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- Separation & Divorce
When your partner is an alcoholic - stay or leave?
Deborah, this is a question only the one who is living with that alcoholic person can answer. Many people would choose to walk away I guess. For once you have to consider how long you have been with that person and if the person has ever gotten treatment or ever tried to stop it.
Is that person aware of his alcohol abuse - sometimes they don't see it. Is that person abusive and aggressive whenever he/she is under influence? How does it affect the children since you are concerned with this issue? Let's say it is one parent of that child, the child for sure has a bond with that parent despite the fact of the alcohol problem.
So, loosing that parent is not an ideal situation either. Sometimes, especially when the children are older - they wished they could help that parent to get better but are simply too young for such a task. If you leave this parent the children might wonder how the alcoholic parent is doing and even though they don't like the situation when he/she is drunk - they still care and worry if this made the situation worse etc....
Children think farther and deeper than you might think. Now, if the other parent leaves even though he/she loves the drinking partner/parent, there will be a lot of heart ache and you will still worry and care deep inside. This might even go that far that you might place that person back into your life, because you feel still love, maybe also caught in a guilt feeling.
It is said that children who grow up in an environment with an alcoholic parent, become alcoholics themselves. I believe this might be true if it is being ignored, but if you address and fight it as a family - I think it rather teaches a child and makes it aware of how bad and how destructive it actually is.
In addition choosing to stay, while being open with the children might teach your children something else. It teaches them not to walk away in a relationship just because it gets rocky. While I would not expect from the children to be a direct support in the battle - they see that first of all you still accept the drinking partner and still love him/her - but you also make clear that it is not acceptable to you. You also show that you stand behind your commitment you once made and willing to walk the less pleasant road.
I would not suggest to walk away from an alcoholic partner, before first trying to get him to address the problem with therapy. And be realistic - don't ask for miracles. It might take baby-steps....it could be a long and winding road, but as long as you see it is going in the right direction and you see the effort the troubled partner makes I think it is wiser to stay.
The situation might look very different if the person is violent and does not seem to be willing to work with you, does not want to face the truth and deal with it. This would be a reason to leave and get the children out of the dangerous environment.
So, to summarize it, each situation is different, but I don't think it is the right decision to just leave before seeking help and cooperation of the partner with the alcohol problem. Addressing the problem should always be the very first step, especially in a family with children. If the children are old enough - discuss the situation and what your plans are. Get their insight as well, about how they feel about it and keep the communication open. Eventually you might want to get them involved with a therapist as well.