Being in a relationship or marriage with an alcoholic is challenging, frustrating, and extremely stressful. Living with someone with any type of addiction can affect all areas of your life. There will definitely be stress caused by the alcoholic or addict themselves, but a partner or spouse will also feel stress with themselves and how they are handling the situation. It can be difficult to know what kind of choices to make as a partner, and many will struggle in silence. The problem can easily dominate one’s life and negatively affect the relationship, careers, family, and other important areas.
There are no set rules when it comes to being married to an alcoholic, because it is a process that is different for everyone. However, there are a few guidelines that can help you keep a healthy perspective and establish boundaries with a spouse or partner. The following can hopefully help you deal with your partner’s alcoholism, and also know when it’s time to leave the relationship if necessary.
1. Don’t blame yourself.
This is often the first reaction a person has to their spouse’s alcoholism. An alcoholic will also tend to be in deep denial about their problem, and so they will place the blame on someone else. That someone else is often the person closest to them or who lives with them. When an alcoholic spouse starts blaming you, know that they are living in denial and there is no way you are the cause of their addiction.
2. Try not to take it personally.
An alcoholic will lie, break promises, and always go back to drinking. Going through the cycle of hearing them swearing to stop drinking, and then always going back can leave you feeling deeply hurt and betrayed. Remind yourself that their broken promises has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their alcoholism that has likely changed their brain’s chemistry in a way that makes it hard for them to stop.
3. It’s not your job to cure them.
The only way an alcoholic can get help is if they want it themselves. It’s not your job to cure them or force them to get treatment. The only thing you can do is tell them they need help and be there for your spouse when they do decide that a change needs to be made.
4. You don’t have to take their abuse.
Their is a fine line between living with an alcoholic spouse and putting up with their abuse. If your partner begins verbally, physically, or sexually abusing you, it’s time to take a stand. Establishing your own boundaries in the relationship is very important with an alcoholic spouse because it can be too easy for them to cross the line sometimes.
5. Don’t enable their behavior.
Covering up for a spouse’s drinking or bad behavior, buying them alcohol to control their drinking, or helping them hide a hangover are all examples of enabling. This kind of behavior only makes it harder for them to realize they have a problem, and less likely that they will get help.
6. Don’t be afraid to leave.
If life with an alcoholic spouse becomes a living hell that threatens the well being and safety of you and your family, then it may be time to leave. Doing so can be a wake up for the alcoholic to get help, and also the only way to protect your own health.