Dear Amy:

My husband walked out on us six months ago. For five of those months, he was basically on a bender. He wasn't home much when we were together, but now that we're not together he's really not around at all.

For the last month, he has finally sought the help he promised to get. But he is still not home.

I have supported his efforts, but I am still pretty angry about the whole situation. I feel like he should allow us to help him instead of shutting us out. He says he needs more time.

How long are we supposed to wait - or should we just move on?

- Wondering

Dear Wondering: Being a family member of an addict or alcoholic is incredibly isolating. People in the throes of their addiction are completely self-focused. Once they finally get sober, they want to continue that focus, only now it's part of their "recovery."

You shouldn't attach a timetable to your husband's behavior. You should both wait and move on.

By "wait," I mean that you should continue to be patient. "Move on" means that you are an individual in your own right. You need and deserve to have the best life possible. As the head of your household, you'll have to make decisions based on what's best for you and your family.

Being on a bender gave your husband cover for all sorts of behavior. If he stays sober, he'll have to face his choices without the crutch. He may choose to stay away, and you should prepare yourself for that possibility and do what you need to do to be healthy and happy.

If he wants to reenter your family's life, he should be willing to prove he's capable of making the effort to actually be in it all the way.

For support from other people affected by a loved one's drinking, check al-anon.alateen.org.