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Living with an Alcoholic Spouse

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When you get married, you proudly take the vow of “for better or for worse”, knowing that marriage is something that you need to work at in order for it to work for you. Every single marriage has better and worse moments, even though most hope to never have to experience the worst moments. Unfortunately, though, many married couples are forced to deal with the disease of alcoholism and the many impacts it has on their lives.

Living with an alcoholic spouse can be one of the most difficult things you have to endure in your life. There is no handbook on how to handle a situation such as this, and there is certainly no easy way out of it all. Facing down addiction in your marriage is just as heartbreaking as it is overwhelming. Watching the one you love grapple with their continued use despite the consequences it is having can create an insurmountable amount of stress in your lives. And while everyday may seem to present its own unique obstacles, know that you are not alone. Alcoholism is something that occurs in 15 million people across the country, meaning that it affects millions more than that. That is because when your spouse is an alcoholic, their disease affects you and your loved ones. 

Signs Your Spouse is an Alcoholic

No one ever wants to think that their spouse has a drinking problem. The very idea that they could be an alcoholic can seem so extreme and personal that you quickly excuse away their drinking behaviors. And while denial is normal and attempting to fix the problem on your own is even more normal, there are often several signs being exhibited by your spouse indicating that the issue they are dealing with requires more than what you can give. 

Every marriage is different, just as every person is different. So, your spouse may display signs and symptoms of alcoholism that are unique to their situation. But generally, those who struggle with the disease of alcoholism often show many of the same signs that their drinking is not just recreational, but more serious. 

Your spouse may be experiencing alcohol use disorder if he or she exhibits the following symptoms:

  • Drinking at odd hours of the day or night, such as early in the morning or long after bedtime
  • Continuing to drink despite consequences that they may have experienced as a result of that drinking
  • Having financial problems as a result of funding their alcohol use
  • Facing legal issues associated with a DUI, disorderly conduct charge, or other crime that occurred while under the influence
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, such as pitching in to keep the house clean, taking care of kids, and making time for you 
  • Developing issues at work where they may be reprimanded, put on notice, or even terminated because of the slip in their performance 
  • Isolating from friends and family who question their drinking habits
  • Becoming derogatory, violent, or emotionally unhinged while drinking
  • Feeling like they have to keep drinking or order to function 
  • Engaging in activities where drinking is acceptable (e.g. having friends over to watch a football game, going to a cookout, etc.)

These are only some of the signs that your spouse may be an alcoholic. Of course, this is extremely difficult to accept, however there are things that you can do to not only help your spouse get into recovery, but also help yourself cope with what is going on within your home.

How to Cope with an Alcoholic Spouse 

When you have an alcoholic spouse, seemingly all of the attention is placed on them and their needs. That is because alcoholics tend to drain the energy of those around them by making them worry about their whereabouts, increasing conflicts at home, creating financial distress, and so on. Plus, when you love and care for someone deeply, watching them go through this can serve as your greatest source of pain. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help yourself cope with the impacts of your spouse’s alcoholism. Consider the following:

  • Seek support — Within your very own community are support groups that can help you vocalize and process what you are going through. Al-Anon, the sister group to Alcoholics Anonymous, is the leading support group for the loved ones of alcoholics. Al-Anon focuses not on how you can fix your spouse, but how you can cope with this disease. There, you will be able to share your experiences and thoughts while listening to those of others. The cycle of sharing and listening can help you develop skills needed to manage your reality to the best of your ability.
  • Ask for professional help — It might sound completely backwards to even consider asking for professional help for yourself, but in many cases, it is necessary. Speaking with a therapist can give you the personalized attention you need to manage the thoughts and feelings you are having. 
  • Set boundaries — Something you can do without the help of anyone else is set boundaries. You get to decide where your comfort zone lies and you are entitled to protect that. You may consider setting boundaries such as not allowing your spouse to come home drunk or taking control over your joint bank accounts to manage the family’s money. Setting boundaries within your household can help keep from enabling your spouse and encourage them to get help.

Above all else, know that you are not alone. By reaching out and asking for help, you can get the support and boost you need to make it through the challenges that alcoholism presents.

Do You Need Help? Call Us Right Now.

If you have a spouse who is struggling with alcoholism, do not hesitate to ask for help. You do not have to take this challenge on by yourself, nor would anyone ask you to. We understand the deep impact that your spouse’s alcoholism has on you and we are here to help. 

Do not wait any longer. Call us right now to get the help that you deserve.

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