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Living with an alcoholic spouse

Community Member

Hi all,

Where do I start...?

My wife and I have been together 17 years and in the last 6 she has sunken into the deepest depths of alcohol addiction.

Her disease has taken her to 5 stints in rehab, multiple trips to hospital due to injuries sustained from falling while drunk and multiple calls to police when she has gone missing.

We have 3 young kids who my wife can no longer care for due to her illness necessitating the need for them to go to before and after school care so I can continue to work as she is unable to.

She lies and steals continually to obtain alcohol and drinks up to 4 bottles of wine a day to the point of passing out. She is essentially non functioning.

Our relationship is in ruins. She knows she has a problem and she seeks help but comes out of rehab thinking she's fine and can have a couple of drinks. The cycle then continues.

If it weren't for the children my decision to leave would be easy...

One of the hardest things is I have bipolar, major depressive disorder and I come from a history of addiction myself which is a recipe for disaster.

In her defense I haven't been an easy person to live with. Until I was recently diagnosed with bipolar I was very unpredictable and she also has PTSD due to miscarriages and my history of self harm and my 2 suicide attempts.

When my wife goes away to rehab though I feel I'm a better person and a better father. It's like she is out of sight out of mind...

Of course with kids, mortgages, finances all tied together it makes decision making so much harder.

I'm at a complete loss. I still love her but at the same time hate her as she is destroying her family.

I'm starting to feel immense hatred and resentment toward her and the poor kids are starting to sense that as well...

I just don't know what to do.

4 Replies 4


Hi 73Superbird,

Thank you for sharing this here. It sounds incredibly difficult. We can hear you’re a really supportive partner and you’re taking care of both her and the children while she goes through this. We hope you can find some comfort and understanding on the forums, where other community members may be able to relate to what you’re going through.

Recovery can be a difficult journey, and it’s important that you are able to reach out. Do either of you currently have any support with these issues, or someone you feel you can talk to about this? Remember, you can both always reach out to Beyond Blue or Lifeline. You can also both reach out to Counselling Online, who support people suffering from addiction, or supporting others through addiction and substance abuse. You can find the number for your state or territory here, and they also have some helpful information pages, such as this one on helping yourself while supporting others.  

We think it’s really important more support is there. You can call our lovely counsellors or speak to your GP to find out about getting some more support. Please remember that if either of you feel unsafe at any point, the number to call is 000.

It’s so important, that while caring for your partner, you are aware of your own emotional wellbeing. Please remember to reach out any time you feel you are struggling, to the Beyond Blue helpline on 1300 22 4636, or to our friends at Carers Australia on 1800 242 636.

Thank you again for sharing here, we hope it helps you to hear from and share with people who understand what you’re going through. Please share more, and keep us updated whenever you feel comfortable to do so. We’re sure others on this thread will appreciate it as much as we do, and will share in kind their advice, understanding and appreciation.

Kind regards,

Sophie M

Community Member


Wow! This sounds so so awful. Honestly, I'm having trouble with drinking too, I think it became a coping mechanism as I feel so stressed and overwhelmed basically all day every day. The pressures that life and social media put on us mothers is insane, however I have caught it early and am working on it. I do 110% feel for both you and your wife. She must feel absolutely rubbish to get to that point but is turning to the wrong places for help.

It almost sounds like you have made up your mind. If she is making you feel resentment and in turn is giving the kids a negative experience maybe it is best to walk... hopefully it would be the push she needs to get clean once and for all. However I guess you have to be prepared it may go the other way and she spirals.

It sounds so draining. Are the kids aware of what's happening?

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Superbird, I've read your comment with great concern as I once used alcohol as a tool to try and cope with my depression but eventually ended up in divorce, and understand the position you're in.

People go to rehab for many reasons, one is for alcohol and seem to accept his period without having a drink, but as soon as they come out, they may be offered a drink by someoneby sayin 'just have one it won't hurt' and as soon as this happens the temptation to continue just keeps going.

Many people can't even have one drink and need to abstain entirely and have seen many people caught up in this situation and being admitted 5 times is not good, I'm sorry to say.

It's possible to still love someone like this but it's not how you loved them when you first met and ' resentment toward her' starts to begin.

I want to continue this with you, but you now need to start looking after your kids as well as for yourself and let all of this pressure you're struggling with, go.

If you can please get back to us that would be terrific, I know the situation you're in and want to help you.

My best.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi 73Superbird

Your post is so honest and heartbreaking at the same time. I feel for you so much as you face so many challenges. With a dozen or so challenges all rolled into one, I can imagine things have become highly triggering and extremely exhausting.

I'm wondering whether when your wife goes into rehab they're simply addressing the addiction and not the possible underlying reasons for the addiction. Kind of like...if alcohol acts as a bandaid, when the bandaid's taken away and she experiences her wounds, is she led back to applying the bandaid again. A reliance on bandaids as opposed to healing wounds can produce such repeat behaviours.

As a 51yo mum of 2 and wife, I was a drinker throughout my years in depression. I drank throughout my 20s and into my early 30s, up until my eldest turned 3. I know what kind of drinker I am. I'm a binge drinker who can't stop at one. This is one of the reasons I rarely drink these days. I found that binge drinking not only leads to deep regret (which fuels depression terribly), it also leads to seriously destructive chemistry that comes with depression. So it's a mind and body thing. Mix the chemistry in alcohol with the chemistry in the body and it's a recipe or a cocktail for disaster. Within depression, I relied on alcohol to change my mind (the way I processed depressing things). Outside of depression, I find alcohol gets in the way of my mindset and my emotions.

Superbird, I appreciate your honesty when it comes the part you may have played in her depression. My husband isn't so honest with himself. At times, he refuses to acknowledge the part he played in my years in depression. I think this is because I was experiencing depression when we first met. So it was kind of like it being a fault in me. I've found over the years - if we're sensitive to feeling so much, we'll feel the depressing trials of others, we'll feel elements of neglect in regard to our emotions and we'll feel our experiences so deeply at times. There's so much to feel when you're sensitive. Alcohol can help numb the ability to feel so much. My heart goes out to your wife regarding the miscarriages. I experienced 2 myself, many years ago. The overwhelming grief can only be felt by those who can relate. It is a terrible grief and so misunderstood. While people may tell you to move on with life, based on you losing something they can't see, you can be left feeling so much, alone. There can be an incredible loneliness when it comes to miscarriage.