As you might know, alcoholism is a family disease. If one person in your family is an alcoholic, it affects the entire family. It could be that verbal and/or physical abuse is present, the alcoholic is failing to meet their responsibilities, or their personality is changing.

If your husband is an alcoholic, all members of your family should seek help for how your alcoholic husband is affecting them individually and as a family unit.

Problems You May Be Facing as the Wife of an Alcoholic Husband

As the wife of an alcoholic husband, you are at the forefront of the alcoholism and there are problems you may face on a daily basis as a result of this. The effects of alcoholism by your husband are damaging to you as well as your alcoholic husband. Many of the issues you may be facing include:

  • Financial Problems: Your alcoholic husband may be spending a large amount of your family’s income on alcohol. He may also be putting his job at risk. Your alcoholic husband may be showing up late for work, ignoring his job duties, taking extra-long breaks, or coming into work reeking of alcohol. As the wife of an alcoholic husband, you may be living in constant fear of not having enough money to meet even the most basic needs of your family. 
  • Stress:  Living with an alcoholic husband isn’t easy, and you may be under constant emotional stress. Your alcoholic husband may be prone to extreme mood swings depending on how much alcohol is in his body. As the wife of an alcoholic husband, you bear the brunt of this behavior, and emotional stress can have a great effect on you and your family. 
  • Depression: As the wife of an alcoholic husband, the likelihood of you suffering from depression is increased. You may be feeling angry, stressed, shamed, hopeless, and/or be blaming yourself for your husband’s alcoholism. All of these emotions individually can lead to depression. 
  • Being Co-Dependent: If you become a helper for your alcoholic husband, you may be ignoring your own physical and emotional needs. It’s not unusual for the wife of an alcoholic husband to unconsciously enable the alcoholic.
  • Abuse:  As the wife of an alcoholic husband, you may be subjected to all types of alcoholic abuse such as emotional, verbal, financial, etc.

How to Deal With Your Alcoholic Husband

Living with an alcoholic husband can be traumatic, and you are affected by this from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep. However, if you understand how to deal with your alcoholic husband, life can get better. Below are some helpful tips to assist you in dealing with your alcoholic husband. They include:

  • Remember it’s a Disease: When someone becomes an alcoholic, the choice to drink or not to drink is no longer under their control to some extent. Alcoholism is a disease, but an alcoholic can make the choice to recover. 
  • Don’t Respond With Anger: While it may be instinctive to respond to your alcoholic husband in anger, it’s important to maintain a sense of peace and patience. If it helps, vent to a friend, but don’t target your alcoholic husband. It’s important to remember that you’re angry with the disease.
  • Focus on Yourself: If allowed, your husband’s alcoholism will consume your life. Remember that there’s nothing you can do to change your husband’s alcoholism. He has to make that choice for himself. What you can do is take care of yourself. Form relationships with your children, other people, and family members. Treat yourself once in a while to something you enjoy such as a pedicure, a night out with friends, etc.
  • Have a Discussion the Right Way: When talking to your alcoholic husband about how his alcoholism is affecting you, choose your words carefully. Instead of using the word “you”, use the word “I.” This will not put your alcoholic husband on the defensive. Be firm, but don’t let yourself become angry or accusatory. 
  • Don’t Enable or Prevent any Consequences: Many wives make the mistake of trying to prevent consequences from occurring. This doesn’t solve any problems; it only prevents your alcoholic husband from experiencing the results of his actions. By letting him suffer the consequences of this drinking, it may lead to him seeking help. 
  • Let Your Alcoholic Husband Explain Himself to Others: Don’t lie or cover up for your alcoholic husband. It’s not your job or responsibility to put your husband in a good light. Force him to take responsibility. This could lead to a quicker recovery.
  • Encourage Your Alcoholic Husband to Get Help: There may come a time when your alcoholic husband expresses a desire to get help. Encourage him to do so and give him links to websites or telephone numbers to places that can help him. It’s important to act fast in this situation, because his desire to get help can disappear as fast as it appeared. 

What to Do When Living With an Alcoholic Husband

There are specific steps you should take if you and your children are living with your alcoholic husband. They include:

  • Assess the safety of yourself and your family. If he becomes abusive when he’s been drinking, you should get yourself and your children out of harm’s way. This could mean going to a shelter or staying with friends or family members.
  • Don’t let him drive while he’s under the influence of alcohol. This could mean that you pick him up or arrange for him to get a ride home. Allowing your alcoholic husband to drive while intoxicated could cause the death or injury of innocent people in his path.
  • Find support. Locate a support or alcohol counseling group for the spouses of an alcoholic.
  • Talk to your spiritual advisor, such as a priest, rabbi, or other church leader. You can also seek out a family member or close friend. You do not have to go through this alone, and you need emotional support for yourself and your family. 
  • Talk to your alcoholic husband when he’s not drinking. Let him know that you are concerned, and his drinking is causing problems in your family.
  • Schedule an intervention in an attempt to get him into an inpatient treatment program. Do this if he won’t admit he has a problem with alcohol, or his addiction has gone so far that it’s out of his control.
  • Attend counseling. If your alcoholic husband does go into a recovery program, as he becomes sober it’s important that you and your husband attend couples counseling.

What Not to Do If You Have an Alcoholic Husband

Just as there are steps you can take if you live with an alcoholic husband, there are steps you shouldn’t take as well. They include:

  • Do not take away his alcohol. He will just go get more. You would rather have him drinking at home than not know where he is at.
  • Don’t fight when he’s drinking. This can only have a bad ending, and may jeopardize you and your children’s safety.
  • Do not drink with him. This only sends the message that you are accepting of his drinking or encouraging him to drink more.
  • Don’t speak badly about your alcoholic husband in front of your children. Explain to them that he has a disease and you are trying to get him help.
  • Don’t give up on your alcoholic husband. He can get sober, but it has to be his decision. It may be terrifying for him to realize he could lose everything, but knowing you support him could work as an incentive for him to get sober.

Your Options Living With an Alcoholic Husband

As the wife of an alcoholic, you have four clear options when it comes to living with your alcoholic husband. They are:

1. Do Nothing: As terrible as this sounds, it’s a decision many wives make because it’s difficult to separate the man you married from the man he’s become.

2. Confront Them: This could be in the form of a controlled intervention, or a conversation between you and your alcoholic husband. Without having a confrontation, it would be unfair to expect him to change.

3. Do Not Enable: This means that you refuse to take care of your alcoholic husband if he has a hangover or make excuses for how he behaves. Don’t make it easy for him. 

4. Find Support for Yourself: Seek help from groups like Al-anon, or another group that specializes in supporting people who are struggling because of alcoholism. 

Know When It’s Time to Leave Your Alcoholic Husband

As the wife of an alcoholic husband, you have to know when the costs to you and your family outweigh the benefits. It’s time to leave your alcoholic husband if:

  • Your alcoholic husband refuses to get treatment or help.
  • Your alcoholic husband becomes abusive both emotionally or physically.
  • Your health, physically or mentally, is suffering.
  • Your alcoholic husband has incurred financial and/or legal burdens you can’t handle.
  • You and your husband’s relationship is broken beyond repair.

Living with a husband who has an addiction to alcohol is never easy. It can have far reaching effects for the entire family. Whatever options you choose to work through it, be sure to seek professional help and a good support system to help and advise you and your family through the tough road ahead.