On any given morning, someone is waking up next to an alcoholic. Maybe you got into an argument with them the night before. Or maybe they got into an argument with you. Or maybe you both lost it. Or maybe you’re trying to get them to wake up, to help you with the kid. Or to get to work or school. If you are pondering over the question ” should I marry an alcoholic?” This is what will happen should you marry an alcoholic. If you are not ok with alcoholism marrying an alcoholic is a sure mistake.
But if you are already married to an alcoholic husband, you must be wondering “should I stay married to an alcoholic?
How long should you stay with an alcoholic if you’re in a relationship with them? And when is it time to leave an alcoholic husband?
How long should you stay with someone who has a problem with alcohol?
Below, David gives his advice, on a very important decision that you will need to make either today or sometime in the very near future if you are married to an alcoholic.
“Two years ago, my client walked into the office and threw her hands up in the air. “I mean what am I supposed to do David? We have four children, he doesn’t drink every day, but at least every week or two he’ll start and he just won’t stop until he passes out. Should I stay? Should I leave? What the hell should I do? It’s killing me and my children.“
So what would you do? Would you stay? Leave? When you have an alcoholic spouse ‘when to leave?’ is the question. The client above had been with her husband for 15 years. It wasn’t long after they started dating, that they both got into this “party attitude“, and every weekend was just a blast. Until it wasn’t. After a while, she got tired of waking up feeling slow. Maybe a little bit of a hangover. She just got tired of it.
He, on the other hand, never did. Then came one child, then another child, then another child and finally their final and fourth child came into this world. Through every birth, he was partying and celebrating. And the day after every birth he couldn’t be found. He was sleeping in some room or some hotel.
Like most men and women in this situation, my client had threatened him 1000 times.“ If you get drunk one more time I’m leaving. If you get drunk again you’re going to have to move out and stay away for several days. If you continue drinking at this level, I don’t care if it’s every two weeks, if you keep drinking at this level we are done.“ Threats, with nothing to back them up. They don’t work if you are married to an alcoholic. After all, how do you set boundaries with alcoholic husband who you have been married for so long?
The codependent in love sets boundaries without consequences
That’s the world of being a codependent in love and married to an alcoholic. The codependent in a relationship with an alcoholic sets boundaries, they nag, they bitch, they complain, with nothing to back up their nagging and complaining. It’s called boundaries without consequences. Here is the shocker that I shared with the above client, that she was not able to wrap her head around for four straight weeks of our sessions. “You have an addiction just as powerful as your husbands, it’s called codependency. You have just as serious as an addiction as he does. Alcoholism and marriage infused with codependency is a deadly combination where both the partners are unhappy but still want to stay stuck with each other.
They’re so used to bitching and complaining about their husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend “They are the real problem, they are the alcoholic I’m not.“ Yeah, as I tell these people over and over, the only way of staying with an alcoholic for 15 years is if you had an equal addiction. Being married to an alcoholic is not your biggest problem, you are. An independent, healthy woman, would maybe give someone they were dating who is an alcoholic six months. At the most a year before they would give an ultimatum. Even if the partner developed the alcoholic addiction post marriage, being married to an alcoholic for so long indicates that there is some problem with the other spouse too.
“You either quit drinking, sober up, and do it within the next 90 days or our relationship is over.“ And what would happen at the end of 90 days if you were an independent man or woman? My advice for the wife of an alcoholic is that you must follow through on your words. You leave. Now, if you have children, and you’re married, I would tell you to separate. I would tell you to ask the person who has the problem with alcohol, to leave the house for 90 days.
They could still see the kids, I still want interaction between the two partners, but the person who has the problem of alcoholism would have to leave for 90 days and enroll in a program with a professional counselor and or therapist.
What happens to the codependent?
What happens to the person who stays behind? The codependent? For the next 90 days, they would have to work their butt off with a professional as well, to get to their core of the addiction called codependency. The above client that I mentioned at the start of this article, never had the strength to lay down the law, and she tells her husband to leave until he got sober. She is still living in hell right now. On the other hand, let me tell you a great success story.
A few years ago another woman came in with the same problem and concern, she was married to an alcoholic. The big difference here? I got her and her husband to sign a contract, that stated, that if he drank one more time she would file for divorce. She had lined up a divorce attorney, I had all the paperwork prepared and showed him the prepared paperwork.
Not only did he sign the contract, and move out for 90 days, but he worked with me one on one five days a week during the 90-day separation and got completely sober. He moved back into the house a totally different man. His relationship with his wife and children improved. She, found out that she had shattered her addiction with codependency, her fear of his rejection, his criticism, and the end result was a saved the marriage.
You need to get professional help right away
If you’re dating, or married to an alcoholic, whether you have children or not you need to get into a professional right away. If you want to know how to stay married to an alcoholic professional help is essential. If the professional has a great background and training, they will tell you the very same thing I’m telling you right now: if you don’t set boundaries and consequences nothing will ever change. If you do not demand their sobriety, they will continue to drink for the rest of their lives. That’s the odds.
To become independent, when you’re a codependent man or woman who is enabling your partner to continue to drink, even though you hate it, that’s on your shoulders. Codependency is a brutal addiction to shatter, just like alcoholism. But it can happen. The odds of it happening by yourself is extremely tiny, but with the right professional, you can start to work on your codependency today and learn that you are worthy of being with someone that does not have an alcohol problem. If you are married to an alcoholic, with the right professional you can redeem yourself.
It’s up to you. But I wouldn’t waste time with someone that isn’t serious about getting sober. Love is not enough to save a relationship. You need common sense, and in this case, sobriety from both alcoholism and the Addiction called codependency, in order to get out of the chaos and drama and into a healthy relationship. If not now? When?
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by David Essel