Living with a husband who has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) is similar to dealing with infidelity. Except, there’s no other woman. Your spouse is in a relationship with alcohol. And alcoholism is usually just the tip of the iceberg. While alcohol addiction is the underlying problem, it rides atop a submerged mass of other issues.
Alcoholism is often seen as a family disease because it doesn’t only affect the addict. It negatively affects the addict’s loved ones through changes in their behavior, personalities, and mental health. Once a spouse falls into the deep waters of addiction, it creates a domino effect, knocking down one person at a time. As a dedicated Christian, it’s important to keep Christ at the center of your life. Dealing with your spouse’s disease can be unbearable at times. Have faith, and know that you can be a pivotal part of your husband’s addiction recovery and encourage him to go to a men’s treatment center. Here are five ways to start the process:
1. Raise Awareness of Alcohol Dependence
Perhaps you grew up with judgemental opinions toward substance abusers. Now that you’re married to one, you may feel you need to eat a piece of humble pie, and then be a friend to other women dealing with the same thing. You truly don’t understand what it’s like unless you’re in the trenches yourself.
One of the most useful things you can do amid the chaos of an alcoholism spiral in your household is educate yourself on the disease. There’s a lot to learn and we’re lucky to have a mountain of resources, research and alcohol treatment centers at our disposal. Knowledge is power and gaining a better understanding of your husband’s struggles puts you in a better position to empathize, love, and help him. You may also benefit from seeking out other people’s experiences and journey to recovery. Family therapy can be a useful first step in healing your family and tackling your spouse’s alcohol addiction and subsequent health issues.
2. Love the Person While hating the Illness
Resent the disease, not your spouse. This can be hard. It may seem near impossible sometimes not to feel hatred and anger toward your husband. Remember, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (Bible, Psalms 86:15). The Lord forgives, and we can forgive too. Addiction comes from Satan, but our almighty Lord is more powerful and He will never turn His back on us. Through your research, you know that substance abuse causes behaviors that are not true to who your spouse is.
Resenting the illness instead of your husband shows unwavering strength and allows you to have compassion. It’s OK to have anger and hatred, just channel it toward the disease. Additional negative energy toward your spouse can send them deeper into their addiction.
3. Avoid Conflict
You know more than anyone the argumentative state of a drunk person. In addition, a person with AUD often feels guilt that triggers defensiveness and belligerence. While their words are hurtful, it’s important to remember that engaging in a name-calling battle will do no good. Your spouse may even use your arguments as an excuse to drink. The addiction will use any little thing as fuel. Rise above pettiness. Protect your self-confidence and avoid a dependency cycle.
We know avoiding fights can be challenging. In times when it seems impossible, meditate on this scripture, “[W]hatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
4. Conduct an Intervention
Confrontation might be your biggest fear, but in many cases an intervention is necessary. Come with a list of faith-based treatment centers, their most trusted family and friends, and all the love in your heart. Ask each friend and family member to prepare a letter to read to your husband, explaining how much they love and care about him and why they feel he should go to a substance abuse center.
Make sure to approach the intervention with calmness, compassion, and love. This is not the place for harshness, aggression, and toughness. He is much more likely to respond to a soft, understanding, and loving approach. If your husband shows willingness, you can share your list of Christian-based rehabilitation centers, including inpatient and outpatient options depending on your husband’s situation.
5. Pray for Your Family
In Matthew 21:22 it says, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Pray for your husband. Pray for your whole family. Pray for yourself. Council with the Lord for peace, comfort, and guidance. When making a hard decision, pray to the Lord to ask for confirmation. Never stop believing in the power of prayer. When you’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and confusion, kneel down and pray from your heart.
All of these things are much easier said than done. Dealing with alcoholism in a spouse is heart-wrenching, debilitating, and devastating. Don’t sit in silence and sadness any longer. Do what you can to get your husband the assistance he needs.
For more information on recovery options, call us at 855-736-7262.