If your husband’s drinking is affecting your marriage, you’re not alone. Addiction is often known as a “family disease” because of its pervasive effects on family members and its impact on marriages.
While this situation can sometimes seem hopeless, there is a way out. Alcohol addiction treatment can support anyone in lasting recovery and pave the way for holistic healing between couples and also their loved ones.
This blog explores some ways you can support your husband to receive treatment while remembering to care for yourself.
How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect Relationships and Marriages?
Research has found that drug and alcohol abuse puts couples at increased risk of relationship problems, including relationship dissatisfaction, instability, and verbal or physical aggression.
Several possible reasons may explain the destructive effects of excessive alcohol consumption on marriages and family life. Alcohol abuse may:
- cause the partner with the drinking problem to neglect many of their home responsibilities
- lead the partner to act in a way that they did not when the partnership began
- cause the partner who drinks to lie or act secretively to hide their drinking habits, damaging open and honest communication
- lead to financial difficulties that may increase tension and stress
Breaking a Destructive Cycle
Sometimes, couples can find themselves in a destructive cycle of growing relationship problems and worsening alcohol abuse. Relationship issues caused by excessive drinking lead to increased feelings of stress and emotional turmoil, causing the drinking partner to consume more alcohol in an attempt to cope. However, engaging in further alcohol abuse only exacerbates relationship conflicts, precipitating the destructive cycle.
Addiction treatment, couples therapy, and other treatment programs aim to break the destructive cycle, replacing it with a positive journey of recovery, decreased stress, and more supportive relationships. As healing for both partners begins, couples can reclaim a sober lifestyle founded on trust, open communication, and understanding.
What Happens When Both Partners Drink?
Research suggests that couples in which the husband is the only person who drinks may experience higher rates of instability than couples where both partners drink. However, the latter situation can still be detrimental to family life.
The effects of growing up in a home with alcohol abuse can affect the emotional development of a child, making it more likely that they will develop mental health problems (including alcohol use disorders) later on in life and affecting the way they attach and form relationships.
My Husband’s Drinking Is Ruining Our Marriage – What Can I Do?
If your husband’s drinking problem is affecting your marriage, it can be hard to know how to act. You may be experiencing a huge range of emotions, including frustration, worry, and hopelessness.
Most people with an alcohol use disorder cannot stop drinking by themselves. Individuals usually require long-term alcohol use disorder treatment, dedication, and ongoing support to change their drinking habits for good and enjoy a life of sobriety.
Because of this, the best thing you can do to stop your partner’s drinking is to encourage them to seek treatment. You can also think about your own drinking habits and the way that you interact with their habit. Most importantly, remember to look after yourself and to know your limits.
Having an Open Conversation
One way to support your husband to seek treatment is by having an open conversation. Listen to what your husband has to say, empathize with his feelings, and let him know that you come from a place of care.
During the conversation, you can explain your concerns for your husband’s welfare and let him know how alcohol is damaging you and your relationship. You could talk about some of your negative experiences related to his alcohol misuse and how they have made you feel. Remember to avoid being judgmental.
Sometimes it can help to research different treatment options or offer to support your partner in this process. You may also want to offer to accompany him to appointments to alleviate some of the stresses associated with seeking help.
If your husband still does not recognize the importance of quitting drinking or accessing support, you could think about staging an intervention. During an intervention, a team of family, friends, and others meet together to persuade their loved one to get professional help. Professional interventionists can help to support the intervention process and increase its chances of success.
Avoiding Enabling Behaviors
While it’s normal to want to care for your husband, it’s important to avoid enabling his drinking problem. Enabling behaviors are actions that make it easier for an individual to maintain their drinking habits, preventing them from seeking treatment. While enabling behaviors may fulfill your husband’s short-term needs, they can be detrimental to his long-term well-being. He will not stop drinking if it is made easy for him to continue.
Some examples of enabling behaviors include:
- buying alcohol for your partner
- offering financial support
- making excuses for their behavior
- covering for them to explain missed days from work
Sometimes, sustained patterns of enabling behavior can lead to codependent relationships, where one partner neglects their own needs in an attempt to fill the needs of the other. If you think you may be experiencing co-dependency, individual or couples therapy can offer professional advice and support.
Looking After Yourself
Living with the effects of your husband’s alcohol intake can be exhausting and may take a toll on your own well-being. Remember that you have needs too and to look after yourself as well as your husband.
Practicing good self-care is one way to reduce stress and maintain good mental health. Self-care practices include:
- eating healthy, balanced meals
- taking regular exercise
- sleeping well
- spending time with friends
It’s not unusual for spouses to experience their own mental health issues in this situation. Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional support, such as counseling or couples therapy. You may also want to attend support groups such as Al-Anon, specifically designed for families affected by alcohol addiction. Support groups are free, self-organized meetings with others who share your experiences, providing mutual advice, support, and comfort.
Finally, it’s important to know your limits. However much you care for your husband, if their behavior continues to affect your well-being or they refuse to seek treatment, it may be time to think carefully about the future.
In particular, there is never a reason you should have to tolerate physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. If you are experiencing domestic violence, seek help as soon as possible.
How Can Couples Therapy Help?
Couples therapy is an addiction recovery approach that emphasizes the role of intimate relationships in overcoming addiction while helping couples to heal and build stable relationships.
In general, couples therapy aims to:
- end substance abuse
- help the partner be supportive in the addiction recovery process
- develop behavioral patterns and skills that support long-term sobriety
Couples therapy is an evidence-based treatment method proven to both reduce substance use and improve relationship satisfaction. It can constitute a fundamental part of an addiction recovery program, supporting other treatment options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and holistic approaches to promote healing for the entire family.
Crossroads Antigua – Addiction Recovery in Sublime Settings
Crossroads Antigua is a substance abuse and addiction recovery center situated on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua. Our unequaled recovery experience takes clients away from the stresses and distractions of their daily life so they can focus on healing, introspection, and personal growth. The center’s serene environment of unprecedented beauty is a constant source of inspiration, offering an oasis of love, peace, and restoration.
At Crossroads Antigua, we believe that long-term abstinence from substance abuse requires a change in lifestyle. Our comprehensive range of evidence-based treatment modalities treats the entire person, supporting clients to identify and address the root causes of their addiction to promote meaningful change. We combine therapies with mindfulness, fitness, and nutrition, delivered near the sea, under palm trees, and surrounded by fresh air.
If your loved one is living with an alcohol use disorder or another substance addiction, contact us today to begin the healing process.