Alcoholism Tips for Spouses

Is Alcoholism Negatively Affecting Your Marriage?

From heated arguments and neglecting responsibilities to financial burdens and legal issues, there’s no denying that trying to move forward in a marriage where alcohol is the third person is not easy.  Even if you think you’re familiar with the signs of alcoholism, recognizing them in someone you love can be complicated. Still, it’s important to know the difference between acceptable social drinking and alcohol addiction. Being able to distinguish between the two is essential to getting your spouse the help they need.

No one wants to face the reality that their spouse may be an alcoholic, especially if you’ve never considered their drinking to be out of control before. You may not be sure how to determine if their alcohol consumption is dangerous or not, however, there are concrete steps you can take to confidently recognize if what you thought was social drinking is really alcohol abuse. If you confirm that is, don’t delay in seeking professional help.

How to Recognize Alcoholism

If you suspect that your spouse may be addicted to alcohol, here are a few indicators:

  • Using alcohol to relax: Pouring a drink at the end of a stressful day isn’t necessarily something to be worried about. However, if it happens every day or in times of stress, it could indicate a coping method.
  • You fight over their drinking, but they keep doing it: If you’ve told your spouse that you don’t like how much or often they drink, and they continue to do it anyway, they may have a dependency problem.
  • They ignore their responsibilities at work, home, or school: If your spouse is failing to fulfill their normal duties because of their alcohol consumption, such as taking care of your children or completing work-related tasks, they may be an alcoholic.

If you’ve noticed any or all of these behaviors in your spouse, do not blame yourself. Alcoholism can happen to anyone. Plus, it makes alcoholism incredibly difficult for the person who experiences it to be in total control.

How Can You Help Your Spouse with Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a very personal disease that affects people physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Because of this, it’s important to approach your spouse carefully and with compassion. Even if you mean well, not handling the situation appropriately can result in them resisting treatment, or worse, drinking even more.

When addressing their drinking habits with them, here’s what not to do:

  • Having a serious conversation while they’re drunk.
  • Joining them in binge drinking.
  • Threatening, bribing, or talking down to them.
  • Enabling them by covering up their behavior or making excuses, so they can’t see what they’re doing is wrong. 
  • Playing the victim; this will only drive them to drink more.

Even if you are careful about broaching the subject, it’s normal for alcoholics to deny that they have a problem. When this happens, it’s best to stay level-headed. Getting defensive or accusatory will only make a bad situation worse. Most importantly, no matter how your spouse responds when the time comes to face their addiction, you must remember that their addiction is not your fault. 

We Can Help

Alcohol addiction is powerful; there’s simply no way to shame, guilt, or talk someone out of drinking if they are truly an alcoholic. Thus, it’s critical to seek professional help if your spouse’s drinking is negatively affecting themselves, others, or your marriage. You don’t have to navigate through recovery alone. Fairwinds Treatment Center is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about alcoholism, planning an intervention, or our individualized treatment plans.



If you are ready to discuss treatment for yourself or a loved one, the Fairwinds admissions team is here to help.

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