When we say our vows, we promise to love our partner in sickness and in health. Often, when we think of our spouse being unwell, we think of chronic diseases like osteoporosis, not alcoholism. However, in the US, alcoholism is one of the most common health problems with one in 12 adults being addicted to alcohol.


Alcoholism is a disease that comes with a lot of stigmatism attached to it, which can make helping your spouse even more challenging. The problem is that alcoholism is a disease that changes who your partner is as a person. Many people think that excessive drinking is something that can be beaten simply by taking away your partner’s alcohol supply. However, that’s not the case. There’s a lot more to dealing with an alcoholic spouse than getting them to quit the drink.


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Knowing how to broach the subject of their drinking with your spouse is difficult, as is getting them to listen to why they need help. There’s a lot more to beating alcoholism than meets the eye, and it’s important to understand that. To help your spouse beat their addiction once and for all, here’s what you need to do:


Explain why you’re concerned


It’s important to choose the right time to do this, but sitting them down for a chat is crucial. Whatever you do, don’t do this while they’re still drunk. Trying to talk to someone who’s under the influence is like talking to a brick wall. Wait until they’re sober enough to take what you’re saying seriously and have a proper conversation about it.


The chances are you’ll be nervous before talking to your spouse but do your best to stay calm and cool. You might not like having to say it to them, but if you want to help them, you need to tell them that their drinking is getting out of control. Be prepared for them to be defensive but whatever you do, don’t argue back. This will put their guard up even more and will make it almost impossible to get them to open up.


Be kind and caring


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It’s easy to think that taking a ‘bad cop’ approach to your partner’s excessive drinking is a good idea, but it’s not. The most important thing is to show them that you care about them and are worried, not that you’re angry. Aim to be kind and caring, regardless of how you actually feel towards them.


It’s important to remember that alcoholism is a disease and that it’s not the person’s fault. Yes, they’re physically drinking but it’s not a conscious choice they’re making. Think about it this way, just like heart disease and cancer, alcoholism is a nasty illness. You wouldn’t yell at a patient of any other illness for getting sick, would you? So you shouldn’t get annoyed at your partner for being an alcoholic because it’s not their fault.


Encourage them to seek help


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Once you’ve told your spouse that you’re worried about them, the next step is to encourage them to get help. If you don’t know how to go about this, make sure to have a read of Beachway's step by step process to seeking help. This will explain all the best ways you can encourage your partner to seek help and beat their addiction.


It’s important to explain to your spouse that the only way they can beat their illness is by getting help. The chances are they’re scared of what getting help will mean, such as long stints in rehab away from you and your children. Tell them that today, alcohol addiction can be treated in many ways. Explain that this means they may not need to stay in a residential facility. Instead, they may be able to undergo outpatient treatment.


Explain how their behaviour is affecting other people


If they’re still not keen on getting help, you need to tell them how their behaviour is affecting others. This is important, as often, alcoholics don’t think past their drinking and how it can affect their loved ones. Be open and honest with them and explain how their alcoholism is affecting you and the rest of the family.


If, for example, they often come home drunk, shout at you and scare the children, you need to tell them. Explain that whenever they get drunk they become aggressive, and upset you and your little ones, but then never remember it the next day. Be open and honest with them, don’t try to shield them from their behaviour.


Dealing with a spouse who’s an alcoholic is never going to be easy but by following the tips above you can make it easier to deal with.


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