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Help for Partners of Alcoholics: How to Cope With an Alcoholic Partner or Spouse

Updated on October 3, 2017

Introduction

Ama Yeboah is in a relationship with Kofi Adu. They enjoyed a wonderful relationship until Kofi started drinking. “I love Kofi and so I don’t want to breakup with him. However, his habit is putting a serious strain on our relationship and I don’t know for how long I can take it. I wonder if there is any help for partners of alcoholics or tips that can help somebody like me to cope with their alcoholic partner?” she asks.

Coping with an alcoholic partner or spouse can be a terrible ordeal. Living with a functioning alcoholic husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend who irritates you frequently or embarrasses you often can stretch you emotionally and mentally and so you need to learn the strategies that can help you to survive in such a relationship.

If you still love your alcoholic partner or spouse and you don’t want to breakup with him or her, I want to give you tips for partners or spouses of alcoholics so that you can ride the storm and maintain your relationship.

Let us look at the strategies you can use to cope with the situation.

Accept That There May Be Surprises

Being in a relationship with an alcoholic can cause frequent disruptions to your life. Additionally, your partner may get into trouble which may unsettle you emotionally and psychologically. Always anticipating the worst or wondering what will happen next can put you in a state of constant agitation and frustration.

So, come to terms with the reality. Accept that it will be difficult to hazard a guess as to what may happen in your relationship tomorrow, next week, or in a month’s time. Doing this will give you peace of mind and also help you to relax so that you can keep healthy.

Choose to Keep On Living

Decide that you will not let your partner take up all of your time. Resolve to continue living a fulfilling life. So, make time to enjoy yourself alone.

Additionally, choose to make the best out of the rest of your life. Remind yourself often of the dreams and visions you had for your life when you were a teenager and take practical steps to fulfill them.

Taking such an action will motivate you to desire to live a happy life, instead of brooding about the habit of your partner and his or her negative behavior patterns.

Look at the Positive Side of the Whole Situation

Remind yourself every day that the habit of your husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend will give you an opportunity to exhibit true and genuine love to your partner. Additionally, remind yourself that the situation will help you to grow as a lover because it will help you to build your endurance, teach you to be patient, understanding, forgiving, caring and loving, which will all go a long way to improve your character.

When you think this way, it will keep you upbeat which will prevent you from getting depressed. Furthermore, it will make you feel positive about your situation which will increase the chances that you will treat your spouse with respect and, as a result, prevent frequent fights.

Deal With Your Anger and Guilt

You may harbor anger and bitterness in your heart and, in addition, blame your partner for creating discord in the relationship because of his or her habit, especially when your partner does not cooperate with you when you suggest to him or her to go for professional help.

Additionally, you may feel guilty because you get angry with your partner sometimes—you may condemn yourself sometimes and think that your partner is drinking because of something you did to him or her, or because of something you said.

Disabuse your mind of all such patterns of thought. Accept your faults but recognize the fact that your partner is ultimately responsible for his or her behavior.

So, think to yourself in such a manner, “I will not blame myself that Isaac drinks. Yes, I make mistakes sometimes which make him angry and which makes him stalk off to the bar. But he has choices. He could choose not to drink. If he drinks, it is because he wants to, and not because of what I say or do.” This will help you to lessen the burden of anger and guilt and consequently you will relate to your partner better.

Maintain a Proper View of Your Partner

Remind yourself often of your love for your partner. Keep it uppermost in your mind. This will help you to keep your anger in check when your lover annoys you or irritates.

When you are able to control your anger, you will act in ways that will not make your partner feel that you are threatening him or her. It will help you to honor and respect your partner

Consequently, you will be able to maintain the rapport in the relationship. This may influence your partner to reconsider the way he or she is treating you—he or she may stand back and see what they are doing to the relationship, and that may influence him or her to rethink their habit.

Be Firm When Necessary

Your spouse may get into trouble sometimes or he or she may get into financial difficulties because of their habit. So, you need to let your partner know that there are limits to the kind of help you will give to him or her. For example, lovingly, let your partner know that if he squanders his or her money on drinking, you will not give him or her any loans when they get into debt.

Be open and direct when you have this discussion with your partner. Avoid being rude. Discuss the issue thoroughly and come to a mutual agreement so that he or she will know the consequences of choosing to continue with the behavior. This can help to prevent subsequent disagreements and, consequently, major fights.

Create a Loving Home

When you nag frequently, confront your spouse regularly, delight in finding fault with him or her, or choose to ignore him or her because of their habit, you will strain the relationship bond and make your partner or spouse feel miserable whenever they are at home. Consequently, they will seek happiness outside, which may cause them to drink even more.

However, when you choose to spend time with your partner, when you continue to express affection for your partner, and continue to tell him or her that you love them, your spouse is more likely to desire to change when you advise them to give up the habit or to seek professional help.

Try to Be Patient

A person who drinks can be annoying at times. He or she may wake you up from your sleep when he or she comes home late after drinking. Or, he or she may pick quarrels with you over trivial matters that do not need to escalate into fights. Therefore, you will need to exercise a lot of patience and also stretch your patience to the limits.

Doing this will help you to maintain the peace, harmony, and communication in the relationship which can increase the chances that you can influence your partner to change his or her behavior.

Control Your Pride

Some partners tend to start behaving arrogantly towards their alcoholic partners when their partner’s habit embarrasses them. This can cause friction in the relationship which can weaken the relationship.

So, resolve to act with humility towards your partner. When you see that your ego is getting the better part of you, control it so that you can continue treating your partner with respect.

Focus on Your Partner's Good Qualities

Maintain your focus on your partner’s positive characteristics. Regularly, remind yourself of the positive things your partner has done for you in the past.

Sit down one Saturday evening and write down 50 good things your partner has done for you. This exercise will help you to treat him or her with grace which will help to sustain the bond of love between the two of you.

Have Joy

Joy is an attitude that makes you have peace of mind even when circumstances around you are very challenging and negative. It comes from deep down in the heart. It is based on the assurance that God’s love for you is still strong inspite of your negative circumstances. It makes you remember that God is with you and will help you no matter what you are going through.

When you have an attitude of joy, it will help you to feel calm and relaxed. Consequently, that will help you to look forward to the rise of the sun every morning or the break of dawn because you will see every day as a gift from God which should be anticipated and enjoyed.

How can you develop this attitude of joy?

  • Learn to become devoted to Jesus. Look for opportunities to serve Him. Go on Evangelism trips for Him. Go and see your pastor and volunteer to help church work. Doing these things will help you to keep your mind occupied and that will help you to forget about your partner and his drinking problem for a while.
  • Don’t worry about the situation. When you are tempted to worry about your partner’s habit, think about the happy times you have enjoyed in your relationship. Think about your friends and relatives who are in happy relationships. Be happy for them. Think about the car you are about to buy or about the promotion at work that you have been informed about.
  • Sing soul-uplifting songs to yourself when you feel discouraged and sad because of your partner’s habit. It will help to strengthen your inner man which will help to lift your spirits.

Use Facebook

  • Join Facebook groups that have been set up to encourage and support people who are living with alcoholic partners. Read the stories of some of the lovers who are also trying to cope with a partner who is an alcoholic. It will remind you that other couples are also going through the same struggles you are going through. Additionally, you will learn how they are dealing with their situations effectively, and how they are still surviving and finding some order and peace in life. Consequently, you will be strengthened and that will give you the vim you need to persevere in your relationship.
  • Share your experiences, frustrations, challenges, and worries about your situation with the other members of the groups you join. Then, find out how they handle those same issues in their relationships. You will learn a few strategies which you can use to cope with your alcoholic partner.
  • Alternatively, start a Facebook group for people who are in relationships with alcoholics. You may call the group “Help for Partners of Alcoholics” so that you can attract lovers who are looking for advice to help their partners. Encourage them to share their challenges, fears, worries, hopes, and experiences as you share yours. Schedule “Facebook People Living With Alcoholics Therapy Meetings” for Friday or Saturday evenings so that you can all come online at the same time to vent your anger and frustrations. Furthermore, you will generate fellow-feelings as you motivate each other. Additionally, as you express candid opinions, you will heal psychologically and emotionally. Moreover, be there for each other so that you can have brainstorming sessions to produce original, credible ideas to help you cope with your alcoholic partner as well as generate ideas which you can use to influence your partner to change his behavior or to seek professional help.

Join Al-Anon

One organization that has help for partners of alcoholics is Al-Anon.

Al-Anon is a group that helps friends and relatives of alcoholics so that they can influence their partners positively. They will encourage you and give you tips as to how to live with your partner. Furthermore, they will give you resources which will help you to interact with your partner in ways that will influence him or her to change.

So, visit their website and contact them so that you will know where to go for Al-Anon meetings in your locality.

Pray for Your Partner

At times, you will feel like giving up and quitting the relationship. However, if you pray regularly, preferably every day, God will give you the strength you need to endure the situation. Furthermore, your prayers can help God to change your partner so that he or she will stop drinking.

So, pray a prayer such as, “Dear God, Heavenly Father, thank you for giving Isaac to me. We have shared some wonderful moments in this relationship before. That was before Isaac started drinking. Father, our relationship has deteriorated since he started this habit. Please touch his heart so that he can see what he is doing to himself and to me. Please give me the strength I need to survive this ordeal so that I will not give up. I recognize that this is my cross and I can only bear it if You give me the strength I need. I also pray for help for partners of alcoholics all over the world. Father, give them Your grace and be merciful to them so that they can endure their situation, overcome the challenge, and strengthen their relationships. Amen.”

Conclusion

Do your best to dwell on the positives of the situation, try not to worry too much, and shake off any discouragement about the situation. Furthermore, assert your independence so that you can have time for yourself. Doing these things will help you to guard your spirit well so that you can continue to live a healthy life.

Every day, remind yourself that though you cannot control your partner’s alcoholism, you can keep it from becoming the most important thing in your life. That will help you to enjoy life.

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© 2017 Isaac Yaw Asiedu Nunoofio

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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 months ago

      Good advice and one that brings hope to those who live with an alcoholic. I would say prayer lays a good foundation for change.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 months ago from Philippines

      I can't imagine how hard it must be to have an alcoholic husband. This is a good article, especially the part about prayer and your conclusion. As long as the husband is not violent or abusive when drunk, maybe a wife can help him out of his habit. But it might take a very long time.