What to Do When You are Married to an Alcoholic

When you first walked down the aisle, you might not have had any idea that the love of your life was or would become an alcoholic. There are so many factors at play that contribute to a spouse developing an addiction to alcohol. Genetics may play a factor, but so can poor coping skills, adverse childhood events, learned behaviors from friends and family, high stress, etc. Whatever the reason, it is not your fault that your spouse became addicted to alcohol. The following are some tips for surviving and thriving while being married to a spouse struggling with alcohol addiction:

  • Don’t accept their blame: Alcoholics tend to blame everyone else for their problems. Don’t take responsibility for something that is not your fault.
  • Let them experience the consequences of their poor choices:It can be embarrassing and socially awkward to have other people know that your spouse is struggling with an alcohol addiction. Remember it’s not your fault that they have an addiction. When they make bad choices and struggle with the consequences, they have an opportunity to grow and learn from their mistakes.
  • Don’t isolate:Reach out for help from others. Make time to spend with friends and extended family. Find a counselor for yourself. Do activities that you enjoy. Find a support group for family members of alcoholics.
  • Don’t accept abuse: Spouses that are generally kind and caring when sober can become really dangerous and mean under the influence of alcohol.No one deserves to be abused. If your physical safety is in danger, get help by calling 9-1-1 or a domestic abuse hotline. If you are suffering from emotional or verbal abuse, consider leaving the situation. No one deserves to be treated that way.
  • Develop proper boundaries in your relationship with your spouse.It’s common for alcoholics to have poor boundaries with others. When you develop proper boundaries you can take care of yourself better and allow your spouse to be aware of your limits and their own as well.
  • Don’t use alcohol as a pacifier for your spouse: Do not buy alcohol or provide it to your spouse when they are acting up. This is called enabling, and it only makes the addiction worse, not better.
  • Be honest about their addiction: Pick a time when they are sober and talk to them about your own feelings and concerns. Don’t be dismayed if they try to blame you or deny how bad the problem really is. This is all part of the addiction.

One option to consider for treatment for your spouse is an intensive outpatient program NJ. It’s a way for your spouse to continue to work and carry on normal life while getting professional help, including medical treatment to reduce the discomfort of withdrawal. There is often help available for spouses of patients in the intensive outpatient program NJ.