4 tips to help you deal with an alcoholic spouse
If your husband is an alcoholic, than you’re suffering from alcoholism as well. That’s because alcoholism is a “family disease”. To cope with your spouse’s alcoholism, you’ll develop defense mechanisms that get in the way of your own happiness. You might feel despair, hopelessness, even fear – despite being stone cold sober. The truth is that if your spouse is struggling with alcoholism, you become “sick” as well, and you need recovery.
Here are four tips that you must read, review, and remember to help you cope with your alcoholic spouse.
1. Remember that alcoholism is a disease: It is very hard to believe that your spouse is no longer making an active choice to drink. However, when someone is an alcoholic, the choice to drink is no longer within their control, at least to some extent. Alcoholism is a disease. And in order to fully understand it, it can be helpful to think of it the way you think of any other disease, such as cancer or heart disease. It is possible to make a choice to recover from alcoholism. But until the individual makes that decision, the disease remains in place. Approximately 40% of those who enter an alcohol addiction treatment facility opt to begin recovering from alcoholism each year. So, recovery is possible as long as your spouse is willing, and that may eventually be the case, even if it isn’t right now.
2. Focus on yourself: If you allow it to, your spouse’s alcoholism will take over your life. In fact, in a recent study by the University of Buffalo in New York and supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it was found that 50% of all marriages that involve one alcoholic spouse end in divorce. There is nothing you can do to change your spouse’s alcoholism. That type of change has to come from within him or her. However, what you can do is make sure you’re taking good care of yourself. Invest in your relationships with other people, with your children, and with your extended family members. Treat yourself to something you enjoy on occasion in order to give yourself a break from the turmoil at home, such as a pedicure or a night out at the movies with friends. Doing these things will give you the stamina and resolve you need during this difficult time.
3. Have a simple, honest discussion but do it the right way: It’s good to talk about how your spouse’s alcoholism is affecting you, and even your marriage, but make sure you choose your words carefully. Statements that begin with “You always…” or “You make it hard to…” are only going to make your spouse defensive. Instead, choose “I” statements to convey how you feel, such as, “I’m having a difficult time sleeping at night because of the late nights you’re keeping.” Be gentle, but be firm in your statements. Above all, don’t become angry or accusing.
4. If your spouse is interested in getting professional help, encourage this to happen quickly: Eventually, your spouse may come to you and express an interest in recovery. This is the time to encourage him or her to do so. You can provide website links or phone numbers to help. It is important to act fast because the determination to get help can fade as quickly as it appeared.