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The Best Advice on Living with an Alcoholic Husband

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

Living with an alcoholic husband is by no means an easy thing to do. Some of the women we have worked with liken it to riding a roller coaster every single day. At one moment it seems as though you are climbing a steep hill just to get through the day, the next moment you are plunging into a valley of despair. This is certainly no way to live. If we can help by directing you to support for you and your family, we would appreciate the opportunity. Please call our 24-hour helpline.

In the absence of being able to provide you with direct support in your time of need, we have put together some of the best advice we have based on the latest standards, research, and information relating to alcoholism and its effect on the family. Below are five separate items with information we believe will be helpful to you. In addition to using this information, we encourage you to either contact us or seek appropriate help and support from a professional.

1. Living with a Violent Husband

Women living with violent alcoholics are in the most serious trouble. That is why we chose to put this information at the top of our list. No one deserves to be treated violently or abusively for any reason, especially women who are forced to live with alcoholic husbands who will not get help. If you find yourself in this situation, your choices are limited. One thing is for sure: you cannot allow yourself to continue risking your life and health, and that of your children, by leaving things as they are.

Domestic violence is a frequent by-product of alcoholism among men. Alcoholics tend to have very little concern about anyone else around them; they tend to be very selfish individuals who insist on having things their own way. Unfortunately, alcohol affects the brain in such a way as to increase feelings of agitation, anger, and bitterness. These can lead to violence when a man does not get what he wants.

We urge you to get yourself and your children out of the house if your husband is violent. Go stay with family or friends if you have to. You might also consider contacting the authorities if you do not feel as though leaving the house will still not guarantee your safety. And, of course, counselling for yourself and your children is probably a wise idea too.

2. Your Husband Is Not Dependable

Assuming domestic violence is not a problem in your case, living with an alcoholic husband still presents plenty of challenges just to maintain the daily routine. Among them is the reality that your husband is not dependable. He will make promises to get things done and never follow through on them. He will be late for appointments, he may routinely be late for work, and he may not return home for days at a time.

The best advice we can give here is to simply stop relying on your husband. Find ways to utilise other people to get things done. Your children might be able to pitch in a little more; you may have to call on friends and other family members for help until your husband undergoes treatment.

3. Dealing with Lies and Deception

Alcoholics tend to be deceivers and outright liars. Do not let it control your life. For starters, there's no point in asking your alcoholic husband how much he's had to drink today; he is not going to be honest with you anyway. If he promises he will get help for his drinking problem, don't get your hopes up until he enters a rehab programme and completes the first few weeks of it. Don't continue to put your trust in him until he proves to you he is trustworthy. Otherwise, you will be risking your emotional stability.

4. Supporting Your Children

Children are often the forgotten victims when households go awry. The truth is that children suffer significantly when one or both of their parents struggles with alcohol. As a wife living with an alcoholic husband, you should do your best to support and protect your children day by day.

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Supporting them includes listening to them as they speak about their fears. It means answering questions about their father honestly, without trying to turn their hearts against him. It means encouraging them that all of you, together, can keep working hard until the problems at home are eventually overcome.

In terms of protecting your children, we have already addressed the issue of domestic violence. But you should also make an effort to protect them from witnessing your husband's drinking episodes. Statistics show that children of alcoholics are more likely to grow up to become alcoholics themselves. The less they see of their father's behaviour, the greater the chances you can prevent this from happening with your kids.

5. Search out Treatment Options

The fact that living with an alcoholic husband makes your life extremely difficult does not mean you are powerless. One of the best things you can do for your husband and your family is to research all of the treatment options available in your local area. You cannot force your husband to undergo treatment, but researching the options still serves a crucial purpose in that it prepares you to move at such time as your husband decides to get help.

It has been shown that alcoholics who decide to seek treatment may only hold onto that agreeable mindset for a short amount of time. For example, let's say you utilise the services of an alcohol counsellor to conduct an intervention for your husband. A successful intervention would result in him deciding to get treatment for his problem. That's great news. But you may only have a few hours to work with. With a new day may come a change of heart on the part of your husband.

Researching treatment options ahead of time makes it possible for you to contact a rehab centre to put preliminary plans in place. Even if you are not ready to reserve a bed for your husband, knowing that space is available at a moment’s notice gives you the upper hand. At the very moment your husband finally breaks down and agrees to seek treatment, you can make the phone call and reserve a bed. He can begin treatment within hours.

As an independent advice and referral service, we have helped numerous women in your situation. We know from experience that living with an alcoholic husband is nothing short of a nightmare. If we can help, we want to do what we can. Please contact us by way of our 24-hour helpline for more information. We will listen to what you have to say, answer your questions, provide sound advice and, if you wish, provide you with treatment information from rehab clinics and other service providers.

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