How to Talk to Your
Spouse About His or Her Drinking Problem
What do you say when you talk to your spouse about
their drinking? Do you lecture them about their drinking? Do you
threaten them with divorce if they donít stop drinking? Do you call
them names and accuse them of wrongdoing? This is our emotions talking
for us. Spouses of alcoholics are usually emotionally distraught over
the behaviors of the alcoholic and because of this they may end up being
a detriment to the sobriety of the alcoholic. This is why we must learn
to detach emotionally from the alcoholic.
Are You Too Emotionally Consumed with the
No one can make someone else stop drinking, not
even a loved one. The only person who can truly help the alcoholic to
stop drinking is the drinker himself. But you can influence them to come
out of denial and recognize they have a drinking problem. But there is a
certain way you have to talk to them and behave around them. If you are
feeling mentally drained and frustrated over the behaviors of the
alcoholic you wonít be much help to them.
Ironically, once a loved one learns to detach from
the behaviors of the alcoholic and starts taking care of their emotional
and spiritual well being is when the alcoholic realizes they have a
drinking problem. You see, when a loved one is too emotionally consumed
with the alcoholic and their negative behaviors it keeps the alcoholic
stuck in the addiction. This is because they donít have to take
responsibility for it if you are already doing it for them.
Are You an Enabler?
The alcoholic loves all the negative attention you
give them such as the fussing over them when they drink, arguing to them
about their drinking, babying them by putting them to bed, cleaning up
messes they make while drinking, paying their fines, and not to mention
giving them money for alcohol. What is left for them to do? Loved ones
enable and they donít even know it! Enabling is synonymous with taking
responsibility when it comes to being married to an alcoholic.
The alcoholic loves it when you become frustrated
and lose your emotions in bouts of anger at them. It tells them that YOU
are the one with the problem, not them. Anytime you fuss, argue,
threaten, belittle, become angry over, and finger-point and accuse the
alcoholic, you are giving them the ammunition they need to say you are
the one with the problem. But you donít even drink, so how could you
be the one with the problem?
Let me explain this in an example so you will get an idea of what Iím saying here. Have you ever gotten all riled up with your child and threatened them with punishment if they didnít do something, or have you ever screamed and yelled for them to clean up their room? What usually happens? They become rebellious! They scream and yell back, stomp feet, and talk back. Thatís because screaming, yelling and threatening does not work. These tactics have never worked with our children and they will never work with the alcoholic either.
So, now that you know how not to talk to your alcoholic spouse, lets talk about how you should talk to them. NEVER talk to a drinking alcoholic because you are wasting your time. When they are NOT drinking tell them these things.
What to Say to the Alcoholic
1) I love you (spouses name) but I hate the addiction..
2) I will stand by you when you want to quit but I will not stand by you when you drink.
3) I like talking with you when you are sober, but I hate talking with you when you drink.
4) I love being with you as long as you are not drinking, but when you start to drink, I canít be around you.
5) I love the man/woman I married but I do not like
what the drinking does to you.
Be loving and kind and give lots of good attention
when your spouse is not drinking. Always let them know that you will be
supportive of then when they are ready to work towards sobriety. But
when they are drinking, let the alcoholic be. Do not talk to them.
Detach with love. Get on with your day doing whatever it is you do and
allow yourself to completely be freed of what the alcoholic is doing.
Youíre not responsible for the alcoholic, so stop
taking responsibility for the alcoholic. Without using an angry tone, or
threatening or accusing speech, let the alcoholic know that when they
drink you will not interact with them and you would like some
consideration from them to recognize this boundary of yours. And
thatís it. In fact, you donít even have to tell them what youíre
going to do if you donít want to.
The best way to react to the alcoholic when they
are drinking is to NOT to react. Take up some new hobbies and crafts,
stay busy, make new friends, join Alanon, and continue living your life.
Donít let alcoholism steal another minute of your precious life!
you live with an alcoholic - Detach from an Alcoholic Spouse