The best outcome for children of divorce is when both parents are stable, well adjusted, and eager to be a part of their children’s lives. Ultimately, even if the relationship between you and your ex is completely soured, your children will benefit from both parents being active and steady in their lives…as long as said parents are sober.
Dealing with an ex who has an alcohol problem can be stressful and scary, especially if your ex is still actively drinking. When your ex does recover, and subsequently gives up alcohol, and any other addictive behavior that went along with the drinking, you feel relieved and grateful that your kids can have a healthy parent again whose drinking no longer has to be monitored.
But what if suddenly, or not so suddenly, old habits begin to resurface? You can’t say in clear terms that they’re drinking again, but something just doesn’t feel right to you. Too many little signs keep adding up and have you concerned about your ex’s sobriety.
If you notice these 9 things, you may be right: your ex may be back drinking again.
1. Becoming More Forgetful
Unless your ex was already pretty lackluster in the memory department, if you or you and your kids find that they are frequently forgetting homework assignments, doctor’s appointments, school lunches, or even something as small as what you told them a few hours ago, they may be drinking again.
2. Hanging With Old Drinking Buddies
Is your ex Facebooking, talking, hanging out with or mentioning an old crew of drinking buddies? That sort of behavior is frowned upon after recovery. Those drinking buddies should be completely and utterly in the past. If your ex is keeping bad company again or even reminiscing about old buddies, be wary. Be very, very wary.
Was your ex the fun guy and now suddenly on visitation weekends they’re sitting around the house and letting the kids watch TV all day by themselves? Are they not playing with the kids as much? Have they been communicating with you less? What about other people? Your ex could be depressed, but could also be relapsing and withdrawing in order to avoid being caught.
4. A Sudden Short Fuse
We all fight with our exes now and then, but do you find your ex to be incredibly argumentative and then suddenly, apologetic? Does your ex attack you or get incensed more easily than normal? Do you find their behavior in general, less predictable? If you answer yes, there may be a relapse happening.
5. Surge of Compulsive Behavior
Is your ex engaging in other compulsive behaviors like eating or gambling? Are they going out with women on a dime and turning over to the next woman and then the next? These might not be behaviors you witness, but your children may see them. Any extreme tendency or obsession of something like food, gambling, sex, etc. could be a sign your ex is ready to turn to the bottle.
6. Less Dependable
Is your ex late for pick-ups and drop-offs? Do you find that he’s always rushing to get the kids from activities or school? Have your kids been waiting around for dad to show? He may be at the bar.
7. Shutting People Out
All the positive people your ex has in his life are suddenly disappearing…or so it seems. The reality is, if he’s making bad choices and drinking, he’s probably shutting people out. It’s not that they’ve abandoned him, rather he is shutting the door on them.
8. Looking Worse for Wear
Does your ex look bloated, disheveled or frazzled? Has he gained or lost an excessive amount of weight? People who have it together, look like they have it together—and keep in mind, nobody’s a perfect “10”. But that when your life is together, most people will look like they didn’t just roll out of bed for days on end.
9. The Kids are Expressing Concern
The kids have noticed a change in their Dad. If things seem odd to your kids, chances are they are right and you should validate their concerns because more than likely, your ex is drinking again.
Dealing with an ex in recovery can be unsettling for you and your kids, but staying aware of your ex’s behaviors while remaining supportive and positive can help tip you off to signs of a potential relapse.