Alcoholism causes many problems in people's lives, including issues with family, employers, and law enforcement. One of the relationships that tends to suffer the most in the life of an alcoholic is their marriage. Many marriages have been put to the test because one or both of the spouses was addicted to alcohol. With the divorce rates in our country as high as they are, couples must not let something like alcoholism find its way into their marriage, further putting it in danger of failure.
The Enabling Spouse
Alcohol puts a strain on any relationship, but it is especially difficult for spouses to live a fulfilling, happy life together when alcoholism is involved. Many individuals feel trapped when living with an alcoholic because they feel a responsibility to make excuses for their spouse's behavior. A spouse who enables an alcoholic by assuming all of the household responsibilities or getting them out of uncomfortable situations further adds to the dysfunction caused by alcoholism. If children are present, the sober parent will need to spend an extra amount of time and energy protecting their kids from abuse, neglect, or disappointment at the hand of a drunken parent. Many marriages either end unhappily or carry on miserably because of alcoholism.
Failed marriages and alcoholism often go hand-in-hand. While in many cases it is the alcoholism that puts enough of a strain on the relationship to cause it to fall apart, sometimes it is the other way around. Sometimes spouses turn to alcohol when their marriage is on the rocks, as a way to numb the pain and disappointment. No matter which comes first, the alcoholism or the failed marriage, drinking is not the way to handle problems in life.
Getting on with Life
A spouse who is living with an alcoholic may feel that they have very few options, but this is not the case. An individual can enlist help to get their loved one into treatment, and can give them an ultimatum if they resist. An individual can get help for themselves at groups like Al-Anon that will teach them how to live with an alcoholic without enabling or feeling belittled. An individual who ultimately wants to leave the marriage because of their alcoholic spouse should definitely seek counseling as they leave, so that they can best get on with their lives.