This article was written and published by Holdfast Recovery
People say that alcoholism is a family disease. This is because the disruptions to the addict’s life due to heavy drinking always have repercussions for the family members, loved ones, and people closest to them. Changes in their personality, behavioral and mental health can make them more argumentative and unkind, especially when they’re inebriated. And although there are high-functioning alcoholics who can maintain career responsibilities, for many, job performance may decline to the point where they stop working entirely. They may even lose touch with their faith. All of these scenarios can be extremely challenging, especially for you as their wife.
While it may feel like everything is spiraling out of control, remember that addiction is treatable. Too many couples suffer in silence, afraid of judgment, and embarrassed to admit that there’s an alcohol problem. The best thing a Christian wife dealing with her alcoholic husband can do is find solace in her community, get counseling for herself, and encourage her husband to seek professional help to stop drinking. While the latter is easier said than done, there are steps you can take to work towards it.
Educate Yourself About Alcohol Addiction
It’s easy to fall back on the understanding you’ve always had of alcoholism or recall outdated opinions about it. To get yourself in a stronger position to help your husband, you’ll need to become an expert on alcohol use disorder and the potential health problems it causes. Find out about the diagnostic criteria, and seek out other people’s experiences with an alcoholic partner. You can call a helpline or attend support group meetings like Al-Anon to better understand the illness and share your experience with someone else. Family therapy is often helpful as well when addressing your spouse’s drinking habits and subsequent health issues. You’ll see patterns that repeat with the condition. This can help you stop taking his actions to heart and, instead, see them as part of his drinking problem, which will also help you maintain your own health and well being.
Love the Person and Resent the Disease
Remember, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15) The Lord forgives, and you can, too. Overwhelming attachments to anything other than God can make a person lose some element of their will and initiative. Addiction causes behaviors that you can learn to understand are separate from the person; otherwise, you may take his problem personally.
Learning to resent the illness and not the man allows you to be more compassionate toward your husband. You can despise and feel angry with the disease while staying strong in love. Those who are living with alcohol abuse are usually hypersensitive. Negative sentiments can send them further into the pain that causes them to drink in the first place. The healthiest way for you to unload your negative feelings is to confide in a trusted clergyman or a substance abuse counselor.
When someone is drunk, they are much more prone to get into an argument. Not only that; the guilt an alcoholic feels often leads them to get defensive and belligerent. While their words can hurt, getting into name-calling battles will only serve to make you both more miserable. Sadly, fights can be used as an excuse by your alcoholic spouse to continue his drinking patterns. When you rise above his petty behavior, you are protecting your self-esteem and avoiding the cycle of dependency.
When you’re finding it hard, meditate on these words, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Prayer can also help you find the answer to staying calm and positive in difficult times.
Stage an Intervention
In many cases, the way to convince an alcoholic to seek addiction treatment is by staging an intervention. As his wife, you’re best placed to bring together all the people he trusts and loves. Ask them to read him a letter explaining how much they care about him and why they want him to go to Christian drug rehab. When confronted with compassion, understanding, and love, he is much more likely to be responsive and make an effort. If responsive, you can then share treatment options, which may include inpatient or outpatient rehab and detox depending on the severity of your husband’s drinking.