Tried And Tested Methods On Dealing With An Alcoholic Husband

Dealing With An Alcoholic Husband

Tried and tested methods on dealing with an alcoholic husband: this post is for the spouse of an alcoholic.

The best thing I want to communicate is just that even though it’s natural for you to feel imprisoned, you do have options. Acknowledging the options as options will make you feel better and will organize your situation in a way you may find helpful.

There are usually 3 options that the wife of an alcoholic can choose from:

  • Allow the alcoholism to remain your spouse’s problem
  • Educate yourself on Alcoholism and get support
  • Leave the marriage


The second option is educating yourself.  One of the things this should probably involve is understanding the health issues it involves.  However convenient the Internet is, I’d visit a book store or library along the way, and be sure to use only very reputable sources.  I’m writing this blog to give all the advice I possibly can, but what I’m doing is looking at things from the angle of personal experience.  And one of the things I can recommend from my personal experience is that arming yourself with the hard facts is the best thing you can do.  From there, you can move on to Internet boards and other peer-to-peer support mechanisms.

Then there’s the matter of seeing a counselor or other pro—either doing so yourself or bringing the spouse along.  To me, the key here is that talking with someone well-versed in the disease will at least cause you to feel not alone, and that is an end unto itself.

We then come to the final option: leaving the marriage.  This option, one hopes, you come to intuitively if he becomes violent or commits any other extreme, destructive behavior.  But if you are fortunate to not have gotten to that point, it can be hard to know when to leave.

The only thing I can say about this—based on my personal experience—is that if one can identify a clear time when you know you should leave, it’s when you see repetition of disappointments.  The same lack of reliability.  The same excuses, same broken promises.  If all of this stuff feels all too familiar, frozen in time and space, it’s perhaps time to leave.  At this point, the spouse has become a bad gamble.  If you leave and he or she makes improvements, that’s great, but you couldn’t be expected to predict this.

Now, let’s say you’ve gone the route of educating yourself and getting some support, and you feel that you’re ready to go forth and try to help your spouse overcome his disease.  Now what?  So, let’s take a look at a few ways of proceeding.


Discuss with your husband the problem at hand

Sitting down and having a thorough discussion is absolutely crucial.  You’ve probably had discussions before.  Maybe six times, maybe nine.  It has come up and is out in the open.  But that’s different from sitting down, clearing space, and saying ‘OK, we have to have a talk, right now.’”  For one thing, you’ll be talking about different things now.  You’ll be talking about the kinds of things you’ve learned as you’ve educated yourself over the last several months.

From there, go in and have a nice, levelled conversation, one that doesn’t veer into excessive emotion, even if it’s an inherently emotional topic.

Contact someone who can talk to him

Friends, a lot of what I’m talking about today involves not being alone.  You may be able to enlist a partner among his buddies.  If you find someone you know he respects, you may explain the issue and have him talk to your spouse.  Yes, I can see the problem here—if you’re outing your spouse to someone who hadn’t known the problem, you’re running a risk.  But you should be willing to do this, since the problem you’re in is bad enough and isn’t going to fix itself.

Remain Positive and loving around your husband

You need to balance your show of concern and the level of worry or fear that you may be going through or experiencing. Try to show your husband that you still love him and believe he will get over the problem. Avoid making negative remarks concerning his state when he is either drunk or sober. On the one hand, you’re trying to achieve something here, and that causes you to have to be tough at times, but being tough and being judgmental are two different things.

Don’t Clean up or Cover up his Mess

Remember, you’re trying to help and to make the situation better.  While support is important, you don’t want to coddle your spouse and keep him in the state he’s in.  He needs to elevate to a higher state.  All too often, a well-meaning spouse will bail the spouse out of little trouble at work, tell white lies for him, etc.  That’s ultimately not helping.

If he’s too hostile toward you when you refuse to help abet his alcoholism, he’s failed an important test, showing that things may not ever work.

assist your husband get off alcoholism in the long run.

Join Alcoholics Anonymous

Many people wrongly assume that this grouping is only meant for people who are recovering alcoholics; nothing could be further from the truth. This association has wonderful structures and serves as a large resource base for information and general support for family members and friends of alcoholics. The support structures in such associations usually prove to be very critical in helping you handle the highly stressful situation that you find yourself in. Listening to what other people have gone through or are going through will be a good source of encouragement and ideas too.

It is also worth noting that you don’t have to join and go for these meetings with your husband; if he is unwilling, the doors of the association are always open for spouses and family members of alcoholics; you really never know, maybe seeing you going for those meetings may just make him feel more comfortable to visit one himself.

If your husband goes ahead and enrolls or seeks help from a professional or center, then you may just be on the road to starting a new life with your loved one. There are certain things that may be required of you during this period when he is getting help, this includes;

Offer him all the support that he may require

You can do this by offering emotional, financial and physical support that he may need during this trying period. Some of the areas you can help in include helping him create time for his support group meetings by taking up some of his responsibilities at home. The rehabilitation process may prove to be expensive, keeping in mind his current problem, chances are that he may not have the financial muscle to pay for these services; make a point of helping him out.

Simple tasks like dropping and picking him up from the center can be a good starting point. Constant verbal encouragement is also recommended at all times during the entire period.

Get rid of all Alcoholic Drinks in the house

During his recovery period, make sure you remove all alcoholic drinks and drugs from the house. You should also ban the purchase of any alcohol for household intake. This will greatly reduce the temptation that may arise from seeing lots of alcohol in the house.

It is also not advisable to have house parties that involve the partaking of alcohol during this period; all this will help keep away any temptation from the recovering alcoholic. When having such parties, try to warn all the guests who are coming that the party will be in alcohol free event.

Offer him companionship and display patience

Here’s something you can feel good about: being a listening ear.  Here, you’re not being roped into something, exploited, abused, financially fleeced, etc.  It’s just about helping build up your spouse’s self-esteem.  Showing him you’re there for him (or her) in this way doesn’t necessarily invite him asking you to do other things.  Keep in mind that a good number of alcoholics usually regress during the first attempt; make sure you are ready for any disappointment that may arise during this trying period. Don’t give up helping your husband.

It ain’t easy, and keep in mind that deep down spouse himself knows what he’s putting you through.  With persistence, you can muddle through.

Photo Credit Trennyyy on Flickr