Living with an alcoholic can put a major strain on any relationship. Find out, here, some of the best ways to avoid this destroying your marriage.
Alcoholism is a destructive addiction which has the potential to affect the lives of those suffering from it, as well as the lives of those who are closest to them. Living with an alcoholic is something no one should have to go through and, in many cases, it can result in the fracturing of families and relationships.
So what can you do if you are currently living with an alcoholic? You will, understandably, have concerns over what the future may hold. It may even be the case that your personal situation calls for a divorce consultation to help you prioritise your and your family’s well being.
That said, this doesn’t have to be the case, as there are a number of top tips you can follow to help cope with the situation. For some pointers to keep in mind to help you avoid letting alcohol ruin your marriage, read on…
How Can I Tell if My Partner is an Alcoholic?
For starters, it’s important that you decipher whether your partner is, in fact, an alcoholic or not. But what are the key signs?
Well, if you believe that your partner is an alcoholic, you may already be feeling the effects within your marriage, and this can be a sure sign. Perhaps you’re engaging in frequent arguments and, in the worst case scenarios, you’re experiencing abuse and financial hardship.
In reality, though, it’s not always easy to recognize the signs which could indicate whether someone is an alcoholic. Some of the characteristics of an alcoholic, which should help you to recognize it, could include but are not limited to:
- A dependency on alcohol to function;
- Hiding drinking from others;
- Drinking alcohol only to get drunk;
- Regular binge drinking;
- Or, becoming restless without access to alcohol.
The reality is that no two cases of alcoholism are the same, and your partner may be demonstrating a combination of signs. That being said, it’s vital that you recognize how your partner’s behavior may be affected by alcohol. This way, you can make the necessary steps to support both them and yourself.
How Can I Help My Partner to Recognize That They are an Alcoholic?
Your partner may not be able to accept that they are an alcoholic, but that should not get in the way of addressing the situation. Don’t wait for them to admit to you that they are an alcoholic because, in some cases, they may continue to deny it.
If they aren’t willing to accept that they have a problem, then you will need to be able to firmly tell them what the reality of the situation is from your perspective. But how?
Describe to them how alcohol is affecting their life, but try not to scold them or immediately resort to being confrontational. Through proper communication, you may be able to make arrangements without the problem escalating.
7 Top Tips For Living With an Alcoholic
It’s no secret that all of this will be extremely stressful for you and the rest of your family. That said, extreme measures don’t have to be taken just yet. So, if you think you’re living with an alcoholic, here are some of my top tips to help you through this difficult time…
1. Look After Yourself First
If you are living with an alcoholic, you may find yourself dedicating all of your energy into trying to help them. This is likely to leave yourself physically and emotionally spent. The most important thing to remember, though, is that you cannot blame yourself or take full responsibility for the situation you find yourself in.
It’s not selfish to take time for yourself and your children, which could mean giving yourself a safe space to take yourself away from your partner. Try not to let the situation disrupt your work, hobbies or other relationships – especially if it means your own wellbeing suffers as a result.
In general, if your partner’s alcoholism is putting you or your family at risk of danger, don’t remain in the house. There is absolutely no shame in taking yourself out of that environment immediately, as your safety comes first.
2. Lean on Your Loved Ones for Support
When living with an alcoholic, the most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be trying to handle the situation entirely by yourself. So, with this in mind, don’t forget to reach out to your friends and other family members for support during these difficult times. There will always be people you can turn to, to give you a helping hand.
3. Don’t Enable Their Behaviour
It’s natural to be feeling a sense of empathy for your partner if they’re struggling with an alcohol addiction. That being said, it does not mean that you can enable their behaviour in any way, even if it means making life easier for yourself in the short term. You will just be adding to your troubles by doing this.
So, what’s the difference between enabling and supporting? Well, if you’re enabling an alcoholic, you’ll be doing things they would normally be able to do for themselves if they were sober. This can include:
- Denying or justifying the situation to friends and family;
- Making excuses on your partner’s behalf;
- Punishing your partner’s behavior.
In doing this, you may feel as though you’re helping the situation but, in reality, you are only likely to make things worse. It could even cause you to sever the very important familial and friendship ties you’ll need as your support system.
Another type of enabling would be to offer incentives or rewards. This doesn’t ‘cure’ the issue at hand, and simply deflects away from the root of your partner’s addiction rather than properly addressing it. Even though you love your partner, be careful not to fall into this trap.
4. Don’t Control Their Behavior
Controlling your partner’s actions, and trying to find a ‘cure’, is not something you should ever have to concern yourself with. Instead, letting natural consequences occur will mean that your partner will eventually face the problems that their alcoholism is causing upfront.
5. Open Up an Effective Dialogue
While it may seem like an impossibly difficult task, directly approaching the problem can often be the most effective option available to you. The best way of doing this would be to open up a dialogue with your partner where possible, so you can talk through how their alcoholism is affecting your relationship.
This will give you the opportunity to get a better understanding of why alcohol is having such a hold over their lives. It’ll also allow you to express how you are feeling about the situation. This could really help to evoke a response in your partner, who may have no clue as to how you’re being affected too!
6. Try to Convince Them to Ask for Advice
By expressing your concerns, you may be able to help your partner take the first steps to recovery. If your partner is able to accept that they are an alcoholic, and can see the effect it is having on your relationship, they may be convinced to accept help.
These sessions will allow your partner to discuss their addiction with others who are also suffering, with the goal to help one another in battling their alcohol addiction. These sessions can be hugely beneficial, not just for your partner but also for yourself. This way, they can openly discuss their issues and receive advice from others who find themselves in a similar situation.
7. Set Clear Boundaries and Stick to Them
Once you have opened up a dialogue, it’s vital that you set clear boundaries with your partner. This way, there won’t be any confusion over what you will do if there are no changes, or the situation gets worse. It should be made clear that the boundaries are for your own benefit, rather than as a way of trying to control or influence their behavior in any way.
Once these boundaries are set, sticking to them under every circumstance is vital. Doing so may be incredibly difficult, particularly if it means taking yourself out of the environment. That said, if you fail to stick to the boundaries out of convenience, you will be putting yourself back to square one.
Think Your Partner Might be an Alcoholic?
So there we have it – my top tips for coping if you think you may be living with an alcoholic. These times will be hard for you, there’s no question about that. But, with the right support network around you, you can help your partner to get through this.
If you still feel as though you may need some more support, feel free to seek help from alcohol support groups, such as Al-Anon. They offer aid to the friends and family of problem drinkers, to give them advice on their next step.