Marriage Counseling: Living With An Alcoholic Husband

/, Alcoholism, conflict resolution in relationships, Family, marriage/Marriage Counseling: Living With An Alcoholic Husband


All the signs are there. You’ve been in denial for months, maybe years now, and now you have to face the fact. You’re living with an alcoholic husband. What does this mean? Should you seek marriage counseling? Confront him? Leave him? There are so many questions and so much uncertainty associated with alcoholism we sometimes just don’t know where to begin.

There’s no easy answer when you’re dealing with any kind of an addiction and all the other issues that come along with being in a relationship with an alcoholic. You spend a lot of time with stress and worry. You might feel embarrassed to be at public functions when he’s drinking, and fear for his safety when he’s away from you. You could be feeling frustrated and see this as a sign of weakness on his part which might make you lose respect for him. What you should remember is that alcoholism is a family disease and everyone in the family is affected by it. For you, self- care and self- awareness is crucial. You have to realize that this is not your fault, nor is it your responsibility to fix it. Your husband has to be the one who chooses to stop drinking. Often that takes hitting rock bottom with his addiction.

Because you love him, you might have been unknowingly enabling his drinking in order to protect him from harm or consequences in his job, friendships or other areas of his life. Realizing that you might be helping enable him to drink safely without consequences i.e. making excuses, covering up or making it easy for him to continue in addiction means that you might have to set boundaries and limits on yourself as to how much of that will continue if you want him to stop. Don’t be afraid to let him know how this is affecting you. There are some things that you can do to help (not enable) him and your family to cope in the midst of this situation.

What to Do:

  • Assess your own safety and that of your family – is he abusive or violent when he’s drinking? If you need to get assistance and go to a shelter or stay with a friend or family member if you or your children are in danger.
  • Pick him up so he won’t drive under the influence
  • Look into support groups or alcohol counseling programs for spouses of alcoholics( al-anon), and 12 step programs such as AA
  • Talk to your spiritual advisor or a family member /parent and confide in a close friend, you need to know you are not fighting this battle alone and have emotional support yourself.
  • Speak to your husband when he’s not drinking and let him know in a loving way that you are concerned about his drinking and that it’s become a problem in your life. Ask if he’s willing to get help to control the drinking or if he feels like he can stop on his own. Suggest treatment; inpatient, outpatient or Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Schedule an intervention to get him into an inpatient treatment program if he’s not willing to admit his problem or is too far into his addiction that he’s gotten out of control with it.
  • Get Couples Counseling to aid in recovery with your husband as he gets sober


What Not to Do:

  • Take away or pour out alcohol. He’ll just get more. You’d rather have him drinking at home than not know where he is.
  • Fight when he’s drinking or escalate arguments when he’s under the influence. This can only end badly.
  • Drink with him. Send a clear message that his behavior is a problem for you and you are not going to encourage it or share in it.
  • Bad mouth him to the children. Speak respectfully of him to the kids, let them know that Dad is ill and you’re trying to help him get better. He’s not a bad person, he’s got a sickness.
  • Don’t Give up. He can get sober, but he has to decide to do it for himself. Knowing that he might lose everything due to drinking is terrifying, but knowing you’ll be there supporting him while he recovers is a powerful incentive.

For resources on the couples expert website regarding addiction, alcoholism and helping your alcoholic husband go to: to learn more. Look into Alcoholics Anonymous programs in your area. There are often meetings weekly and bi-weekly at local churches and community centers.

The main thing is to love him. Even when he seems unlovable. Your commitment will be tested in this and you must be clear. Once he gets into recovery from alcohol, then your relationship can also begin to recover. Find a couples counselor to help you start the healing process together and you can begin to restore the love that brought you together before addiction got in the way. There is hope, and there is recovery. Don’t give up. Care for yourself, care for your family, and love him into recovery.

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