Alcoholism is an ugly disease that can tear families apart, but you don’t have to let it happen to you. In addition to reading pamphlets and attending AA meetings, here are five other ways to help an alcoholic spouse.
5: Don’t Nag
They’re your spouse, not your child, and any attempt to micromanage their life will likely make them want to drink. Remember, an alcoholic knows they shouldn’t indulge. That isn’t the issue. The issue is having enough strength to resist temptation, and if you’re always looking over their shoulder and waiting for them to mess up, you aren’t showing belief in their willpower.
4: Build New Habits
Help your partner banish the behaviors that led them to drinking in the first place. If they went to the bar after work, find them a new route for getting home; on your next date night, go to a new place that doesn’t serve alcohol. The goal is to replace all rituals and routines with ones not associated with drinking.
3: Enforce Boundaries
It isn’t enough to simply set boundaries; you need to actively, consistently enforce them. For example, if you’ve told your spouse that they won’t be allowed to see the children while they’re drunk, then don’t make excuses and exceptions and let it happen anyway. It may seem harsh, but “just this once” is the same mentality that sends an alcoholic to the bottle. You need to make it clear that your marriage has different rules.
2: Don’t Take it Personally
How would you feel about giving up a limb? Such is the despair when someone with a dependency on alcohol is suddenly forced to go without. Prepare yourself for bad days and hot tempers. Try to remember that it isn’t about you, even when they’re picking a fight or saying things to push you away. The most important thing is to be there for them in sickness and in health.
1: Do Your Research
The biggest way you can help your loved one on the road to recovery is by understanding alcoholism. It’s a disease, and it should be treated as such, so learn how to recognize the symptoms, support the diagnosis and lend your hand to the treatment. The only way you’re going to get through this is together, so keep your head high and your heart open and wait for this storm to pass.