Addiction is a serious and often terrifying disease that takes over the entire life of an addict. There is no such thing as a "typical addict" and even people who have been married for quite some time may find that their partner has begun to spiral into alcoholism.
It can be very emotionally draining for the loved one of an addict to attempt to process and make sense of the many feelings that come with being married to an alcoholic. One of the most difficult things in dealing with a spouse who is an alcoholic is knowing exactly how to talk to them about it.
Here are a few tips for how to talk to your alcoholic spouse.
Be Willing to Experience Some Discomfort
Confronting anyone about their addictive behavior is no easy feat, and talking to a spouse who is addicted to alcohol can be even more challenging because of the fact that there are so many feelings involved. You and your partner have a long history together, and the reality is that emotions are going to run deep.
Acknowledge that some discomfort will be inevitable, as you are going to have to say things to your spouse that they do not want to hear. Do not let the prospect of discomfort deter you from making your feelings about their addiction known.
2. Wait Until They Are Sober to Speak With Them
This can be difficult for a number of reasons. If your partner is drinking most of the time, their moments of sobriety may be few and far between. You may not want to spend the time that they are not drinking engaged in serious conversation.
They may also be very hungover or in a bad mood when they have not been drinking. It is still important to wait until your partner is sober before speaking with them because if they are drunk, they are much more likely to be irrational and angry.
They will also very likely not remember speaking with you at all.
3. Use Compassion
Remember that alcoholism is a disease and that your partner is experiencing many of the same fears and frustrations that you are. A person who is suffering from alcoholism is subject to feelings of helplessness, guilt, anger and shame, and without treatment, it may be very difficult and even impossible for your partner to stop using.
When you speak with them, bear in mind that this is difficult for both of you.
4. Avoid Blaming Your Spouse
It is very common for the partners of alcoholics to feel anger and sadness because of their spouse's behavior. When a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they often behave in ways that they never would sober, and may become mean and insulting.
Know that you are justified in feeling upset by this kind of behavior, but try to keep the conversation focused on how this makes you feel, rather than attacking your spouse or blaming them for their drinking problem.
5. Keep the Conversation Positive
As emotions run high, it is easy for the conversation to escalate to a place where one party threatens breaking up or separating. Rather than allowing this to happen, keep the conversation centered on your belief that your spouse needs and deserves help.
Offer to do whatever it takes to get them into a recovery program and reiterate that you believe in them and know that when they get help, they will be able to find sobriety. Tell them how much you look forward to a sober life with them and stress that you are here to support them.