Alcoholism and Divorce

Alcoholism and Divorce

How sad it is to witness the crumbling of a marriage due to a partner’s alcoholism. The effects of alcohol abuse on a marriage can be profound, and many marriages ultimately end in divorce. Alcoholism and divorce are often linked, but that doesn’t have to be the fate of your marriage. It is possible to save the marriage if the alcoholic spouse is willing to get the help they need.

Signs of Alcoholism

If you are married to an alcoholic, you may not recognize the symptoms at first. Some alcoholics are called functional alcoholics, meaning they are able to continue functioning despite the disease.

However, in most cases the spouse’s condition worsens over time. If you recognize the common signs of alcoholism in your spouse, it is time for them to seek treatment. These signs include:

  • The spouse spends a great deal of time intoxicated or recovering from the effects of the alcohol abuse.
  • The spouse neglects their responsibilities at home and at work, as functioning becomes impaired.
  • The spouse lies about how much he or she drinks.
  • The spouse becomes withdrawn and avoids social events.
  • The spouse has memory blackouts.
  • The spouse has lost interest in activities he or she once enjoyed.
  • The spouse engages in risky behaviors while intoxicated.
  • The spouse cannot control their drinking.
  • The spouse continues to drink, despite the harm it is doing to the marriage.
  • The spouse exhibits withdrawal symptoms.

Alcoholism Can Impact Your Marriage

There is a reason why alcoholism and divorce are often connected. Many marriages simply cannot withstand the adverse impact of alcoholism and therefore end in divorce.

There are several ways alcoholism can harm the marriage and the nonalcoholic spouse and lead to divorce. These include:

Causes instability in the marriage. When one or both partners struggle with alcohol use disorder it causes the marriage itself to become highly unstable. The daily stress that the disease of alcoholism causes strife, confusion, and loss of trust for all family members.

Dysfunction. When a husband or wife is alcoholic it can cause the other spouse to begin using maladaptive coping techniques. These unhealthy behaviors include codependency and enabling, and only make the situation worse.

Financial troubles. The alcoholic spouse may lose their job, which can result in major financial problems. There might also be legal bills or judgments that are directly related to the spouse’s drinking.

Domestic abuse. The alcoholic spouse may become abusive, either verbally or physically. Domestic abuse is a common problem when alcoholism is present in the marriage.

Receive Guidance, Call Now

Mental health. The nonalcoholic spouse may begin to isolate from friends and family, or begin to battle depression. Due to shame or embarrassment, they avoid putting themselves in social situations where the spouse’s alcoholism is evident.

What to Do If You’re Married to an Alcoholic

If your partner is alcoholic, you are likely to be dealing with a lot of upheaval and strife. It may be difficult to talk to your spouse about their problem drinking, which makes you feel even more helpless.

Here are some action items to consider if you are married to someone with alcohol use disorder:

  1. Encourage the spouse to seek treatment. Find a quiet moment when your spouse is not intoxicated to suggest he or she enroll in a treatment program. Calmly validate the struggle they are having with alcohol while also conveying how it is impacting you.
  2. Suggest family counseling. If the spouse isn’t ready to go to rehab, ask if he or she will attend family counseling. The therapist may be able to convince the spouse that they need treatment in order to save the marriage.
  3. Stay connected to your friends and family. You may be tempted to withdraw socially, but make an effort to stay connected to close friends. A close friend or family member provides the outlet you need to express your emotions.
  4. See a therapist. Therapy is another option to consider, as a skilled therapist can offer guidance and support during this difficult time.
  5. Get regular exercise. Push through the temptation to stop taking care of yourself and make sure you get regular exercise. Exercise can be a daily walk, a gym workout, a run, or bike ride, anything that gets your blood pumping.
  6. Practice self-care. Do not neglect your mental health. During trying times it is always best to practice some self-care actions. These might include getting a massage, practicing meditation or taking yoga classes.
  7. Join a support group. There are several groups available to offer support to spouses or family members of an alcoholic. Seek out a local Alanon group, SMART Recovery for Family and Friends, or Codependents Anonymous.

Getting Help for an Alcoholic Spouse

There is a strong correlation between alcoholism and divorce, especially when just one partner is alcoholic. To avert your marriage ending in divorce, it is essential that he or she receive treatment for the alcohol use disorder.

During treatment, the alcoholic spouse will engage in these activities:

  • Alcohol withdrawal. Detox and withdrawal management is the first step in recovery. This process will be closely monitored and medications will be provided to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy. Your husband or wife will engage in multiple types of therapy that are designed to bring about behavioral changes. Therapy includes one-on-one sessions, group sessions, and couples therapy.
  • Education. The spouse will acquire new coping techniques to help them avoid a relapse.
  • 12-Step. Alcoholic’s Anonymous 12-Step program is integrated into the rehab program.

Holistic and recreational. To balance the treatment program, the spouse will engage in holistic therapies, like meditation, yoga, acupuncture or massage. They will also enjoy workouts and outdoor activities like golf while in rehab.

Sadly, alcoholism and divorce are often linked when the alcoholic spouse is not seeking treatment for the alcohol use disorder. It isn’t too late to get the help you need to salvage the marriage. Reach out for support today!

Capo by the Sea Luxury Residential Treatment for Alcoholism

Capo by the Sea specializes in couples rehab programming for one or both spouses battling alcoholism. Our highly effective Marriage Retreat and our Support for Spouse/Family Program save marriages. Please reach out today at (888) 529-2114.