It can be very difficult when living with an alcoholic. You never know what to expect from one moment to the next. If you are married to an alcoholic then you need to set boundaries for your personal self. You NEED to take care of you now. You do not have to allow the alcoholics verbal abuses to take control of your emotions another minute longer!
We’ve all heard the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. Well, this is pretty much what it’s like when living with a verbally abusive alcoholic. Learn to not let “the names” hurt you by emotionally detaching. You should never allow the alcoholic behavior control how you will behave because by doing this it shows that you are controlled by alcoholism just as much as the alcoholic is.
Love the Alcoholic But Detach From the Alcoholism
Loving an alcoholic is different then loving the behaviors of alcoholism. For instance, the wife of an alcoholic husband still has duties as his wife, therefore as difficult as it may seem sometimes we still need to cook our husband’s dinner, whether they are alcoholic or not. But this does not mean to serve alcohol with dinner or to sit down with and interact with the alcoholic as they start to drink.
Sitting down with and interacting with your loved one as they drink themselves to oblivion is enabling them because it shows him or her that you are accepting their drinking behavior. A husband or wife should never sit down with, argue and fuss with, scream and holler at, or chitchat with a drinking alcoholic. This only confirms in the alcoholic that their drinking and abusive behavior is acceptable.
A wife or husband needs to be discerning and know when to show a support of love to the alcoholic and when they should emotionally detach. To know the difference ask yourself this question: Is there anything that I am doing that would help my husband/wife to drink? TIP: Once your spouse starts drinking for the day, just about anything you do or say can be misconstrued or manipulated by the alcoholic so it is best NOT to interact with them.
Prepare a “Self Preservation” Retreat
Learning to emotionally detach from the alcoholic is not always easy, this is why it is ideal to prepare a “self preservation” retreat that you can hold up in while the alcoholic is left to himself to drink. The truth is most spouses of alcoholics are just as emotionally and spiritually sick as the alcoholic just because of all the abusive garbage they take in every single time the alcoholic drinks. It’s now time to take care of you and let the alcoholic be responsible for their problem.
In many cases loved ones of alcoholics will need to physically detach from the abuse just because the alcoholic behavior is too difficult to ignore and this is “why” you have a self-preservation retreat set up in your home. If you do not have a spare bedroom or basement, use the master bedroom and have the alcoholic sleep on the couch or hide abed. This does not mean you will never be intimate with or have sex with your spouse but being intimate and having sex with the alcoholic should always be done when they are NOT drinking anyway, or you will only be enabling their addiction once again.
If you have small children in the home, this retreat should also accommodate them as well. Ideally this room should have toys, paper, coloring books, crayons, snacks, small refrigerator, drinks, laptop, cell phone, TV, books, magazines, and a bathroom. It should be set up in such a way that you would not have to leave this room and confront the alcoholic drinking in other parts of the home.
If the alcoholic does not stay away from you while he or she is drinking then it is a good idea to record their verbal abuse for several nights in a row. Then the next day play back the recording and let them hear themselves. Nicely, but assertively let them know that it is this verbal and emotional abuse that you are detaching from and they need to respect your requirements and not trespass against your spirit and mind while they are drinking.
Let them know: If they are drinking, you will go to your retreat for the night. If they want to stay sober you will be more than happy to sit with them in the living room and watch a movie. Let your spouse know that you love them but you are not going to get caught in the alcoholic trap with them. You need to take care of your spiritual and emotional well-being and that won’t happen if you are a target to a verbally abusive alcoholic. And that’s it. Email me if you have any questions.
Stop taking responsibility. Spouses need to stop rescuing the alcoholic and start taking care of their own spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Don’t let alcoholism anger, or stress you out another day! Take care of YOU!