I live in an apartment complex, and my upstairs neighbors recently had a baby. I swear that she is the loudest baby I’ve ever heard. I’m losing my mind from the lack of sleep. Why can’t they keep her content? And why would anyone with a newborn live in an apartment complex anyway? Should I talk to them? -- Newborn Insomniac
Dear Newborn: Sounds as if somebody needed to cry it out — and I don’t mean the baby upstairs. Your crankiness is understandable, but I’m not sure what exactly you plan on saying to the parents: “Excuse me. Could you please ask your 3-month-old to try to keep it down? I’ve got a big presentation tomorrow. I’m sure she understands.”
The fact is that these new parents are very aware of how loud their baby is. They have front-row seats to that opera. No doubt they feel bad about keeping up their neighbors, but there’s not much they can do.
What you can do, however, is invest in some tools to block out as much sound as possible. Invest in high-quality noise-canceling headphones, a white-noise machine or both. You might even consider talking to your landlord about options for installing soundproofing material on your ceiling.
Above all, try to be as empathetic as possible. Remember, you were once a baby, too.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.