Ways Of Coping With An Alcoholic Spouse

I was married to woman who had a drinking problem and pill-popping addiction. There was never a moment when she was awake that she didn’t have one or the other in her system. The person who is mixing narcotics and liqueur together, on a regular basis, experiences intense mood swings.

My ex-spouse had some serious issues with criticizing others even if she wasn’t being influenced by some sort of drug. Her very nature was to be extremely critical of other people. Along with this negative behavior, she also had a temper that was unstoppable. She was a very angry alcoholic at times.

When she was under the influence of some mind altering substance, these negative emotions intensified to the point of extreme emotional, physical and verbal abuse on her part.

I have sure had plenty of training in learning how to cope with an alcoholic spouse. My knowledge on how to gain peace and serenity was gained through hands on experience.

During the intense season of being trained in how to handle outbursts of rage, juggle countless lies and deal with an unfaithful alcoholic spouse, I was attending no less than six support group meetings per week.

The information I’m sharing with you on how to cope with an alcoholic spouse was all learned from real life experiences, through reading many books on coping with alcoholics and by hanging out with people, in support group meetings, who had been dealing with alcoholics for many years.

On many occasions, I was left abandoned by her, plans were broken and promises never fulfilled. I’ve been lied to, cheated on, called every name in the book and physically abused.

I’ve been spit on and had things thrown at me. On one occasion, I was pushed down a small flight of stairs. One night when I couldn’t get into another room and lock the door fast enough, she forced her way in and hit me in the back of the head and kicked me in the back as I knelt in the corner with no way to escape.

I was with her when she decided to go into rehab and I was still there when she relapsed. The night she got arrested, I was the one who got the second phone call and the husband who refused to bail her out.

I know what it is like to be obsessed with an alcoholic. I know what it is like to be lied to repeatedly. I can also help you learn how to cope with an angry alcoholic.

Here are a few proven methods of coping with an alcoholic spouse that work:

  • Understand that you didn’t force them to drink. They have decided to become what they are through their own choices in life. Nothing that you have done caused them to be an alcoholic. Nothing that you do makes them continue to pick up alcohol.
  • There is now way that you can have any effect on whether they drink or not. You cannot stop them or convince them to not drink. Their choice to consume alcohol is beyond your control.
  • You cannot provide a remedy for their illness, there isn’t one. They will only quit when they decide that it is time to get help for themselves. One exception to the rule, sometimes in rare cases an alcoholic will be sentenced to attend AA meetings by a judge. Periodically, people will find sobriety in those meetings and stay clean and sober. In most of these instances, the person was at their bottom and were ready to accept that they had a drinking problem.

Every situation that we encounter with an alcoholic requires different coping skills. In alcoholism support group meetings these skills are referred to as tools.

Here are a few more suggestions to help you cope with an alcoholic spouse:

  1. When they lie-don’t confront the lies.
  2. When they stay out all night-just go to sleep.
  3. When they want to argue-refuse to participate.
  4. When they come home-don’t analyze them to try and figure out if they are drunk or not.
  5. When they ruin your plans-be sure to have a plan B.
  6. When your mind wants you to snoop in their things-don’t do it.
  7. After the alcoholic spouse has left you a nasty phone message-don’t listen to it, delete it instead!
  8. Do something that you enjoy-instead of spending your time obsessing over what they are doing.
  9. If you get really angry with them-exercise, call a friend or attend a support group meeting.
  10. If your spouse gets arrested-consider leaving them in jail to suffer the consequences of their actions.
  11. Stay present in the moment-avoid obsessing on past events or fearing the future.
  12. Do something kind for someone today.
  13. Do something kind for yourself today.
  14. Spend time asking God for help on a daily basis.
  15. When you don’t have any expectations of them-you will never have to deal with a resentment.
  16. Never give an ultimatum unless you are going to follow through with your decision.
  17. Never argue with a drunk.
  18. Avoid having serious conversations with them when they are intoxicated.

I wish there was a magic formula I could share on how to cope with your husband or wife who is the alcoholic. As you can tell from the list above, there are different things that we do in different situations to help us cope with an alcoholic spouse. The main objective of all the ones that I have listed are to help you become more emotionally, physically and spiritually stable.

There’s no way that you can make your loved one quit drinking. You have no control over their choices, but you do have control of yours. When you begin to cope with the situation differently, then things will gradually begin to change in your favor. You can be happy in this dysfunctional marriage. It all starts with you taking responsibility for your own happiness.

For more helpful tips buy our Book On Coping With An Alcoholic Spouse.

Written By: JC

260 comments to Ways Of Coping With An Alcoholic Spouse

  • samantha

    Living with an active alcoholic is devastating. Choosing to remain married to an active alcoholic is an enabling behavior and a trap. Both people in the alcoholic marriage become hostages of the alcohol. Been there, held on for life. Saved my life by doing the opposite, letting go.

  • Anthony

    Hi Samantha,

    well, you have not really addressed the problem and won the battle. You’ve just run away from it. Not really a good advise, whatever the pain….Ask yourself if it was you who was an alcoholic? Think about your husband leaving you……

    There is a solution and it requires therapy, you are not a professional and cannot make any decision. Hope you got help from a spouse support group as sometimes the trauma of leaving (or running away from a problem) is not a real solution and you are left with a trauma or ‘psychological wound’. Believe me, it does not go away without appropriate help and affects your life totally.

    not judging, just helping darling.

    all the best


  • Michelle

    Hi Anthony,
    This is a start for me. This i the first time I’ve ever even Googled dealing with an alcoholic husband and we have been married 10 years. The drinking is at its worst. My husband is highly functional and no one would ever believe he drinks like this. His father is also an alcoholic who gave the advice to start drinking earlier in the day. I am also recovering from his affair which I know would have been a smoother recovery if it weren’t for the alcohol. Its like living with Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. He’s in the home but drunk and we have two small sons. I fear that if I stay with him my children will repeat this same pattern. I want to be here for our children because when sober hes a good father. At this point am I helping them or harming them by teaching them the patterns my husband learned from his father?

  • JC

    Michelle, thanks for commenting. Within this article on coping with an alcoholic spouse you will find several other links to other articles.

    I encourage you to explore the links on our site because there is a wealth of wisdom here that can help you in your situation.

    It’s possible to live with and love an alcoholic for an entire lifetime. The key is to learn how to live one day at a time, learn how to detach, learn how to set boundaries, learn how to enjoy life again, learn how to love unconditionally and much more… This is a process of learning that just takes time.

    This is one of the all time favorite articles: Detaching From An Alcoholic. Consider taking time to read through the comments at the end of the article too.

  • Sandy

    Samantha – I agree with you. I held on for 26 years and finally made the decision to “let go” when I received a phone call confirming what I knew for three years – that he had a girlfriend. He was/is having an emotional affair with a married woman from work and when I learned through concrete evidence about the physical relationship, that was it for me. @Anthony – My ex was unwilling to attend ANY type of therapy as I had begged him for three years to go to marriage counseling and he would laugh in my face and/or refuse. I did not “run away” from the problem – I saved myself and my children. As I said before, we were married for 26 years and I loved him. I still love him and I always will however, I could no longer live with the verbal, emotional, mental and physical abuse. There is so much more to this story but I just needed to be clear that I did not run away from the problem. I let go of the problem. When I lay my head down at night – I know in my heart that I did everything I could to save my marriage. He made the choice to form a relationship with “her” and he made the choice to NOT work on our marriage. I made the choice to move on. I am taking care of me and my minor children now. I am free from the abuse and the life of chaos and drama attached to being married to an alcoholic. My children and I will always be affected by the life we lived for 26 years however, at least it is not 26 years plus 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, etc………

  • Anthony

    Hi all,

    what I say here comes from professional experience; I see clients on a daily basis, most with partners; it is clear that without the appropriate ‘support’, family members will reach the stage where it is easier to ‘get rid of the problem’; what I want to reiterate is that most of my clients get better and the relationship improves a lot after of course the ‘addict’ accepts treatment and is serious and honest with things; I am not saying ‘you are wrong’ but you have to admit that if we are presented with a challenge (and living with an abusive partner is the worst form) we can either get a solution (with the help of a family service) or get rid of the problem and live with guilt and feeling a victim (addiction create all that dishonesty and aggression, when they are clean, most behave totally different) of somebody inability to cope with stress and poor confidence.

    I know how difficult it is ok; left my father years ago and you know what? had to get rid of that sense of ‘poor me, poor me’ which affects other relationships and it really does not go away; I went back to him, improved the relationship and got rid of any resentment, at least I can live a life without those bad memories haunting me all the times and now that I help other, I can gladly tell clients that it is worth trying to rebuild relationships and make amends; I am sure your husbands and wives will one day come back and say ‘sorry’; it will happen….most of the times.

    On the other side, if you are getting ill yourself and the other part does not accept treatment, then you make sure that they understand and accept that you might one day not be there as you ahve tried your best to sort things out; make sure somebody if there to help; family service, outreach/floating; counselors etc;

    And if they are ‘physical’, then, no excuses, you can just leave; that kind of behavior should never be condoned, never.

    If you tried for months to help your loved ones and they just ‘did not’ want to change,and you got the help from other service, then, of course you need to make a drastic decision and leave; you do not want to end up on the other side and be referred to mental health for no fault of yours ending up with depression…..not really.

    I do believe, that some people affected by addiction, really deserve help, whatever the pain, but of course, there is a limit…..your health.

  • Sandy

    @Anthony: I pray for my ex husband, that he gets the help he needs and that he finds happiness in whatever he’s doing. Just to be clear, he showed absolutely no interest in working on himself or our marriage. He was/is verbally, mentally, emotionally and physically abusive. He never hit me but he had pinned my arms behind my back, jacked me up against the car, etc. To me, that’s physical abuse. He is still involved with the “married” woman too. I lived many years of him not wanting to spend time with our children, not wanting to spend time with me, doing things alone, etc. I went to almost every function for our children alone – baseball games, choir concerts, football games, etc. I will say that for many of these things, he was busy working however, when he wasn’t working, he choose not to go to anything.
    I will admit that I still love him but I don’t miss the abuse. It is now to the point where he is distancing himself from his family members, his children, and people at work. Everything my therapist said would happen, is happening. I still think about him but I just can’t imagine ever going back to that life of loneliness, abuse and chaos. I am not “with” anyone right now but I’m also not being abused or made to feel like I am worthless. I am working on me now. I let him beat me down to the point where my self esteem was as low as it could go. I still have issues with my self esteem but like I said, I am working on it. I truly feel that I was headed down a path of depression and that is not me. I have suffered many female problems over the years and the more I read, the more I notice that many illnesses and problems can be partially caused by depression and/or living with abuse. I will continue to pray for him, our children and myself. This is an ugly disease and no one will ever understand unless they have walked in my shoes or down the same path. Thanks for responding.

  • Valerie

    Sandy I am so in your shoes right now , trying to get my husband back but he has made it clear he wants to move on. He has chose the bar and his friends over his family. We would have been married 20 years april of 2013. Reading your post you sound like my twin. The only difference he did physically abuse me and our kids a few times and he was very drunk when he did it. I do miss him every day but until he can realize he has a problem no one can help. At this point he is acting like a 21 year old with no worries, he want nothing to do with the kids – he says he will buy them a drink when they turn 21 they are 13 and 17. What a dad huh? isnt alcohol great!

  • Jane

    My husband is an alcoholic for 20 years (or more). We have been married for 20 years. In the past few years I started drinking when he had those (bad days). It helped me for a while, but I’m worried, that I became an alcoholic myself. I keep my job, and I never have a drink before 5PM. How can I fix my problem?

  • Jane

    P.S.I love my husband very much and there is out of question, that I’m going to leave him. Jane

  • Vickie

    Have lived with alcoholic spouse for almost 40 yrs., becoming sober after 3 heart attacks but continues to sneak and smoke cigarettes (saw them in his sock). Very arrogant acting, distant. My main issue is my 35 year old daughter who lives with us along with 8 year old grandson. Daughter is also alcoholic over 5 yrs that I know of, but now 32 wks. pregnant and still drinking and smoking. I am not totally crazy thus far only by the grace of God. I am so concerned with health of my granddaughter and unsure what to do. Children’s services is already involved due to previous issues of trying to get her take full responsibility as a parent, not working. I have joint custody. Any advice?

  • Phiwa

    mine is very tough im living with an alcoholic, he has realy made my life a hell, he is a very quite and sweet loving man when he is sober, he drinks till he pees in the bed or sofa, I realy don’t know what to do, we are in a financial mess , our assets has been repossessed by angry shylocks and he doesn’t say anything, I do everything in the house , the kids, food, clothing ect, but he doesn’t appreciate. I realy need help but I don’t know how, if I threaten to leave him he runs to alcohol the bar is his scape goat. this is realy sad

  • john

    There are over 7 billion people on the planet to choose from as friends & partners. Run. If u choose to remain with a drinking Alcoholic who decides not to stop, then you are the idiot not them. I wasted 18 months of my life with my ex BF, taking him to AA meetings, taking his to hospital for emergency detox treatments and for what? Abuse, money loss and constant fights. They choose to drink. They are the most selfish people in the planet. Avoid at all costs unless you want to ruin your life.

  • Ross

    Sandy…I identify, literally with everything you shared.Been w/ my alcoholic almost as long as you.But most likely will be divorced before our 25th anniversary in Dec..No matter all my sacrifices to hold us together, he still took our retirement and spent it, cheated and left.He wanted to come home for over a year that we were separated but wanted no accountability or to get well.Just come home.(He had the income)
    I also think he cheated off and on the whole time he was trying to talk to me about coming home.
    I did become majorly depressed from the harsh life I’d had w/ him.Also diagnosed with PTSD.I guess that’s good enough reason for me to jump ship, as he didn’t really want to address his issues.

    Anthony, I can understand where you are coming from, to a degree.But some of us HAD to separated…Just needing to point out a few things and have no attitude, so please don’t take it that way.I have been pulled down pretty far and have been trying to recover for 7 years..

    How about ADULTERY? Do alcohlics get a free pass just because their alcoholic?When anyone else would understandably have the option to be held accountable? What about the mental abuse by being in that? Physical abuse should be considered of course, but mental abuse should be seen just as damaging!I know what its done to me and people shouldn’t be told they can try to deal with it.I understand about love, but that encourages martyrdom and I believe that is very bad!!What I did, was because of love and fear. I know I did that too and I know what that did to me.I understand their sick.But I think there is so much damage and insanity I don’t see how that the person trying to make it work with an alcoholic can come away w/o being so badly affected that it wouldn’t show up in their health.I didn’t want my marriage to end, but maybe he did ME a favor by seeking a divorce(as if he had the reason-he knew I wouldt take him back on HIS conditions that he get a free pass.We’d discussed his selfish demands.He wanted to control and abuse me into letting him come home w/o consequences because he knew I was financially dependent.Held me over the barrel.

  • Ross

    JC your articles/shares are so helpful and I can tell recovery is working for you.I too hope to get better and better in my recovery program.You have been through so much and this article is very good.
    Reading about how you were cheated on,would you be able to share how you handled that? I of course didn’t leave right away.As I think he’d cheated several times while relapsed and I didn’t know.I had questioned it but didn’t know till this last relapse in 2011 that this had been a pattern with him that I didn’t see ..Thank you !

  • Mike

    Alcoholism equal lies, and that is the cold, hard truth.
    “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”
    That’s what it comes down to.
    The shock, hurt and denial that accompanies the drinker was unknown to me at first.
    No one wants to believe they fell for it, or continue to believe it, but it is.
    We all saw the obvious signs, but talked ourselves into thinking we would be different.
    To those who are thinking about a relationship with a drinker?
    Think again.
    When one lies to themselves, everything you do becomes an attack.
    Alcoholism + denial + suspicion + paranoia + excuses = a very, very unhappy, miserable marriage.
    Alcoholics live in their own reality and actually want to live in it.
    They will swear it is not so, but it is.
    That is why they need AA to keep convincing themselves that their reality is real, while living in a different world.
    They’ll live in it for 30-40 years.
    The alcoholic started forming their own version of reality way before you came along, and everything the alcoholic saw reinforced their view of life and way of thinking.
    They pick their friends very, very carefully.
    Never will an alcoholic pick a mentally healthy friend. It will show them their way is not right.
    That is why people in AA relate to everything they say to themselves.
    Spouses in AA will relate to each other more than they ever will to you.
    That is why AA is like a marriage and a religion.
    Alcoholics cannot function in the normal world, so instead of drinking, they hang out with drinkers.
    It is the same trap.
    My wife has met people sober for 40 years, but have to go to AA for 40 years almost every day.
    One addiction for the other.
    If a spouse has to go every day to AA for the rest of a marriage, then they are really married to AA.
    If anyone out there wants to be a martyr, be my guest, and marry an alcoholic.
    Read every story here clearly.
    It will not go away, and they will not stop.
    That’s like trying to get a dog from barking.
    Pray for them and love them, but do not marry them.
    It is a “them” as you will find out.

  • Mike

    Sorry if I didn’t share “coping skills,” but we need to start being able to teach others what to look for and not get in our trap from the start.
    I apologize if I went astray.

  • Mike

    Sandy, may I share a quote from a song that helps me in my life when it comes to failure?
    You know those feelings of
    “I should have done more.”
    “Maybe it was my fault?”
    “Why was I so stupid?”
    “How can God ever forgive me?”
    It is a church hymn.

    “My sin, not in part, but in whole.
    Is nailed to the cross,
    and I bear it no more.”

  • Debbi

    You and I are in the same exact position right now with separating and finding out about infidelity. I am just coming up on one year since my divorce. I feel insulted when on top of staying in a marriage where he abused me (&yes mental abuse is the worse–I think we both rather have bruises to prove the abuse) we then find out they were seeking others. I DO NOT give him a pass on that–alcohol does not excuse bad behavior which is why in AA they must make amends for what they did. Yours held financial control as did mine but you were strong and were able to separate. Are you where I find myself now–depression and second-guessing the decision to leave? It is so hard–I guess there is no easy road with or without them? Please keep posting–I & others need support of those of us leaving the A’s and dealing with the aftermath. My thoughts are with you.

  • Ross

    Debbi,theres so much that goes into it all, isn’t there? Recovery-working the steps, sharing,going to groups when I can, reading recovery materials, trying to take care of me.All of these have had an impact.It is insulting what my stbx has done.But a thought came to mind not long ago…HE did these things.Why am I feeling bad for what he did? He did it.Its a reflection on him (and his sickness) not whether I/marriage was worthy of his mistreatment.I believe I did everything I could.But it soon became clear (lately) that I don’t have to “receive” the thought that I wasn’t important enough to value.I was.
    I had to give myself credit for all that I did.Beating myself up over this and that, did NOTHING! to get me out of the pits.Recovery and being good to me (mentally/physically) helps.It really does.I can choose to not let things drag me down.I can live in the moment, accept what is going on that I don’t like, but don’t have to base my..
    **value/self worth on what husband does/doesn’t do.I can choose to value and like me no matter if I have fallen short(else none of us could raise our heads-ever)
    ** I don’t have to wake up and determine how I am going to feel according to what he says, does, has done,hasnt done,etc.I can choose to look and focus on what is right in my world and realize there is a lot of good.And no reason to believe that life cant be good.
    **Lately, I’ve grasped a little bit about projecting about the future, in a negative light.Recovery tells me to avoid that.I just realized that a day or two ago.I believe their right.I do it and I have redirected my thoughts when I notice it.
    **I am ok whether he acknowledges his wrongs or gives me any attention that I think I need from him.He cant give it and having expectations sets me up for disappointment and resentments-and there goes the negative spiral of thinking…I can choose to redirect, if I want to get positive and see lifes possibilities.I need to do that to get better.
    **Accepting he is sick, his actions show it and I because it is so strong for me to fight denial he LOOKS like my husband, but soon I see his DISEASE talking.I can choose to remind myself when he’s “not right”, that I am talking to his disease and if I remember that I can choose to avoid being sucked into it with him and pulled down by it.Gotta try to stay up!! I also try to imagine when his disease is talking that there is a shadow over him and when that shadow appears, its a spirit that is saying all those hurtful things and driving him to do what he may not want to do.Because its controlling him.Like when people are having a demon cast out of them, they have to want to be delivered of it for them to effectively cast it out.I am trying to see that I need to recover for me and if I do. I am not working as a partner to this sp seeks to destroy him and keep him deceived.By working my recovery for me, I also am able to not help trick him into not seeing what this spirit(disease) is doing to him.Costing him.Maybe he will wake up to it, maybe not.But I can dream of a new future not hinged on his approval for my self esteem, but one based on loving me and treating myself like I am somebody too! If anyone doesn’t like it, that’s their problem.This is my life and I gotta live it the best way I can and try to enjoy the good stuff, if I will only keep my eyes off him and dream a dream for me…

  • Debbi

    You are exactly right Ross!
    I never struggled with guilt over the obvious things HE did, my guilt was did I contribute to causing it? But with me the big thing is the hurt because of the time that he initiated divorce 3 times I was facing illness or surgery and I cannot fathom any respectable man walking out on someone & yanking the health insurance at the same time. I love the way you view him as an actual shadow over him controlling him. If I still had contact with him that idea would have saved me a lot of grief. You have a great inner strength. Do you have any more contact with him or is most of the divorce issues solved?

  • Juliet Cordova

    Ross, imperfectly yet very beautifully communicated…the butterfly practicing to use her wings again.

  • Mike

    Even when alcoholics stop drinking, they will continue to make stupid mistakes, like those that led them to drinking.
    They have a mentality that leads them to poor judgement.
    You will find the alcoholic might stop drinking and change friends, but they will make choices that will lead them to new ‘bad’ friends and new ‘bad’ places.
    My wife’s has allowed her daughter into the most risky of lifestyle.
    Letting her daughter hang out with the most dangerous of friends.
    Friends that already are showing bad choices and poor judgement.
    Letting her spend the week with her alcoholic ex-husband (who hasn’t worked in five years and lives at home) and his troubled family.
    Letting her stay with her drug using cousins, becasue “it can’t possibly happen to her.”
    The kids at that house are drop outs, drink, smoke pot, and all is allowed.
    Alcoholism is a complete addiction.
    Physical, mental and spiritual.
    They have even convinced the medical world to call it a disease.
    Because it’s a “disease” it therefore cannot be learned..
    The alcoholic’s life is a mess and it was a mess when we all met them.
    It was our own denial that a family could be like that.
    I had no alcoholism like that in my family.
    The only one who drank a lot was me, and I stopped in one day, due to medical conditions.
    That was 15 years ago.
    I am sure it sounds like a big mistake and regret for me, and it is.
    That is why no one can ever marry ANYONE in addiction, EVER.
    That’s part of the “It’s not my fault” characteristic of alcoholism.
    Don’y fall for it.
    It is how you see it.
    Many comments here are about boyfriends/girlfriends.
    Not married to them? Good. Run away. Do not be fooled.
    The fact that you are sympathetic to their excuses means they already are starting to own your emotions and thoughts.

  • Ross

    Debbi…..we have very little contact only when necessary.divorce isnt final yet.
    I have to remind myself of the facts when I can catch myself trying to have wishful thinking.

  • Debbi

    Mike: It must be torture watching your wife allow your daughter into those places. . .my heart goes out to you.

    Ross: I too sometimes have that wishful thinking but mine just hopes one day for an apology and possibly admit that maybe at some point in our 20 years together he had some love for me and I was not totally being used until the “right one” came along.

  • Mike

    It was told to me that a step-daughter will not do anything that is not allowed by the mother.
    I have given up trying to direct her life.
    Just when I think she will be open to some of my guidance, her mother lets her do exactly what we had agreed was not good for her.
    Instead of keeping her away from bad influences, she is allowed there.
    It is because the alcoholic sees through different eyes.
    They have been around insane behavior so much, it is normal to them.
    A “regular” person would run from some of the stuff an alcoholic family is raised around.
    It is shocking what I see go on in the other family.
    I thought I could keep it away, but it is too strong and too much for one person to combat.
    I thought it was selfish and too shallow to want the in-laws to be good people.
    That all that mattered was a good wife.
    But it is not like that. The in-laws must have the sam values as the spouse.
    That is one thing I would press to anyone debating whether to marry.
    Remember, that family formed the spouse.
    My new advice to prospective couples is, to go to the in-law’s house.
    If you don’t like what you see, then move on.
    Do you like what you see in your spouse as is?
    If not, move on.
    We all go back to our upbringing and natural selves.
    I am praying that things turn out good for my family and that I can one day be happy I stood through the tough times, but as of right now, I regret marrying my wife.
    I stay string and faithful, but it is so tiring.
    How horrible is that?

  • Debbi

    My mother said the same thing you did–before any commitment with someone find out about their family & if you don’t like what you see, move on. I have a suggestion for your step daughter if it helps. . .if you have any contact with her and allowed to see her, see if you can take her to church functions, Alateen meetings & get her around some better influence. I lost my son 13 years ago to his father who even though not in the picture except a few weekend visits exposed him to his “party life” and my son got hooked and walked out & went to live with Dad in his senior year of school. I have had no contact with him by his choice and he is now 31 years old. I look back & realized I was a good influence but not enough, I should have taken him to my church more & got him involved with the young teenagers there so he would have a different prospective than just what “old mom” was preaching. So, if you are allowed to see your step daughter, try to take her to church picnics and get her around some new young people that she may make friends with. The old saying. . .do whatever it takes to keep your kids off drugs & steer them towards a good life, you were not meant to be their friend, you are meant to be their teacher, whether they like the discipline or not. Try not to let the next generation of ex’s family continue with the daughter. You can do it!

  • Mike

    I have tried that.
    I used to think that all I had to do was get the ball rolling and the right thing would begin to take over
    This is one thing that needs to be stressed is that the alcoholic does not think like the normal person.
    They have developed a complete reversal of how the healthy world sees things.
    Places like AA only stop the physical habits, and to some that is enough.
    It still enslaves the spirit and mind.
    The hard truth is, no one should become involved with anyone in addiction.
    As I was told, there had to be at the very least, a complete year of sobriety.
    I was told she had stopped for the whole year.
    As has been said here many times, the two personalities of the alcoholic is the drinking and the lying.
    They go hand-in-hand and they never go away.
    They either stay together or they both go away together.
    You cannot have drinking and honesty.
    It just does not come like that however much we want to pretend it does.
    My step-daughter is slowly going going that route because the boundaries are ceasing to exist.
    Remember, the good advise you give them is viewed as judgement and control.
    They suffer fro a sense of paranoia over being exposed.
    The crazy thing is, they have already been exposed and only in their minds do they think no one knows.
    How can anyone reason with that thinking?
    The bad influences that we both recognized are let in.
    The other trait of an alcoholic is long term memory fails.
    The bad relative who molested today, is once again at family gatherings.
    It just does not register in the alcoholic personality, because they were raised into that behavior.
    Watch the family of alcoholics. They welcome those types of addictions because they let it in.
    Alcoholism is not a disease, but a behavior developed since childhood.
    That is what seeing the family is so critical.
    I has suspicions but wasn’t sure, and not I should have listened to that voice that said, “look elsewhere.”
    I keep praying for strength and healing for my family, but as of right now, my life sucks!
    I take full responsibility for being fooled by the obvious.
    Oh well.

  • Debbi

    How can we help to make your life better. Are you still living with your wife? Can we put some distance or separation on that? What do you think you can do to first help you and then maybe help your step daughter? Think outside the box–I did some unorthodox things during my inhouse separation to get even my attorney to stand up and notice what I was going through, no one understood. Tell us more of your living arrangements & schedules & maybe we can all come up with something that will help.

  • Mike

    Make it all go away. I just want it to all go away.
    We live together and not being able to see a happy future is so depressing.
    Alcoholic families simply exist.
    Life gives us all obstacles, but to have this at the beginning of our new family is so discouraging.
    It is never hopeless, but as we all know, alcoholics are their own worst trap.
    They have listened to their own lies for so long, they believe them.
    That hard part for me is, my “BS detector” is always on high around her.
    I feel, more than ever, just like a guardian to my step-daughter.
    The hurtful part was believing that I was going to be some kind of father to her, but it ain’t going to happen.
    I have been seeing the separation begin in every day life.
    I have no say in her life, and that is okay, but just tell me that.

    Alcoholics pull from reality and fantasy when it benefits them.
    I almost want to laugh when my wife tries to excuse her behavior.
    She is caught red-handed and listening to her fabricate her excuses is sad, really.
    Seeing her in a good mood and sober, only to realize that, that is only short lived.
    It truly seems live a demonic possession.
    That is the only way I can explain what it is.
    The best way you can help, is by just being here and sharing your own story.
    Thank you all.

  • Mike

    Listening to my wife make plans with her daughter in private without me in the plan, makes me feel worthless in this family.
    “Staying string” and putting my foot down is just too exhausting.
    My wife and her daughter were raised in the same environment, so it is no surprise they are alike.
    I want to stay string, but I can see me leaving as this get worse.

  • linda

    I can relate I feel like the option here.

  • Debbi

    The only one who can make it “all go away” is you. And in order to do that you need to walk away. Are you prepared to do that? Thirteen years ago I grounded my son from using the vehicle because he broke curfew one more time, teenager thing you know. He packed his bag & went to live with his father. My then A husband at the time (not my son’s father) told me my son returned one day when I was not home and to this day I wonder if my STBX said something out of line to my son & told lies about me like I later found out he was doing to everyone. He (my now ex) could be the reason my son made no other attempt to contact me. Maybe he saw what a liar my husband was long before I did. I should have set a better example for my son and left sooner. Can you stay with friends for awhile and separate yourself from the situation? It does not have to be permanent but your step daughter will see that her mother’s behavior is not something she & others have to tolerate. You might set a good example and say you will return when she starts a recovery program. . .just a thought.

  • Debbi

    Does Anyone who is still Living with their A’s want to try an experiment?

    If you have been reading everything on this site & other sites then you are starting to learn different ways to cope with your A. You probably also have heard from counselors & support groups that journaling your thoughts and events help you at the time and also help you to look back and see your progress and theirs.

    So. . .Why not everyone every day write down in their journals the interactions with their A’s and how they handled it and how they could have improved handling it based on the 18 suggestions in this article. Make a game of improving your skills in handling each situation and improve how you interact and how you protect your emotions and how you let them handle their own consequences from now on and report back with your stories.

    Anyone interested? I have already left my A but I would like to see if any of you that have decided to stay can use the suggestions as I found them much too late to help my marriage.

  • serena

    This website has helped me so much ! I have been married to my husband for 8 years now and needless to say looking back when we were dating and first married I never seen it coming. I dont think I was prepared for what I went through cause it was a gradual process and no one when there dating you tells you up front Hi I’m a alcoholic I’m going to make your life hell ,but here I am 8 years later and were still together. Yes I have thought of leaving him many times but felt I stuck it out cause I do love him and thought that maybe somehow I could change him if I did this or that he would stop drinking,but I think thats biggest lie we believe n tell ourselves when we are married to someone we love,cause truth is we cant change them and this website helped me to see that . The choice is up to them. Also for other reasons I stayed fear of being on my own, not wanting to give up on my commitment I made to him ,but I know in my heart I deserve better. I never asked for his anger,the loneliness n neglect I would feel, I never asked for verbal,emotional abuse,financial struggles,the arguments, but I have to say hardest thing for me has been the loneliness and lack of security ,his anger and not feeling emotionally connected with him cause of his drinking. I have also learned that people that do have drinking problem are very selfish people cause there needs will come first and they are very good about denying they even have a problem! I know now that I cant make him quit I have to find my own happiness and disconnect from him emotionally so I can become my own person again and not expect any more from him than what he can give me so I wont be disappointed! Thank you to everyone who shared your story’s you have encouraged and helped me so much!

  • Debbi

    Your story though sad shows your hope & strength. They hide their drinking to us in the beginning like they hide it from others. Once there is intimacy then we start to see it and they tend to hurt the one they love the most and so those closes to the A’s do get the worst of the anger, lies, denial, pain and hurtful words. You and I both stayed longer than we knew we should but fear of unknown kept us in the situation. We both knew we could not control it and we did not cause it but looks like we both struggled some with the did not cause it part. Their manipulating ways makes us think we share the blame. I struggle daily with the financial security part but it is my own struggle now which is good because I now can control that without any more interference. I too suffered the loneliness but guess what? I gave into it and now that I am completely alone (no family nearby or any support) I have still found I like being alone–because now it brings peace & quiet and no more angry words. You too will finally arrive at this point. My hurt still there because I watch him now treating someone else better after abandoning me but when I get to the point of indifference I will know my healing is complete.

  • Thank you Debbi ,yes it is hard. Im sorry to about what you have gone through I think talking about it for me helps alot so I dont feel so alone! I’m glad though that you have found peace in your life!

  • Mike

    It s hard to face the truth, for us and the drinker.
    I am tired of the bull$hit and facing the anger of the drinker after the truth has been told.
    It is better than the stress of living in denial.
    For the drinkers I say “TOO BAD!!!!”

  • Terri

    My husband is an alcoholic he lies all the time about drinking. He gets SSI and Im his payee so It makes It really difficult situation when I don’t give him money. But when I do he goes straight to the liquor store. He gets very angry a lot when I don’t. He asked me to give him the debit card which I politely told him no. Sometimes he will accuse me of stealing his money. Im trying very hard not to play into his game. But sometimes Its very difficult. He has admitted on occasion to picking fights thinking that will give him an excuse to drink.

  • Tumi

    My husband left the house yesterday in the afternoon to go meet somebody about a job but hasn’t returned yet.(Its 10.00 am the next morning).I followed advice I got on this web and just went to sleep last night but woke up a number of times during the night to find empty sheets.It was a really lonely night.OK he does party at times but tries to get home at least at the crack of dawn the next morning at the latest.

    This time seems different and I am really worried.What if something happened to him?I tried to call his drinking buddies and family but noone has seen him since a day ago.Could he have been involved in a car accident?Has he been arrested?Is he having an affair and not even bothering to hide it?These are all unanswered questions that are wrecking my brain at the moment.Its even affecting my work.

    Detaching yourself from an alcoholic is not as easy at it sounds especially when you’re married to them.You just can’t help it but worry.Especially in cases such as these when the alcoholic just goes missing.One time he didn’t come home his friend came to tell me the next afternoon that he’d been arrested and it wasn’t a DUI or anything like that.He wasn’t even drunk.And there I was relaxed thinkin he’d been bingeing on alcohol and was too drunk to drive home but that wasn’t the case.

    Today I just can’t help it but feel anxious about his unexplained absence.He’s phone’s off and he was last seen on WHATSAPP just before 3 p.m yesterday which is very unusual.

    How do I get by something like this?Is it ok to worry?What should I do when he decides to come home and he seem unharmed?It aint easy being married to an alcoholic and sometimes I think its less stressful to be single.

  • Tumi

    Its torture being married to an alcoholic.I don’t know wether to send out a search party or call the priest or just chill out.Its 11.24 am still no sign of my AH.This is so stressful

  • Tim

    I feel your pain! I’m going through the same thing my wife has been gone for three day’s now and has our 3 year old daughter with her. I feel like i’m going to pass out. I go from being worried sick to being extremely angry.

  • Tumi

    My AH finally showed up just after midnight the following day.Instead of a hello or at least stammering an excuse he screamed at me about his mother finding out he was missing.His sister must have called her after i checked if he’d slept at her house.I simply kept quiet and searched his car to find till slips which hinted the presence of two ladies in the car, that adds on to the collection of earrings and condoms I’ve found in the car to date.

    Its been four days since he didn’t sleep at home.Still no sign of remorse, no apology instead he drinks like there’s no tommorrow.He’s still doesn’t worry about getting a job and thinks i’ll still take care of everything.Well he’s wrong.I’m moving out end of this week.My daughter’s already on her way to her Grandma’s and i’m taking my son with me.

    Might even leave the country and go stay with my mother.He said if I leave I should never come back but frankly I don’t care anymore coz where infidelity meets drunkness there is no hope for a healthy relationship.His good friend tried to make peace between us but my AH wouldn’t even come to talk to him in my presence.

  • Mike

    There is no such thing as “letting go” and staying married. Why be married if you are ‘letting go”?
    “Letting go” is another lie of drinking. You cannot “let go” and still be around the drinker.
    To “let go” is to leave them to their own consequences.
    To let go is to not care, sorry. True letting go is to leave the alcoholic.

  • Mike

    Tumi, infidelity is a no-brianer.
    Cheating is a ticket to saying ‘good bye.’

  • Mac

    I’m going to give this detachment process a go. And I think I’ll get God on the case as well. Im in love with my wife but the loving feeling is abating. My wife is a binge drinker, once drinking there is no stopping her. If there are drugs present she’ll do those as well. Im guilty of standing around at parties, functions, nights out (all organised by her with her hard drinking friends) and waiting for her to get into a paralytic state at which points she’s ready to leave and I drive her home. I now explain that im leaving and I ask if she wants to come with me. She says no ofcourse and asks why i can never relax and have a bit if fun. She calls me the ‘anti-social ‘fun police’ & mocks me for trying to get her to drink water between over-filled wine glasses then cackles with her friends about how much trouble she’ll be in (as if it was all a big social game) – she stumbles in, collapses on the bed & then vomits all morning.. I’m very afraid for our children’s safety as I’m often away in business (trying to cut this down). I’ve tried controlling her drinking, I’ve begged her to get assessed or to go to a counsellor with me. All to no avail. Her father died of alcohol related disease but she sees no association or connection. Also I’ll give al-anon a go – I need support. I’m desperate, anxious and live in dread. Its not much of a life but I think detachment may have a chance of improving things for me and perhaps I can build some emotional reserves. Thanks for the advice.

  • Mike

    I can bet she was a drinker when you met her and looked the other way. Me too!!!
    It is a matter of who she is married to. You or alcohol?
    I thought this impossible for me to think this, but at times, I want to find my wife cheating, so I can divorce her.
    Since divorce is against my faith, cheating is one time I can let go.
    Crazy thinking, huh?
    That is the possession of alcohol.

  • patty

    GO TO AL ANON; GO TO THE LIGHT OF JESUS OR YOUR HIGHER POWER! My friend sent me to this site, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to share with others, living with the dis-ease of alcoholism. My AH is very high functioning, and early in our relationship, we opened a business and achieved a success financial state. 18 yrs later, and increasing emotional abuse + anger has affected me. What seemed like binge drinking has escalated to 1.75L a week + many beers and I HATE the sound of that pull tab! We began digging at each other, and now I feel like I’m in a competition instead of a marriage. He doesn’t seem to like me, or anything I do! Spends much of his time obsessing in anger that he blames on the current Political situation…I retaliated by forming a brief addiction to being online, and got way behind in my half of the biz, so bad that now we may have to do bankruptcy or something drastic. My mom died and I found out how much he hated her and this is hard: I feel they were both addicts, competing for my attention. He now gets so wasted, falls and hurts himself; When sober, he calls me during business and yells at me; When high, he is so sweet it feels fake. I’m afraid the Frontal Lobe damage has occurred as the quiet, easy going guy I dated is nowhere in sight. When he sees that I make myself happy, he takes me down with negative prods. I call it the “Hug and Slap”. YES, I saw the signs when we were dating, but my Co-Dependency fooled me into thinking I could be the one to help him “escape”, LOLOL. THE GOOD NEWS: I found Al Anon; Found my way back to a close relationship with Jesus; Found some new non-addict friends. These things have helped me to Wake Up! and regain my hold on reality! I’m scared & worried about the financials, there could be some rough spots to endure, but I believe that God will help me through to complete my tasks, so I can move into a new life! My AH has been in rehab before. His recent comments prove he has no intention of doing anything about his drinking. I don’t want to live the rest of my life in this sad bondage. It may be a difficult ball to unravel, but I now have the energy and conviction to complete. Thanks for letting me share and GOD’S PEACE AND GRACE BE WITH US ALL!

  • @Mike –
    There is no such thing as “letting go” and staying married. Why be married if you are ‘letting go”?
    “Letting go” is another lie of drinking. You cannot “let go” and still be around the drinker.
    To “let go” is to leave them to their own consequences.
    To let go is to not care, sorry. True letting go is to leave the alcoholic.

    Loved your comment above – and it is so true. Who wants to live in an empty, loveless marriage? It makes no sense. I just read all of the comments – some from 3/4 years ago! I cannot stress enough that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Leaving my alcoholic/narcissistic ex was the best decision in my life. I truly live a life of happiness now. My life is quiet and drama free. There is no way possible to “detach” and still stay married to someone – it just isn’t possible. Mike – what is your current situation? Did you leave? Did she get help?

  • Mike

    Yes, still together. I realize that AA is so full of BS. They drink because they want to and all the talk of “tough talk” and “not enabling” is exactly what AA does. They want to drink and then feel bad after, then AA give then an out for all the guilt. They are immature and can;t handle life because they’ve been babied their whole life. Hey, life is tough. Too bad. Every AA meeting I went to was the same everywhere.
    Experts in excuse making. It isn’t a disease. It is a chose and until they accept that, they will keep drinking and having all the guilt removed by a group of other alcoholics saying “it’s okay.” It’s not okay. Grow up!

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