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My Husband’s Drinking Is Ruining Our Marriage: What To Do?

Alcohol abuse can be destructive to relationships. In fact, about half of all marriages where one partner has a drinking problem end in divorce. If you have ever thought to yourself: “My husband’s drinking is ruining our marriage, what do I do?” This article is for you.

Are you concerned about your husband’s drinking and your relationship? Are you wondering how to help an alcoholic spouse? Don’t lose all hope. Professional support, couples therapy, and fellowship groups can help support your husband in his recovery and heal your relationship.

How Does Alcohol Destroy Marriages?

Unhealthy drinking habits can take a toll on any relationship, primarily marriages, and learning how to deal with alcoholic husband can be challenging. Research has found that drug and alcohol abuse may lead to relationship dissatisfaction, instability, and verbal and physical aggression between you and your partner.

Every marriage is unique and can be affected by alcohol abuse in different ways. Some of these may include:

  • Neglect of responsibilities. Alcohol impairs cognitive and physical capabilities, preventing people from effectively fulfilling responsibilities. Drinking may also preoccupy your husband’s day-to-day life, putting other obligations and duties first.
  • Recovery from hangovers. Heavy drinkers usually experience frequent hangovers. While a hangover may be temporary, it can prevent your husband from fulfilling his tasks within family life. It can also encourage harmful behaviors like unhealthy eating and lack of exercise.
  • Legal problems. Excessive alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, can increase the likelihood that your husband will be involved in violent fights, accidents, or other offenses like drunk driving. Your husband’s drinking problem is also likely to have a monetary cost and may put a strain on the family’s finances.
  • Potential for addiction. While not everyone with a drinking problem is addicted to alcohol, heavy drinking, and alcohol dependency increase the likelihood of developing an addiction. Addiction is a destructive condition that can take over someone’s life and requires professional help to recover from.
  • Creating a bad climate. Unhealthy drinking habits in the home often create a harmful environment for raising children. If both parents are heavy drinkers, they may encourage a particularly bad climate. Studies show that children who have a parent with an addiction are at an increased risk of developing an addiction and other mental health conditions themselves.

Male patient during individual therapy in a rehab center discussing with therapist topics like "my husband's drinking is ruining our marriage", and other alcohol addiction issues.

My Husband’s Drinking is Ruining Our Marriage: When Should I Worry?

Many people drink alcohol from time to time. Drinking in moderation may not be anything to worry about, but if your husband starts drinking more than the recommended levels, there may be cause for concern.

According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA), low-risk drinking for a man involves:

  • Drinking no more than four drinks on a single day
  • Drinking no more than 14 drinks per week

If your husband drinks too much more than this, you may want to have an open conversation about his drinking and talk about professional help if necessary.

When addressing concerns about a spouse’s drinking habits, it’s crucial to recognize the signs that might indicate a deeper issue. If you find yourself constantly wondering, “Is my husband an alcoholic?” or feeling that your husband drinks too much, it’s essential to approach the situation with care and understanding. Being married to an alcoholic can bring a unique set of challenges to a relationship, impacting not only the individual but also the family as a whole.

The line between casual drinking and alcoholism can sometimes be blurred, making it difficult to determine when it’s time to take action. If your husband won’t stop drinking despite repeated discussions and clear negative impacts on his health, relationships, or responsibilities, it might be time to seek professional help. 

Remember that alcoholism is a complex issue, often requiring professional intervention and support. The journey to recovery is a collaborative effort, requiring patience, understanding, and a strong support system. Addressing this issue early can prevent more severe complications in the future and pave the way for healing and healthier dynamics in your relationship.

How Can I Talk to My Husband About His Drinking?

Opening a conversation with your partner about his drinking may seem scary. Speaking with your husband will require strength and empathy, so preparing beforehand is a good idea.

If you are uncertain about the conversation, you may first want to contact a professional addiction specialist for advice and guidance. If not, here are some tips to think about before you open the conversation:

  • Learn about alcohol use disorder
  • Find a calm time to have the conversation when your husband is sober
  • Plan what you’re going to say
  • Think about what is driving your partner’s drinking habits
  • Be open and empathetic when you communicate – try not to be judgmental or act like you have all the answers
  • Set a good example with your drinking habits

Initiating a Conversation

When faced with the challenge of living with an alcoholic, one of the most daunting tasks can be initiating a conversation about their drinking habits. You might wonder, “Can a relationship work if one person drinks?” Being in a relationship with an alcoholic is tricky enough; if you still drink, you might feel some degree of guilt. But remember, you can help without compromising your quality of life. 

Knowing how to talk to an alcoholic requires a blend of compassion, patience, and honesty. Approach the conversation in a non-confrontational manner. Choose a time when your husband is sober and you are both calm. Express your concerns in a caring and supportive way rather than an accusatory or judgmental way.

During the conversation, be specific about the behaviors that concern you and how they impact you and your family. Use “I” statements to express your feelings, such as “I feel worried when you drink because…” This helps keep the conversation focused on your concerns and feelings rather than making your husband feel attacked. Actively listen to his perspective. 

Non-Verbal Communication 

In addition to verbal communication, consider writing a letter if face-to-face conversations are too difficult or if they haven’t been effective. Sometimes, seeing concerns laid out in writing can be a powerful motivator for change. 

Also, remember that you’re not alone in this. Seeking support from friends, family, or support groups like Al-Anon can provide you with additional perspectives and coping strategies. Living with an alcoholic is challenging, but with the right approach and support, it’s possible to make positive changes and help your husband on the path to recovery.

Can Couples Therapy Help If My Husband’s Drinking is Ruining Our Marriage?

Alcohol addiction and abuse affect more than the individual. If your husband has a drinking problem, it’s normal to feel frustrated, concerned, and exhausted.

If you’re suffering as a result of your husband’s drinking problem and find it hard to manage, you may like to try couples therapy – especially if your drinking habits are healthy. Couples therapy can provide a safe space to resolve conflicts between married couples while helping to build a supportive relationship that encourages addiction recovery.

In general, couples therapy has three main aims:

  • To end alcohol abuse
  • To help a partner support the recovery process
  • To develop patterns of behavior that support long-term sobriety

Sometimes, alcohol abuse and relationship problems can form a ‘destructive cycle’ where unhealthy drinking leads to relationship problems, creating stress and emotional turmoil, which encourages further alcohol abuse. Couples therapy aims to intervene and turn the destructive cycle into a constructive one, where supportive relationships lead to increased abstinence and so on.

Couple during a family therapy session discussing addiction treatment and topics like "my husband's drinking is ruining our marriage".

Seeking Support for Yourself

Living with a partner with unhealthy drinking habits can affect your mental health. With this in mind, taking care of yourself is essential, too.

Setting healthy boundaries and practicing good self-care can help you maintain overall well-being. You can also attend Al-Anon meetings, which are fellowship groups specifically for family members of individuals struggling with addiction. Al-Anon meetings are a chance to share negative experiences related to alcoholism, give and receive advice, and find comfort and inspiration from others’ stories.

Sometimes, drinking problems can lead to harmful and abusive behavior, and you may wish to leave the relationship. Remember, there is never any reason to tolerate physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. The Domestic Violence Hotline provides support to survivors of domestic violence so they can live lives free from abuse.

Can a Relationship Work if One Person Drinks?

Recent research suggests that married couples may enjoy better relationship satisfaction when they have the same drinking habits. That is, married couples may be satisfied if they are both abstinent.

While the findings suggest that relationships where the husband is the only person who drinks may tend towards less satisfaction, there is nothing to say that these relationships cannot work. Every relationship is different, and there are plenty of ways to have a satisfying and fulfilling relationship where only one partner drinks.

However, the relationship may become more complex if your spouse drinks too much and develops an unhealthy habit. You may want to try couples therapy or encourage your partner to access professional support to help maintain a healthy relationship.

My Husband is an Alcoholic. Will He Need Detox?

Dealing with an alcoholic husband is never easy. Therefore, if your husband is struggling with alcoholism, it’s crucial to prioritize his well-being and seek professional help. Whether or not he needs detoxification (detox) depends on the severity of his alcohol dependence. A detox may be recommended if he experiences withdrawal symptoms when he attempts to quit drinking, as these can be uncomfortable and even life-threatening.

Many are unsure how to help an alcoholic spouse. However, when it comes to detox, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider or addiction specialist to assess your husband’s specific situation and determine the appropriate course of action, which may include detox, rehabilitation, therapy, and ongoing support to help him achieve sobriety and recovery. If you find yourself feeling frustrated and saying “My husband is an alcoholic”, remember that seeking help early can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment and a healthier future for both of you.

How Can Addiction Treatment Help When My Husband’s Drinking is Ruining Our Marriage?

If your husband is struggling with alcohol addiction, recovery may seem a long way away. The good news is that decades of scientific research have uncovered effective evidence-based treatment methods for recovery from alcohol addiction and substance abuse. According to the NIAAA, “No matter how severe the problem may seem, most people with an alcohol use disorder can benefit from some form of treatment.”

Addiction recovery programs usually combine a range of treatment options tailored to each person’s needs. If your husband attends a rehabilitation program, he may participate in:

Addiction recovery programs usually include comprehensive aftercare to support clients after the end of the rehabilitation program. This may include connecting them with local support groups or offering continued recovery coaching.

For additional support, learn more about how to get someone into rehab. Click here for information on how to get someone into rehab.

Men during a group therapy session addressing issues like “my husband's drinking is ruining our marriage”.

Resources for Dealing With an Alcoholic Spouse

Dealing with an alcoholic husband is an uphill battle. It will be challenging, and there are plenty of unknowns along the way. But you are not alone. There are plenty of resources designed to aid those toward healthy steps when married to an alcoholic.

  • Peer support groups, such as Al-Anon, were founded to help the families of alcoholics who abuse alcohol. These groups can lead to knowledge of how to deal with your spouse’s drinking constructively and reasonably.
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline: SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration) has a free and confidential 24/7 hotline for individuals and families facing addiction.
  • Empowered Recovery Center Alcohol Rehab: Our staff at Empowered will make sure patients get the necessary treatment to live a better and healthier life away from alcohol. Our programs feature detox, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programming.
  • Empowered Alcohol Detox: At Empowered Recovery Center, we offer comprehensive drug and alcohol detox treatment in our Atlanta, GA, treatment facility.

We Are Here to Support You: Contact Us Today

If you find yourself confessing “My husband’s drinking is ruining our marriage”, and don’t know how to deal with alcoholic husband, contact us at Empowered Recovery. We can offer confidential advice about supporting your husband and available treatment options. Call us today to speak to one of our compassionate and expert team and take the first steps to a family life free from drug and alcohol abuse. We are here to support you.

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