My Partner is an Alcoholic — What Does That Mean for Me?
Sharing a home and a life with an alcoholic spouse means dealing with significant instability regularly. Many of those in this situation say that constant instability is the only predictable part of their daily lives. If your partner is an alcoholic, you undoubtedly already know the pain and frustration involved in never knowing what to expect from one day to the next. You may be struggling to find effective coping mechanisms.
Fortunately, there are strategies designed to help you cope in healthy ways. If you’re dealing with the difficulties of living with an alcoholic, keep reading for inspiration and information on how to navigate the unique challenges of this situation.
Let Go of the Guilt
Those in your position often blame themselves for their partner’s drinking. The blame is sometimes exacerbated by the fact that alcoholics are often master manipulators who know precisely how to push the guilt buttons of their intimate partners. Don’t buy into it — you’re not the reason for your partner’s addiction.
Like others who live with alcoholics, you may tell yourself that your partner would stop drinking if he or she loved you. However, addiction is extremely complex, and your partner may love you very much yet be under the total control of alcohol dependency. Also, alcoholism has a variety of root causes, and it’s highly likely that your partner’s addiction was part of the picture before you ever came along. Keep in mind that alcoholism is a progressive disease that often masks itself as casual social drinking for years before its characteristic downward spiral begins in earnest.
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Don’t Try to Control Your Partner’s Drinking
As tempting as it probably is to try to limit or otherwise control your partner’s alcohol intake, this is a losing game that only leads to increased emotional pain and frustration. It establishes you as an authoritarian figure for your partner and leads to evasion, dishonesty, and constant cat-and-mouse dynamic with the potential to erode even the most solid relationship.
However, when it comes to issues of personal safety, you should definitely exercise control. For instance, taking the car keys away from an intoxicated person who is intent on driving is the only right thing to do. Removing your children from the home if your partner becomes violent is another non-negotiable course of action.
It’s also essential to resist the urge to make ultimatums until and unless you’re prepared to lose the relationship entirely. Those who are in the throes of addiction generally aren’t capable of making rational decisions. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t establish solid personal boundaries and practice self-care — doing both of these things is essential to your well-being.
Don’t Cover Up for Your Spouse or Make Excuses
Covering up for your spouse or making excuses is a particularly insidious form of enabling because it makes you complicit in the lies and duplicity that almost always accompany addiction. For instance, many alcoholic spouses depend on their partners to tell their places of work that they’ve got the flu when they’re too sick with a hangover to go to work. Some spouses also cover up the extent of their partner’s drinking to friends and family members. Although you don’t have to broadcast your partner’s addiction issues to others blatantly, you also shouldn’t be expected to practice deception on your partner’s behalf.
However, the most important person to be honest with is yourself. If your partner is an alcoholic, you may have developed the habit of pretending to yourself that everything is normal. Although this is an understandable escape mechanism, it eventually backfires. Deep down, anyone with an alcoholic spouse realizes the truth.
Practicing self-care means different things to different people. Those in your situation often find themselves giving up activities and even people that are important to them because of the complexities of living with an alcoholic partner. Staying centered is essential. So, don’t abandon those visits with a cherished friend, walks in the park by yourself, or luxurious bubble baths at the end of the day.
If Your Partner is an Alcoholic, Get Professional Support
The right kind of professional support is imperative when you’re navigating the complicated landscape of dealing with an alcoholic partner.
Support groups consisting of others in your situation are excellent resources, and individual counseling can also help develop healthy coping skills. Keep in mind that your wants and needs are necessary and that getting through this period may be one of the most challenging things you’ll have to do in your life.
Desert Cove Recovery can provide you with the tools to develop the courage and strength necessary to support your partner in a positive way that doesn’t drain your emotional reserves. Contact us today!