Addiction is one of the scariest diseases to watch a loved one go through, as addictive behavior can be a powerfully destructive force. Scientific research conducted at the University of Buffalo shows that marriages where one partner drinks heavily and the other does not have much higher levels of marital distress; approximately half of these marriages end in divorce.
Acknowledging your husband’s alcohol problem is the first step toward both of you getting the help and healing you need. Here’s what to do when you’re married to an alcoholic.
Recognize That This is Not Your Fault
Many partners of people struggling with alcoholism feel that they are partially to blame for the problem. We often get funny ideas about our role in things affecting our partners. For example, maybe you’ve thought, “Well, I really shouldn’t have bugged him about emptying the dishwasher. I knew he had had a few drinks after work” or “If I just left my work holiday party early, he wouldn’t have gotten so drunk.”
Although your choices have certainly impacted your spouse, it is important to realize that his alcoholism is not your fault. Self-blame is destructive to your own long-term health and happiness.
Prioritize Your Safety
Sadly, domestic violence is much more likely in homes where one partner is an alcoholic. No matter how much you want to be there to support your husband, it is essential that you keep yourself safe.
If alcohol causes your spouse to become physically or emotionally abusive, it may be a good idea to remove yourself from the situation for a little while. Staying with a friend or family member is a good solution until your spouse can get help.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Addiction causes many people to self-isolate and have a distorted perspective on their own life. Many people struggling with alcoholism are caught up in their own feelings of sadness, self-loathing, and shame. Your spouse may not even realize the negative impact he’s had on your happiness.
Keeping an open line of communication is essential to navigating marriage to someone dealing with alcohol problems. Whenever possible, keep things simple and honest. If you’re feeling scared, say so. Try expressing, “When you come home drunk, it makes me feel scared. You seem angry when you’ve been drinking, and it makes me uncomfortable to be around you.” Note that this approach limits the blame and name-calling. Instead, it simply highlights the consequences of your husband’s actions on you.
Set Boundaries and Stick to Them
Everyone has different limits, and it is okay to express yours. If you don’t feel comfortable being around your spouse when he has been drinking, then clearly set that boundary. However, you also need to be ready to enforce the boundary by leaving when your spouse begins to drink.
Express Your Love and Concern
Your marriage may be in a rough patch with your spouse’s problematic drinking, but that doesn’t always mean that there is no love or affection between you. When talking about your partner’s drinking, try to stay positive and focus on your concern for him. Steering clear of blame and showing that your statements come from a place of love may help him get motivated to seek help.
Remember that you’re not in this alone. Most communities have support groups or other resources for spouses of alcoholics. Find a group in your area to share your experiences and learn helpful tips for navigating a marriage with a problem drinker.
Give us a call or come visit our Sober Living Center In Los Angles California