Intervening with Affected Others
anonymous Asks ...
My son is married to an abusive alcoholic. I want to do an intervention. Not for her. This sounds bad but we hate her. He can not see how his wife abuses him physically verbally and emotionally. The physical abuse is not so major but she constantly puts him down in front of everyone. He makes a good paycheck and she just stays at home and drinks and when he gets home he has to clean up while she yells at him. Everyone knows she is an awful person but she manipulates and controls him and whispers bad things about us in his ear so now he barely wants to see us and he wont even come for holidays. She makes it seem like we are against her. The whole family wants to help him but he wont listen. He is in denial. Will an intervention like they do for alcoholics work to help him see that he needs’ to get away from her? We all want to do something.
Jim LaPierre Says ...
It's beautiful how much you want your son to be supported and loved.
From what you're telling me he is not ready to see the truth about his wife and it seems likely that an intervention that is designed to push him to see the truth about her is unlikely to be successful. I would encourage you to approach him with something far nore positive - that you're concerned for him. This can be communicated without attacking his wife. You can simply relate to him that he is loved and that you miss him. To state that you're concerned about him because he seems to sacrifice so much for his wife can be something you communicate in a way that doesn't leave him defending her. I'm not encouraging you to mince words or pretend that things are not as they are but rather I encourage you to offer something palatable - something he can accept. If all he hears is that he is loved unconditionally and that he has folks who want to support him in making changes that he wants to make - I'd call that a success.
It's understandable that you feel so negatively toward his wife - I urge you to bear in mind that your son chooses to be with her. She may be abusive but he chooses to be in this marriage and perhaps even feels responsible for her well being.
Large interventions are probably a bad idea - consistent messages of love, support, and acceptance of him regardless of his choices will likely yield far more benefit.
People change when they're ready or when they're forced. You can't force him - but you can make it clear that you're fully in his corner. Good luck