Are you living with an alcoholic husband? Do you feel like you are being taken advantage of? A number of women I treat in this position feel like a doormat and their self-esteem suffers each time they put up with the extreme selfishness of a spouse that is deep in his addiction.
I am a psychiatrist that specializes in addiction and I understand what spouses endure when living with an alcoholic.
Here is one of my recent cases:
H.Z. is 58 years old and has been married for 20 years. Her first husband was an alcoholic. She left him and took their 2 young kids with her. He had been very successful and then lost everything. Her second husband drank often. He also was very successful. He became clean and sober only when she threatened to leave him and he was able to maintain his sobriety for 5 years.
However, he started drinking thinking he could control his consumption. His drinking became progressively worse. He started coming home late. At times, he did not come home at all. He ignored her phone calls and her texts. They fought over his drinking. He would respond, “Is that all you care about?”. Over time, H.Z. became quite depressed and her husband chose to be around her less and less. She started feeling worthless as her husband treated her “lower than dirt” (as she put it). However, she put up with this terrible treatment.
What could H. Z. have done? Here are 7 tips to stand up to your alcoholic husband:
1) Talk to your alcoholic spouse about his drinking only when he is sober. Talk in a calm manner and tell him you will be making changes in your own life because you can not depend on him to quit drinking alcohol.
2) Reach out and start developing a support system. Call friends that you have been afraid to open up to and tell them the truth about your situation. Go to Al- Anon meetings and get support from other women who have gone through similar situations.
3) Find a therapist and start working on your own codependency issues. If you can not afford individual therapy, find a therapist that does group therapy.
4) If you have not worked in a long time, get a part time job to ease back into the work world and put yourself on a track not to be 100% financially dependent on your alcoholic husband.
5) Consider going back to school and retraining in an area that will ultimately land you a good job.
6) Get your kids some help because they are growing up in an alcoholic family which leads to life-long issues. Find a therapist, school counselor, or even send them to teen-anon. Betty Ford has an excellent program for younger children in several different cities.
7) Consider a separation if you have tried these things and your life has not improved.
Bottom line: You are the only one that can change your situation. You deserve a great life. Be proactive and your situation will improve.
Remember: It is up to you, not up to him.