Can you really go an entire relationship and not realize someone has a drinking problem? Absolutely. First and foremost, a disclaimer: You are not stupid if you didn’t know that your husband had a problem while you were dating, and you are not stupid if you did know and married him anyway.
Addiction is powerful but so is love. However, these are two opposing forces that will fight to the death; at the end of the day, one or the other has to win. Your goal as a wife who wants to help an alcoholic husband is to make sure that love is the “last man standing.”
Be a Wife First
The first thing you need to do in order to help an alcoholic husband is to stay relationship-minded. When your husband’s addiction rears its head, you may plunge into a lecture or get into a fight. Remember that you’re his wife, not his mother, and that being straight with him should not sound like you ordering him around. Besides, no one stops drinking just because someone tells them to. If it were that easy, rehab centres would be out of business!
Keep Yourself Safe
Although being a wife means supporting your husband no matter what, there are limits. If your husband becomes aggressive or volatile when he’s drunk, do notaccept the behavior or write it off as beyond his control. Physical abuse is never acceptable under any circumstance, and you should physically remove yourself from the house if that is the case.
You can still help an alcoholic husband without living together, especially if living together is more antagonising than comforting to your husband.
Ask Him About His Goals
Instead of just scolding your husband for his frequent drinking, try to understand not only where he’s coming from but where he’s headed. If his future involves a family with you (or being a present father if you already have kids), ask him how his drinking will contribute to that.
If he’s career-driven, talk to him about his ambitions and encourage them. Let him know that you believe he’s more than capable of achieving anything but that his drinking may stop him from reaching his full potential.
It won’t be easy, but you have to try to see your husband as his true self beneath the addiction; the man with dreams, goals and a deep love for you.
Even if he’s reached a point where alcoholism has made him feel hopeless about the future, remember that he still loves you. Remind him how much faith you have in his strength and capabilities.
Seek Outside Support
You need a support system just as much as your husband does. Although you may feel embarrassed or ashamed of his addiction, you need to let others in.
Pick wisely, and only confide in friends and family members who you know will be accepting. If you don’t know anyone, personally, who can be there for you, try an alcoholic family support group like Al-Anon.
These groups will be able to provide you with a community of other wives and family members living with an alcoholic and give you additional tips and advice on how to work through your husband’s addiction alongside him.