Alcoholism is a health issue and a social problem that affects close family members psychologically, physically, and socially. Spouses, particularly wives of alcoholics, are affected the most, according to recent research.
When a single family member struggles with alcoholism, it can disrupt the harmony and relationships of every family member. Living with an alcoholic spouse has such an impact that it can break apart a family and result in feelings of:
All members of the family, but particularly spouses, can undergo intense stress and trauma dealing with the side effects of alcoholism in their spouse. It can often result in financial strain, social problems, emotional issues, and high levels of anxiety and depression.
Emotional Effects of Living with an Alcoholic Spouse
The most commonly reported effects of living with an alcoholic partner involve emotional problems.
People living with an alcoholic spouse struggle the most with emotional problems like:
- Severe anxiety over the drinking problems of your spouse
- Mental health issues like depression
- Negative emotions like frustration, desperation, fear, guilt, anger, or nervousness
- Low self-esteem, reduced quality of life, and problems finding satisfaction in a relationship
Those who are living with an alcoholic partner have to contend with cycles of emotional ups and downs. These cycles can involve desperation when trying to manage family finances in spite of the fact that a partner is spending more money than they should on alcohol. They can include shame when a partner does something embarrassing in public while under the influence.
They can also include feelings of isolation, especially when a once loving partner doesn’t show concern for your well-being, doesn’t share in the same interests you once loved, isn’t functioning to the same capacity sexually, and otherwise ignores aspects of intimacy and emotional connection that were once important in your relationship.
Spouses who have children might live in fear that their children will see their parents behaving poorly or be angry at something that an alcoholic partner did in front of the family. It can be fear that the problem will get worse, fear that a spouse will lose their job, anger that a spouse won’t get help, or concern that the current stress levels might break the family apart.
Physical Effects of Living with an Alcoholic Partner
Living with an alcoholic spouse can result in physical side effects or physical issues such as cleaning up after a spouse who has passed out, a spouse who has vomited, or a spouse who has left a mess during a binge.
Physical problems can affect the spouse as well, who is living with an alcoholic partner in the form of not getting enough sleep because they are too busy caring for their spouse or compensating for the unfulfilled family roles.
Note: The physical effects of living with an alcoholic partner, in their worst form, include domestic violence. If you are experiencing physical violence within the home, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline online, or call 800.799.SAFE (7233) or text START to 88788.
Social Effects of Living with an Alcoholic Spouse
Living with an alcoholic spouse can cause social problems, especially when you have to attend business functions, when you meet with family, or when you want to go out with friends. These problems can take many forms, such as:
- Your partner drinking too much and causing a scene
- Your partner drinking noticeably more than everyone else
- Your partner becoming inebriated to the point that they can’t support themselves
- Friends and family asking questions about your situation
- Friends or family are concerned about inviting you over with your spouse because of alcohol consumption, especially if children are present
- You have to choose not to attend social outings because you are busy cleaning up after an alcoholic partner
When a spouse is struggling with alcoholism, they are more likely to ignore the needs or dynamics of other family members. They are less likely to contribute on equal footing or fulfill personal responsibilities. In these situations, it’s all too common for the other spouse who is living with an alcoholic partner to find themselves responsible for every aspect of the home, the family, and the relationship.
Getting Help with Peninsula Health Center
If you are struggling with the effects of living with an alcoholic spouse, you can reach out to Peninsula Health Center for resources and support. Peninsula Health Center provides a range of outpatient services. Individuals struggling with alcoholism can benefit from our alcohol detox program and flexible PHP or IOP therapy.
We provide individual and group therapy as part of our recovery services, which means as the spouse of an alcoholic, you can attend things like family therapy sessions where you can learn more about how alcoholism works, how you can communicate with your spouse effectively, and support them during recovery.
Call us today at 1-866-934-8228 to learn more about how to find treatment for alcoholism.