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Living with an alcoholic partner

Haurice
Community Member

Hi, this is my first post.

My partner is an alcoholic. While she’s always had issues with drinking, they’ve become overwhelming and all pervasive in the last four or five years. She drinks to get drunk every day and I’m just devastated.

When she drinks we can’t communicate at all. The only thing that matters to her is making sure she has enough alcohol. It makes her depressed, angry and argumentative, and I’m the one who wears it, night after night.

She only rarely hides her drinking from me, but she does hide it from everyone else. I’ve confided to a close friend, but other than that I don’t think anybody knows - maybe her workplace has guessed, but it hasn’t been raised with her. It makes me feel so alone and isolated. This is the main reason I’ve come to this forum - I don’t want to be the only one carrying this knowledge and stress.

My other purpose is to seek advice. She doesn’t want to stop and is currently at the stage of believing it gives her an escape from a life she is dissatisfied with. I feel like I’ve tried everything to help her but she doesn’t want to stop.

The burden on me is huge. We both work full time, but after work she just sits around drinking and getting more and more depressed and angry, while I do everything else for the household - cooking, dishes, walking the dog, laundry etc etc.

I guess I’m just at a loss for what to do. My mental health is starting to suffer now too. I love her as much as ever, but I’m also angry and frustrated.

I’d love to hear from people in similar situations. How do you cope? How do you look after your loved one, while still looking after yourself?

28 Replies 28

Nurse_Jenn
Community Member

Hi Haurice,

Welcome to the forum. It is so great to see you here and reaching out to get some support. By sharing on the forum you share the stress of what you are going through and I hope you gain some much need relief by being here. You are not alone.

I am sorry that you have been feeling so stressed and isolated and that your own mental health is suffering. This must be so difficult especially as no one else really knows of your partners drinking. It is frustrating to witness people you love do things detrimental to their health, like drinking. It is hard to know what to do, especially when they are not yet ready to address their drinking habits. What I generally recommend to people is to get support for just you (for now). By making decisions for yourself you can build capacity in your own mental health and well-being. By seeking some counselling or support yourself, you will be stronger and better able to support your partner.

Support can come in many ways including with other peers on the forum, but I also wanted to make you aware of a support structure across Australia (and the world) called Al-Anon. You may have heard of it already? But if not, I the website is linked here https://www.al-anon.org.au

For your convenience, a summary of what they are all about is below...

AL-ANON'S PURPOSE:
To help families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with someone whose drinking is a problem.
Similarly, Alateen is our recovery program for young people. Alateen groups are sponsored by Al-Anon members. Alateen provides support for teenagers affected by the problem drinking of a parent or other family member.
Our program of recovery is adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous and is based on the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, and the Twelve Concepts of Service. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend. Al-Anon/Alateen is not affiliated with any other organisation or outside entity.

Another option to gain support could be starting with your GP. Sometimes having a conversation with a health professional can get you started on your own healing journey.

We are listening and I look forward to hearing more about your story.

Wishing you the best possible outcome,

Nurse Jenn

Hi Nurse Jenn

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post. It’s a relief just to be heard.

I appreciate you providing the Al-Anon details. I’m already aware of their family support groups, and had previously considered attending one near(ish) to where I live. What’s held me back is the question of how or what I tell my partner. I’m scared of telling her I am getting support for me to deal with her drinking, when she is in denial about the problem.

I can and will get in touch with a counsellor though. Even if this is just telephone counselling, I can see I need it and it will help.

It’s painful to see a loved one doing so much damage to themselves. My concern and disappointment is so apparent to her, although she perceives it as me being judgmental. I can understand why she feels that way - I am clearly disappointed whenever she drinks. I don’t want her to feel like I’m disappointed in her as a person, but that must be how it feels to her. I just wish she would stop drinking.

I appreciate your advice to focus on my own mental health. For so long I have been telling myself that the only thing that matters is for my partner to stop drinking. That train of thought has been quite damaging for me because it means I am discounting any good things in my life by telling myself they don’t matter while the drinking is still happening. Not a useful pattern of thought!

Thanks again Nurse Jenn

Hello Haurice

Nurse Jenn is a legend on the forums and has been super helpful in her post above

I just wanted to mention that I have been through the same when I was in my 30's with my girlfriend and it was awful....She would have one or two drinks and then her temper would fire up and just in my situation I was put in hospital as a result...It was bad

Back in the 1990's I was more concerned about her alcoholism that my own well being as well. I didnt think about my own health

Your mental health is paramount Haurice....all other considerations are secondary

my kind thoughts

Paul

Haurice
Community Member

Thanks blondguy

I’m sorry to hear you have been through a similar situation, but at the same time it is helpful to hear I am not alone.

I appreciate the advice to prioritise my mental health first and foremost. I will do that. I’m trying to focus on the things I can control - i.e. myself, my reactions, my health. Of course it’s not easy when confronted with an angry drunk person. I’ve got a long way to go.

Thanks again. I am grateful for the support.

Hi, welcome

My ex partner of 10 years slowly became an alcoholic over that period and while there was other complications like her step parent status to my daughters that led to our demise,her drinking was the catalyst. Also, she, like your wife, was aggressive and violent,resentful and helpless.

What concerns me with yourself is your fear of her. That fear has polarized you, damned if you do nothing and damned if you do. I suggest this situation won’t continue forever, something will cause a climax... better to deal with it now even if the risk of violence is high.

With my ex I tried to draw a definite lines in the sand. I’d wear some face slapping then told her it “will not happen again”!!! My teenage daughters were threatened- same line and the yelling and swearing I also drew a line however nothing worked. Her adult daughter insisted she limit herself to two drinks a night, that lasted one week.

Yes Im pessimistic about your future and living in fear issues bind that is traumatic and why you’ve come here. But doing anything will dissatisfy her and you’re allowing your own rights to erode to become her outlet of aggression. This is an acceptable situation.

I echo the other contributors here that to help her you must help yourself. By not seeking help like joining AA you are enabling her inadvertently.

all the best

TonyWK

Hey Haurice

you reminded me of what its like in our situation when you said " it’s not easy when confronted with an angry drunk person" It can be an ugly place to be in Haurice as our partner doesnt understand we are trying to help and provide support

I was really scared of my ex when she was in this state.

Can I ask if your partner would agree to a joint counseling appointment?

just a thought if thats okay

Paul

Haurice
Community Member

Thank you white knight and blondguy for your kind comments.

Just to clarify, I don’t have fear for my physical safety and my partner is not physically violent. I do fear her emotional reactions though.

As others have suggested, I have reached out to a counsellor (just for myself at this stage), and will see how that goes. I’m not sure this counsellor is the right person, but will persevere for a second conversation with him before deciding if I should try someone else.

I’m also starting yoga tonight because I wanted to do something for myself.

Cheers

Blackboy
Community Member

Hello Haurice! I have a similar problem with my wife, and I see we have met on my own thread where people have offered suggestions. A big problem is if your wife will not admit she has an issue. If she would admit that, then she would probably agree to go to a counsellor or psychologist or psychiatrist. They might be able to help, at least by identifying what the cause of her drinking is. Another option is a detox clinic or a rehab centre. They haven't worked for my wife, but they do work for some people and perhaps she could give it a try.

If she won't admit the problem, perhaps a friend or family member might be more persuasive than you are. I mean, there can be an issue about taking the advice of someone who is very close and therefore (in her eyes) not objective. But a friend, family member etc might have more effect. Or a GP perhaps.

Good luck, and I shall try to think of more approaches that could be helpful, based on my own experience.

Cheers

Echoes
Community Member
I feel your pain and have been through the same situation. My wife drank a bottle of Vodka a day for at least 3 years after choosing to not work and drink full time. Over our decade of our relationship I gradually took on all of the household duties and responsibilities. I supported her through inpatient rehab of her choice across the country, AA, counselling, countless medical appointments to try and work out why she drinks while I worked and held things together. She went through a few psychiatrists after being given advice she didn't ageee with. Even after going through the whole addiction program in the private health clinics she was back on the Vodka within days of coming home on every occasion which was devastating. There was no reason for her to drink. She came from a good family, well educated, financially sound and physically attractive. She seemed to have it all. The conclusion was she drank in her 30s like she was in her 20s. She drank too much for too long. It started on white wine and progressed to straight Vodka. What I will never forget was a psychiatrist telling her she didn't believe she wanted to stop drinking which my wife agreed with. I then realised my efforts and support were defeated before it started. I have decided to tell my family, my work and friends my situation which although embarrassing is a weight off my shoulders. I like you could feel my own mental health suffer and left her to save myself. I am now getting my own counselling which is helping. I have bouts of sadness thinking about it but they are becoming less frequent. I understand your emotions and I feel guilt for leaving my wife even though she was horrible to me when drunk which was all the time. It helps me with my decision to leave to think that it is in a way still supporting her by making the toughest decision in my life I have given her another chance to get better. I will never go back to her even though she sends me emails expecting me to come back. I think you need to focus on yourself and meeting your own needs instead of your partners. It's hard because you care for her but she is not reciprocating it and that is not fair on you. You are definitely not alone and your post reads like my life. I had to leave as things deteriorated to a point where I could not go on living with her. You have my greatest admiration and empathy.