Walk Away. A perfectly acceptable choice. If it has all become too much for you then get out. Particularly if there is abuse of some sort going on. If you have children then walking away might be the safer option. Also, it doesn't have to be final. Leave the door open for a return if the situation improves. Perhaps such an event might make your spouse do something about his/her drinking.
Set Boundaries. Tell the alcoholic (preferably when he/she is sober) what you will accept from them. Tell them what you will do if they continue with their alcohol addiction. It is of the utmost importance you stick to these 'rules'. If you don't then the alcoholic will know you are not serious and continue with their drinking.Whatever you do, don't give them 'one more chance' - if you do you will find yourself giving them 'one more chances' on a regular basis.
Don't Enable. Enabling is when you make it possible for the addict to continue with their alcoholism with your behavior. A simple example might be buying them drinks or making excuses for their drinking.
Offer Support When Earned. If your spouse is making an effort to stop their drinking then offer support, if they ask for help then give it. Even if they have hurt you in the past, today is what matters and if they are making concrete offers to change then embrace them.
Don't Coerce. Forcing an alcoholic (through emotional blackmail, threats etc.) is not the way to solve the problem of an alcoholic spouse. They might get sober for a while but ultimately they will, in all likelihood, go back to the drink. You cannot force anyone to change.
Support For Those Married To An Alcoholic
If you are married to an alcoholic then you are obviously not able to seek support and advice from the closest person to you, your alcoholic spouse.
There are, however, other people you can turn to for assistance:
Al-anon is an international "fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems."
Al-anon is a 12 step group. It was set up specifically for relatives and friends of alcoholics. A group of people who have their own set of problems.
Such problems include low self-esteem, the inability to tell the difference between love and pity, and codependency attributes.
Al-anon is not for everybody. Some people feel that 12 step groups are too 'culty' and focus too much on the spiritual
However, Al-anon does offer support among an empathetic group who can relate to your problems. You are not under any obligation and can take it or leave it.
Another option if you are married to an alcoholic is to go for counseling and/or therapy.
The advantages of this (over Al-anon) is that it is one-to-one which means it is tailored just for you and your problems.
Another advantage is that if your spouse were to get sober they could attend the sessions too.
The disadvantages are that it requires quite a lot of time and a financial commitment.
Alcoholism and Marriage Should I Leave?
There are times when enough is enough and so it is with marriage and the alcoholic spouse.
It is never an easy decision to make and one that only you can make. It is not a sign of failure or weakness, rather it is a sign of strength.
To stay with someone who values alcohol more than you is a sign of weakness. It is much easier to maintain the status quo than make a break.
There are many people who stay in loveless marriages because they haven't the strength to get out.
Ignore what Mrs. Denny at number 21 says, ignore what society might think of you. To leave is to exercise choice, to exercise choice is to affirm your humanity.
Married To An Alcoholic When you MUST Leave
There are also times when it becomes necessary to leave an alcoholic spouse.
I can think of two situations:
WHEN YOU ARE SUFFERING ABUSE. Abuse can take many forms. There is physical, verbal, emotional, even, financial abuse. If you are a victim of physical abuse then get out as quickly as you can. I know that it isn't that easy but there are places and people you can turn to for help.
WHEN YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY VICTIM. If there are children or other dependents involved (that is living in the family unit). Then it is essential to take their welfare into consideration. Nobody likes to break up a family. But better a safe broken family than an unsafe family that doesn't work.
Married To An Alcoholic Alcoholic Intervention
An alcoholic intervention is when you employ the services of a third party.
His or her job is to help confront the alcoholic about their behavior and the impact it is having on them and those around them.
The ultimate goal of an alcoholic intervention is to persuade the alcoholic to go into alcohol addiction recovery.
Read alcoholic intervention for more on this course of action and employing the services of a professional interventionist.
Being married to an alcoholic is one of the most painful things you will ever have to cope with. Yet, it doesn't need to be, C.P.Lehman in his book, Help Me! I'm In Love With An Addict gives you the strategies that will enable you to find happiness and get your life back on track...as well as other skills that are crucial when attempting to cope with an alcohol dependent.
If you found this page helpful, then you might find the following related pages of interest:
Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice, Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)