Dear Amy:

My wife has been an alcoholic for 25 years.

She lost her professional license and driver's license for more than 10 years over motor vehicle infractions. She claims (boasts) that she is in recovery, yet this year she has experienced several major slips.

When we dine out, she insists on having a drink. I view her one drink as a stick of dynamite ready to possibly set her off again.

She insists she will never cross the line, but under the guise of shopping trips she stops at a lounge for a few drinks.

She will be able to legally drive again in a few weeks.

My wife attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings but is not honest about her drinking. Needless to say, she has many people fooled, including herself.

I realize I am powerless over her disease, but feel I am sitting on an active volcano.

- Dumb Spouse

Dear Spouse: You are correct that you have no control over your wife's drinking, so you should focus on the only thing you can control: your own actions and reactions.

Your wife might actively deny how dangerous drinking could be for her, but there is no reason for you to participate in her fiction.

You need to practice "loving detachment," accept your powerlessness, but communicate consequences for her choices.

You can say, "I won't participate in your drinking. If we're out and you choose to drink, I'm going to have to leave the restaurant because I don't want to watch you relapse." Don't warn her further, and don't police her, but do what you need to do for your own sake and sanity.

You are hurt, angry, and anxiously waiting for your wife's alcoholism to explode; this is a terrible way to live.

You should attend Al-Anon meetings where you will meet family members of alcoholics. Check www.al-anon.alateen.org for a local meeting.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com.