HELP! My Spouse Drinks Too Much

spouse drinks too much PixabayWhat do you do when your spouse is drinking too much and it is negatively affecting your lives together? Do you continue to close your eyes to what’s going on? Do you keep hoping that someday he/she will finally wake up to the problems the drinking is causing? Have you “been there and done that” —continually closing your eyes, hoping things will change?

Or do you yell and scream and try to shame him/her into stopping this behavior? The question is: “How’s that been working for you so far?”

Excuses, Excuses

And then there are the excuses —you’ve probably heard a million of them! “I drink to forget” “I feel better when I drink” “I’ve tried to ‘get on the wagon’ …’every time I fail'” and more.

“Alcoholics offer many excuses — ‘Drinking makes me feel better,’ ‘It calms me down,’ ‘I’m more fun when I’m drunk’ and more —but these explanations only skim the surface of the deeper issues that usually drive and fuel a drinking problem.” (Ashley Michael, from article titled “But I’ve Got Reasons” formerly posted on Focusonthefamily.com)

Promises, Promises

And what about the promises your spouse has made that “things will be different?” (That is, if you’ve even received such promises!) Perhaps you can relate to the following comments that came from a wife whose husband has a drinking problem:

“I couldn’t count the times Bob promised he would never drink again. It was completely frustrating. Bob would look me straight in the eye and tell me he’s done with bingeing. He’d say, ‘I’ve seen how it hurts you and the kids, and I’ve had it. I promise you that I’ll never do it again!’

“Then in a day or two he was dead drunk. I thought he was lying to me. How could he love me and lie so many times to my face? But he wasn’t lying. He couldn’t keep his promise. Bob thought he could whip this problem with willpower. It’s like trying to stop diarrhea by making up your mind to do so.” (From Focus on the Family article “If my husband drinks a lot but doesn’t get drunk, is he an alcoholic?“)

Good Intentions… But…

That’s not the most inviting word picture to think about, but it has some truth to it, don’t you think? Your spouse may have good intentions but he/she is in a state of denial both mentally (not facing the truth) and in a state of denial physically (where the needs of the body deny him or her the ability to stop reaching for another drink unless he/she has serious help).

It’s difficult to talk to someone who is in a continual state of denial, as well. That is why you often need help to know how to best work with the situation you have been handed. When you are dealing with a person who is a heavy drinker, you aren’t speaking to your spouse so much as you are the alcohol he/she is using for numbing purposes —to cope with life in an unhealthy manner.

Wisdom Needed

When you are trying to deal with this type of dysfunctional partner you truly need wisdom. You also need to get help from someone who isn’t so close to the situation and can give you objective advice.

“A comment I often have clients, with a dysfunctional partner, repeat back to me is:  ‘Do not expect functional behavior from a dysfunctional person.’

“Learning to get our expectations in line with reality is a first step in dealing with reality. We are often the first person that needs a change of perspective. In therapy we call this ‘re-framing’ the situation.” (Delores Stone, Counselor)

Be Realistic

You need to “get real” within yourself and with your spouse. To help you with this, please read:

• GAMES ALCOHOLIC FAMILIES PLAY

• ARE YOU AN ENABLER?

So, in light of what’s been discussed so far, you may find the following advice from author Angie Lewis, to be helpful:

Detach With Love.

Be loving and supportive of the person you married, not the alcoholic. Don’t take any of the emotional garbage they dish out while drinking. Have you noticed how when your spouse drinks they start to berate you and want to start arguments? Don’t argue or fight back. Let them know you will not argue with them while they are drinking, period.

Above all, never allow the alcoholic to trespass against your spirit when they are playing one of their mind games. Walk away and close the door behind you. Go visit a friend, take a walk around the block, or put some earplugs in your ears. Your mental health is what helps the alcoholic the most. This is what detaching with love is all about. Detaching yourself from the disease is what helps the alcoholic see that he needs help.

To learn more read the following article written by Angie Lewis:

Married to an Alcoholic: 7 Steps to Helping Them Get Sober

Also, fom Skyler Sage: Realize that:

Alcoholism is a Family  Disease.

Substance abuse by a loved one affects the entire family. We also play our OWN part in the continuation and manifestation of the disease. Our marriage, our family, is like a mobile. Each of us has our own little piece of the delicately balanced structure. Every action on any of our parts shakes the mobile. Tenuous balance quickly becomes imbalanced, shaken up, disrupted. Our role as spouses, children, friends on this mobile is just as powerful as that of the alcoholic’s.

I believe this awareness is the first key in coping understanding that we play an equal part in the drama of living with an alcoholic. We are either part of the problem, or part of the solution with every word we speak, every secret we keep, every action we take, every action we avoid taking.

To read more, please go to:

• Coping With an Alcoholic Spouse – Skyler Sage

From Melinda Cook, comes the following advice:

“If you are not in any danger, continue to encourage your spouse to get help.”

Do not make it seem as though you are lecturing them though, they will rebel and continue in their disastrous ways. Find a support group, go to Al-anon meetings, and learn all you can about addictions. When they are willing to admit they have a problem, find places they can turn to for help in getting better. Coping with an alcoholic spouse can tremendously take a toll on you and your family.”

And it can, as you know.

Here are several additional helpful articles to read:

DO YOU LOVE AN ALCOHOLIC — Stop Rescuing (Pt 1)

DO YOU LOVE AN ALCOHOLIC — Setting Boundaries (Pt 2)

PREPARING FOR A STRUCTURED INTERVENTION

After all of this, you wonder, will the information help me? Is there hope for my spouse? To read the encouraging answer, please click onto the Focus on the Family web site link to read their response to the question. And then afterward click into the Todayschristianwoman.com web site to read what one wife of an alcoholic learned:

• My Spouse Is an Alcoholic Who Has Tried to Quit Drinking. What Should I Do?

Twelve Steps to Change

Pray and Glean

We realize we have given you A LOT of information to pray about and consider. We pray the Lord opens the doors of heaven and pours out His Spirit within you and your home. It is our prayer that He speaks powerfully to your spouse.

Helpful Organizations:

To give you direction where you can get help, the following are a few helpful organizations you may be able to contact. We realize that they are not available to help in every country, but for some of you, they may be able to help in some way:

What do you do when your spouse is drinking too much and it is affecting your lives together in a very negative way?
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The following came from a wife whose husband appeared to have a drinking problem. Can you relate?
“I couldn’t count the times Bob promised he would never drink again. That must be the most frustrating part of the experience — having Bob look me straight in the eye and tell me he’s through — really done with bingeing. He’d say, ‘I’ve seen how it hurts you and the kids, and I’ve had it. I promise you that I’ll never do it again!’
“Then in a day or two he was dead drunk. I thought he was lying to me. How could he love me and lie so many times to my face? But he wasn’t lying. He couldn’t keep his promise. Bob thought he could whip this problem with willpower. It’s like trying to stop diarrhea by making up your mind to do so.” (From the Question and Answer article “If My Husband Drinks A Lot But Doesn’t Get Drunk, Is He An Alcoholic?”)
That’s not the most inviting word picture to think about, but it has some truth to it, don’t you think?
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Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

If you have additional tips you can share to help others please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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136 responses to “HELP! My Spouse Drinks Too Much

  1. My partner drinks every night until he falls asleep. Sometimes he wakes up and goes for another drink. He does know he uses his drinking to numb the day. We have a good life but he is affecting the whole family. I do not know where to start and how to get him help. I am ready to leave.

    1. Hi Lynda, Three things you can do straightaway are to ask the advice of an organisation like Alcoholics Anonymous… and to suround yourself with friends and family whom you trust, wth with whom you can share these concerns. Far better than carrying such a nurden all by yourself. Third is of course, to pray… I hope these ideas help… WP (Work in Progress)

  2. First I want to say I love my family. I am still very much in love with my husband, but I’m tired of the drinking. I’m tired of being lonely; I’m tired of kids not having a father who is present. I don’t know what to do, he just finished yanking me out of bed and keeps threatening to hit me.

  3. I have been married since 2002 and my husband has had genetic mental issues, which just years were stabilized. We had been married for all this time. He’s a wonderful guy with so many great qualities. I am currently at the point where I’m ready to throw in the towel of our marriage. I have severe resentment towards him as he doesn’t understand my anxiety around this issue. It seems to be periodic.

    He starts with one glass or one bottle of beer, then slowly escalates to more and more daily. It seems he does not recognize his drinking pattern. A week ago he bought a whole bottle of gin, which he now has managed to drink empty. Today he drank 5 glasses of it, I had to stop this by emptying it out or else he would just drink and drink and drink. Drinking runs in his family and it just hurts me so much to see him going down like this.

    He also becomes obnoxious when he drinks, nothing helps. I have severe anxiety during his episodes and although I love him I can’t see myself living like this. I’d rather leave him. I mentioned therapy for both of us, but he will not have it. Not sure what to do because he does not see the seriousness in what I’m saying. I’m at a loss. He stops then starts, stops and starts. It’s embarrassing and takes a toll on our relationship. Don’t know what to do anymore. Any advice because if he continues, I have to leave him.

  4. I have been married since 2002 and my husband has had genetic mental issues which just a few years ago were stabilized. We had been married for all this time. He’s a wonderful guy with so many great qualities. I am currently at the point where I am ready to throw in the towel of our marriage. I have severe resentment towards him as he does not understand my anxiety around this issue. It seems to be periodic. He starts with one glass or one bottle of beer, then slowly escalates to more and more daily. It seems he does not recognize his drinking pattern. A week ago he bought a whole bottle of gin which he now has managed to drink empty. Today he drank 5 glasses of it, I had to stop this by emptying it out or else he would just drink and drink and drink. Drinking runs in his family and it just hurts me so much to see him going down like this.

    He also becomes obnoxious when he drinks, nothing helps. I have severe anxiety during his episodes and although I love him I can’t see myself living like this. I’d rather leave him. I mentioned therapy for both of us, but he will not have it. Not sure what to do, because he does not see the seriousness in what I am saying. I am at a loss. He stops then starts, stops and starts. It’s embarrassing and takes a toll on our relationship. Don’t know what to do anymore.. Any advice because if he continues I have to leave him.

    1. Hi Horrible situation, I am so sorry for your situation and I would have responded immediately had I seen this text earlier… At the rate you describe, your husband’s health will soon be severely affected if it isn’t already.

      Your husband needs to understand that you will not and cannot live like this any longer. He needs to see that there will be significant consequences if he doesn’t decide to seek help and change this destructive pattern. It is not my place to recommend breaking up a reltaionship, and I’m not doing that here, but at some point you need to pay attention to yourself too. You need to consult outside professional help for this. Get their advice and go from there, better today than tomorrow.

      You do not mention children, but I grew up in an alcoholic home and I wish that on no one. It is true that come families are predisposed toward alcoholism, this problem does exist in my family. I have a twin brother, a younger brother and a younger sister. All three have battled with this problem as well. All three have gotten outside help, and are all now doing far better. It is true that they have to conciously steer clear of compromising situations and, so far, are disciplining themselves to control their envroments and keep this problem at bay… I hope you find outside help, it is there you know!! Take care, WP (Work in Progress)

  5. I am writing this post to try and get advice with a problem that I have. Me and my wife have a good life; kids, holidays, weekends away; but my wife cannot have a drink with out getting so drunk she struggles to stand and slurring her words. There is a side line to this – her tolerance to alcohol is not high and seems to be getting lower, so its not really the amount she drinks, one pint of stella then a cider then large wines but the slurring starts after the cider she gets argumentative if I comment. She will never drive anywhere and always wants a drink, although we do as a rule drink Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but during the week we live very healthy lives.

    I am getting to the stage I dont want to go away for the weekend as she is drunk by 8.30 and wants to go to bed. We had a family party at home the other week and I had too much to drink and the next day the comments were “it’s ok for you to get drunk” I didn’t say to her that she gets that way every single time she drinks. I can see that this will over time as it is starting to make me more and more angry and will drive a wedge between us, even the kids, now they are getting older, have started to comment.

    I dont think she is an alcoholic but has a problem with drink, we even stop January and February every year. I do feel as if I am on egg shells trying to talk about it because she feels she is doing nothing wrong. I dont want to stop drinking but to stop getting drunk. Advice please.

    1. Martin, you are not going to like this answer, but because you came to our web site looking for help, here it is: If you do not remove all alcohol from your home and your lives this will split you apart, even if it doesn’t eventually kill you. If you can tell me one positive thing alcohol has done in your life, your wife’s life; one positive thing it has done for your family life, then you might have an argument for continuing what you’re doing. You say you don’t think your wife is an alcoholic, but I believe if she can’t stop drinking alcohol all together without getting angry, edgy, or abusive, or you can’t approach her on this without fear of walking on egg shells – then she IS AN ALCOHOLIC. And she needs help.

      If you don’t stand up to her and remove all alcohol from your home and lives you are enabling her addiction and I can almost guarantee it will destroy your marriage and family life. If you are serious about getting help here is a link (http://www.celebraterecovery.co.uk/celebrate-recovery-where-you-are/) for you to check out a program called Celebrate Recovery. I believe they have a program in your area…and I believe you BOTH need this, and not just your wife.

      You don’t say you have a faith walk with Jesus Christ, but I believe God brought you here to give you a chance to stop and reverse the destruction alcohol has been in your lives. I hope you don’t blow this off as there may not be another “chance” in the future. Ask yourself these questions: 1) What’s the worst that could happen if we stop drinking and remove all alcohol from our lives? 2) What’s the best that can happen if we get help and stop drinking?

      I pray for you as you consider what I’ve shared. You’re answers will determine the course of your future, and possibly future generations in your family. Blessings!

  6. Hi there. I have problem with my wife; she drinks a lot and when I speak with her she will tell me that she is having her own life and she is not an angel. We have 2 boys, 6yrs and 1yr right now. I don’t know what to do; she leaves the kids with me till 4am the next day or with the neighbor. Sometimes I will come home from work and I have to cook for them because of her. Also she will eat making noise telling me she loves me and she won’t cheat on me, which I don’t mind about that. Please help.

  7. Hi,I have been with my husband for 8 years now. I’m 9 months pregnant with our second son. My husband drinks daily til he gets drunk and then goes to sleep. I’m so worried about who will help me with the new baby when he arrives any day now! I’m lonely, stressed out and just want to leave my husband. I have tried to be understanding but all I get is threats, lies and empty promises. He doesn’t spend time with me or his son and would rather sit outside and drink his beers and then go to sleep! We have a beautiful home, good jobs and a good life. Why is he doing this? I don’t know what do I do. I don’t want want to put my kids through a divorce but for how much longer do I put up with this? I need help or advice, so lost right now!

  8. First, let me say how thankful I am to have found this site. It helps to not feel so alone. I married a recovering alcoholic 22 years ago and this past year, he fell off the wagon…hard! He had a massive heart attack in July and said that was his wake up call to stop…which hasn’t happened. I am at my wits end and cannot continue to watch him destroy himself anymore. Our 20 year old son is devastated about what his dad is doing….we need prayer. Thank you.

  9. I have been with my boyfriend for 11 years, I consider him my husband. He likes to go out with his friends to a friends house who lives close by. That usually doesn’t bother me but the problem is that he arrives the next day at 9 am drunk or sometimes he keeps it going for the whole weekend and comes back on a Sunday. Ever since he started hanging out with a certain friend he also likes to drink on weekdays and sometimes misses work. I believe he is a binge drinker because once he starts he cannot stop. When he sobers up he says how much he doesn’t want to drink anymore but then 3 days later he’s at it again with the same friend.

    I can’t have a normal conversation about our relationship and future because it upsets him and then he storms out and starts drinking. We don’t have kids together, I was pregnant once but when I started seeing his behavior I realized I shouldn’t have the baby with a man like that. Of course he blames it all on his mother who of course is a horrible woman. On school nights she used to get drunk with her friends and not let her children sleep. They took her children away and placed them in foster care for a while; then all three of them came back to live with her. Till this day she is a drunk.

    I need advice. Everyone keeps telling me I should leave him which is probably what I should do but its hard for me to walk away from him. He has taught me so much and is such a smart man. To walk away and see him slowly or quickly deteriorate will hurt me so deeply. He has turned into a liar, drunk and greedy man. He isn’t unfaithful – that’s about the only positive thing I can say. But I love him with all my heart and it hurts me to see him go though this. When he’s sober he’s so affectionate and sweet. My days now consist of just babysitting him instead doing my own activities and I’m pretty sure he’s addicted to weed and sometimes does cocaine. He doesn’t want professional help. Please what can I do to get my husband back to normal?!?

  10. My significant other of 18 years now has gerds from too much alcohol and pneumonia in his lungs from smoking. He’s been in the hospital for four days. I don’t smoke have wine on occasion and I am a very athletic and healthy person. We don’t live together because of his habits and none of mine except for healthy eating have rubbed off on him. Doctors told him he needs a change of lifestyle. His friends are all alcoholics and smokers. I already tried living with him but moved out from all of the dysfunction but continued to have a relationship for 18 years. He’s a really good, kind person but now I have had enough. I am going to do everything to support his lifestyle change. Got me it’s a way of life to be healthy but if he goes back to the same I want to leave him. Is that really so wrong. I don’t want the quality of my life to be taking care of him anymore since he does not want to take care of himself and I don’t want to be an enabler anymore. It depresses me in a unhealthy way.

  11. How do I stop my wife from lying to me? She is seeing an alcoholic counselor and another person recommending phased withdrawal. But she still goes out and buys alcohol to drink; I have talked to her and said please stick to the planned withdrawal and I will pour your drinks and do all I can to get you off alcohol for good. But at this time she does not seem to accept their advice from the proffesional, one of which is a recovered alcoholic. She as used this method Personally) and as been sucessful in stopping drinking alcohol. I love my wife; she was never like this. We would drink but only in moderation and when she has a drink she still lies to me when she knows she can have a drink so that we can ween her off alcohol. Advice would be appreciated. I have told her that while she is in denial she needs to admit to herself that she as a problem with alcohol.

    1. We cannot do things on our own, ask God to help you and your wife. If we rely on our own effort it is really gonna fail, so seek him and ask Him to intervene and deliver your wife. ONLY GOD can change him.