Few marriages survive the impact of untreated alcohol addiction. This insidious disease destroys what’s supposed to be a sacred bond of love and trust. Whether your spouse has been struggling with addiction for decades or you’ve just started noticing the signs of alcohol dependency, recovery is possible.
If you’re afraid for your spouse’s safety and health and the security of your family, it’s time to address their drinking.
What It’s Like Living With a Husband or Wife Who Is Addicted to Alcohol
Whether you’re the wife or husband of someone with alcohol addiction, it’s difficult to live with a person who is battling this disease. Your spouse may think they’re hiding their alcohol use, but this form of addiction changes who they are and impacts those closest to them.
It’s nearly impossible to know how to live with a spouse who has alcohol addiction in a healthy way. You may find yourself falling into one of these negative patterns:
- Blaming yourself: Perhaps you’ve enabled your spouse’s drinking to avoid fights. As a result, you may feel like their addiction is your fault.
- Taking their drinking personally: Your husband or wife has probably promised to stop drinking over and over again. Sadly, without professional treatment, relapse is often just around the corner. When it happens, you may take their behavior personally, feeling as though your spouse has lied to you.
- Attempting to cure them: You may have tried everything to fix your wife or husband. Yet, scolding, shaming, and coercion does little to get them to stop drinking. Professional addiction treatment offers your spouse their best chance at recovery.
- Covering up their drinking: You want everyone to think the best of the person you love — your children, parents, friends. This desire may lead you to make excuses for your spouse’s behavior or hide evidence of their drinking problem.
- Accepting their behavior: Alcohol misuse changes the person you love into a stranger. This very fact may cause you to accept their behaviors. If drinking makes your husband or wife aggressive, abusive, depressed, or dangerous, it’s easy to blame the alcohol for these behaviors without truly addressing the problem.
- Enabling: Enabling is a common reaction to a spouse’s alcohol addiction. However, this misdirected desire to help doesn’t allow your husband or wife to see the full weight their actions are having on your family. Whether it’s bailing them out of jail or driving them to and from bars to keep them safe, your addicted spouse is unable to see the consequences of their disease if they always have you to fall back on.
How to Deal With a Spouse Who Is Addicted to Alcohol
Pointing out an alcohol addiction is not easy, especially if it’s someone you live with. Yet, your words may be what finally gets your spouse to see that they’re hurting themselves and others. Encouraging your husband or wife to get help may be the only way to rebuild your marriage after they’ve engaged in destructive behaviors for so long.
Support for spouses of people with alcohol addiction is available, which may be a good place to start. Whether you see a therapist, speak to a spiritual leader or attend a support group, you’ll gain the emotional support you need to move forward.
Once you’re ready to confront your spouse’s alcohol addiction, here are some steps that can help:
- Be honest. You have undoubtedly encountered so much emotional pain because of your spouse’s alcohol use. While they may deny they have a problem or lash out, what you’ve experienced and felt because of their addiction should carry weight.
- Keep it simple. Remember to stay focused. Keep the conversation short, simple and to the point. Don’t get distracted from the truth — you are trying to heal your relationship, not end it.
- Enlist the help of others. You are not the only one impacted by your spouse’s alcohol dependency. Ask others close to your husband or wife to share how this addiction has touched their lives.
- Commit to change. Whether it’s establishing boundaries or separating yourself and your children from your spouse’s addiction, change is essential. If your spouse is unwilling to get help, remember that your needs and the needs of your family are just as important.
Find Effective Treatment for Your Spouse
You can’t force your husband or wife to seek treatment. However, if they’re ready to admit that they struggle with alcohol addiction, the team at Gateway Foundation will walk with them every step of the way. We personalize each client’s treatment plan to ensure your spouse gets the physical, emotional, and psychological help they need to overcome addiction. Learn more when you contact Gateway today.