Living with an Alcoholic Spouse

By Deborah-Diane

When a young couple gets married, the last thing on their mind is the possibility that the person they are marrying could become an alcoholic.  Often, the problems develop gradually.

alcohol at boating partyIn the first few years of marriage, in fact, it is not unusual for the couple to spend time socializing with their friends, and drinking together.  Of course, one of them may frequently drink more than the other.  However, they both may occasionally suffer from a hangover and even laugh about their over-indulgence from the night before.  The couple will gravitate towards other friends who also like to drink and socialize, and so they will feel that their drinking is “normal.”

Eventually, however, things begin to change.  Perhaps children come into the picture, and one of them begins to cut back or even stop drinking.  If the non-drinker or light drinker is the wife, her spouse may not even realize at first that she has begun to drink a lot less than he is.

For example, she may have originally stopped drinking because of a first pregnancy.  After giving birth, she may have continued to drink very few, if any, alcoholic beverages because she is nursing her baby, or because she is caught up in the full-time job of caring for her new child.

Eventually, however, it suddenly becomes apparent that one member of the couple has cut back dramatically on their drinking, while the other member continues to drink heavily.

The heavy drinker may seek new drinking companions.  For example, a man may begin to hang out with his friends, leaving the wife and children at home.  Needless to say, problems can quickly begin to develop between the couple who originally got along so well.

This is a common story, and one that has been repeated worldwide countless times.  It is at this point that both the husband and wife need to seek help if the marriage is to succeed.

Of course, if the alcoholic spouse denies that they have a problem, and many of them do, it may be a long time, if ever, before they will get the help that they need.  In the meantime, is there anything the sober spouse can do?

Fortunately, there is help available.  The best place to start is by seeking out the Alanon meeting nearest you.  Meetings are available around the world, often in a variety of languages.  For example, you can find Spanish speaking meetings in the United States, and English meetings in Asia and Europe.

Alanon is an organization that provides support, help and information for the friends and families of people who are addicted to alcohol, drugs or both.  In Alanon, the spouse of an alcoholic will find other people who are experiencing similar problems.  They will also be given literature they can read with helpful suggestions for reducing the tension in the family.

Alanon meetings are free of charge.  However, they do usually ask for small donations of a dollar or two to help cover meeting expenses.  If you cannot afford even this amount, you will not be forced to make a donation.  Alanon members will also keep your situation private.  You are not asked to reveal your last name.  Your anonymity is protected, and your personal problems will be kept secret.

In time, you may discover that your alcoholic spouse will finally decide to go to Alcoholics Anonymous or to an alcohol treatment center.  When this has happened, many marriages have been saved, and even restored to their original love and happiness.

However, even if this never happens, you will find a caring circle of friends in Alanon who will help you as you make thoughtful, unhurried decisions about your own life and future.

It is possible to live with an alcoholic spouse, whether or not that spouse is sober.

 

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