Alcoholism is a disease that affects the entire family. Often, spouses of alcoholics feel isolated and alone. They don’t know how to reach out to their loved one or how to motivate them to get the help they need.
In the end, we all know that an alcoholic cannot recover if he or she is not willing to take those first steps. However, we also know that recovery is more likely with a strong and healthy support system.
Just as honesty is the first step in battling alcoholism; it is also the first step in helping alcoholics realize that they have problems. Loved ones often try to hide the truth from themselves and others. This denial can only cause the problem to become more severe. A spouse must face the facts that alcoholism is a life-altering disease that can be confronted and overcome.
The fact that alcoholism is a true disease is difficult to understand for those who are not affected by it. Addicts crave the substance they are addicted to just as others crave air or water. Most alcoholics want to stop, but many do not know how.
One of the most important things that spouses must remember is to recognize the disease without blaming the alcoholic him- or herself. When faced with alcoholism, laying blame is rarely effective and can only add more stress to the marriage.
Both the alcoholic and his or her family need professional counseling in order to cope with and overcome the disease. However, many alcoholics are reluctant to enter into counseling.
Even once they are able to admit that they have a problem, they often believe that they can stop drinking on their own without outside intervention. This is seldom a successful venture. Spouses can help by remaining calm and sharing information about the benefits of counseling.
Gather statistics about success rates of counseling. Be prepared to answer any questions that come up, such as the cost of counseling, whether insurance covers the fees, and what kind of time commitment the family can expect.
Life Goes On
Spouses of alcoholics often feel as though their lives are meant only to serve the well-being of the sufferer. As a spouse, one must realize that the marriage cannot be healthy if both members are completely encompassed by the alcoholism. Spouses should take time for themselves to enjoy life outside of alcohol and treatments.
Some find that doing things together, like taking classes or enjoying sports, are an excellent way to reconnect. Others believe that time apart is healthier for their relationship. One or two evenings each week can be devoted to getting a massage or working out. If possible, trying to spend time together and apart can be greatly beneficial.
In the end, it is true that the alcoholic cannot receive help until he or she is ready. Meanwhile, it is vital for spouses of alcoholics to remember that they are not to blame for this terrible disease.
They need to be there for their significant other, offering support and encouragement, but they also need to be there for themselves. While it can feel like an unfortunate burden, it is often up to the healthy party in the relationship to provide the stability needed to keep the marriage strong.