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Living with an alcoholic partner

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

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Echoes, once again a post I can relate to, simply because I was the person who drank while I was depressed, that eventually caused our divorce after 25 years of being married.

Since that, 20 years ago, I only drank socially, now it's a month since I've had a drink, however, my ex and I talk regularly and see each other at our granddaughters birthdays etc, but we couldn't live together again, I'm 65 and enjoy living alone.

Best wishes.


Community Member

Echoes, thank you so much for your comment. I’m sorry your life has been affected by alcohol and I truly admire you for how you have dealt with your former partner’s drinking. You were brave and you did the right thing.

Your comment about your partner not wanting to stop drinking really struck me. I’m definitely relating that to my own situation. I think my partner would like to have a normal relationship with alcohol, but I don’t believe that’s possible for her ever again. She has no intention or wish to quit completely. She frequently attempts to just have one or two drinks, but as she nears the halfway point of her ‘last’ drink she starts to get visibly twitchy and agitated as she thinks about how she is going to have to find a way to get more alcohol. One or two drinks always becomes two bottles of wine.

Today she told me that she wouldn’t drink this week (“from tomorrow”). As she was saying it, she realised there was no way I would/could believe her. It was a sad moment for both of us. The number of times I have heard that kind of promise...

I value your advice. I need to focus more on myself and my needs. I’m lacking the bravery to do that properly, but your support and encouragement helps. Thank you again.

Hi Haurice

Thankyou for your understanding and empathy for other people that have posted to you above

You mentioned that you dont fear any physical harm yet do fear emotional pain which is the same. I remember the emotional abuse I received and it was awful to experience Haurice

You have reached out to a counsellor for yourself and good on you! You are strong by doing so. I wish I had your strength when going through the same in 1996 when I was 36

I wish you all the best for the new year in 2020 Haurice 🙂

my kind thoughts and respect......great to have you as a part of the Beyond Blue forums!


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Hi Haurice,

I'm in the same situation. My partner (on-again, off-again) is the same. She swings between recognises that she has a problem, and full-blown denial. When she's not drinking, she is kind and considerate. When she is, she's mean and hurtful, and blames anyone and everyone for her life not being perfect.

I read a really good article about enabling. It helped me to recognise that some of the things that I thought were helping were actually enabling, and learned that I needed to stop them. For example, when she wants more alcohol, and says that if I don't help her get it, she will leave. Taking away car keys so that she can't drive and potentially hurt her or someone else is helping. Going and getting alcohol for her or driving her to the shop is enabling. Even if the consequence is that she walks to the shop, and is at risk of harm. Making sure that she gets to work on time is enabling; she's capable of doing that for herself. Making excuses is enabling. Saving her from embarrassment is enabling.

Having said that...it's much easier said than done. I have done plenty of enabling. I second the thought of AlAnon and practicing self-care. Your needs are important too.

Link to the article I mentioned;


I hope this helps. You are not alone in this situation.

Community Member
Hello Haurice, I understand how you feel because my husband is a functioning alcoholic. We are both 54 and have been together since we were 21. He has always been a big drinker but it has gotten worse as years go by. Because he works he does not see that he has a problem but I think 20 stubbies per night is just a bit too much. He used to get violent because I nagged him about it but now I just retreat to my office at home and watch crap on youtube to distract myself from the fact my life has turned to shit. The belligerence is still in him but I have learned for my own self preservation to just stay out of his way. My friends no longer invite us to social occasions because of his behavior. He never wants to go anywhere with me and if we do he is rotten before we even leave the house. My brother is in the same boat as you. His partner lost her son in a horrible car accident 3 years ago and she has become very violent towards him and drinks at home all day while in charge of caring for their one and four year old daughters. I hope you find a better way through life soon, just as I hope my brother and I can have some peace on day. One thing that made us fall into the traps we are now stuck it that our own father was a violent drunk who beat our mother. My father in law is also a drunk. We sort of thought this was a normal life until we realised not everyone puts up with this bad behavior. Please put yourself first and do not end up like me. The best years of my life are gone. I am too old to start again and to poor to move away so I am stuck. Run and find yourself some happiness

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member
Gosh Scat, sounds like my life. My partner is an alcoholic and like u said because he works as a tradie he feels he's entitled to 20beers after work!!! Sometimes I just go sleep in spare room, others I get abusive to him because I'm so stressed and frustrated and sometimes he gets abusive to me. And when I'm lying in bed alone I fantasize about packing my belongings and moving interstate to start a new life. It's so hard because his actions are completely out of my control. And I love him dearly but not when he's drunk... It's a disease, an illness and we can't make them see what the alcohol is destroying.. Alcohol is so acceptable in our society so I believe it's a harder addiction to fight. I just worry about myself now and when the times right everything will work out for the best.

Community Member

Hi Lu Luck!

Your post so resonated with me! Luck your partner, my husband is a functioning alcoholic. He works all week as a bus driver, but because he has his own breath tester, he knows exactly how much he can drink each night to still be able to go to work next morning. Weekends are a nightmare for me. He starts binging on Friday afternoon and is drunk till Sunday afternoon. We can't go anywhere. We have no social life. We have no friends. Family don't even visit us. Luckily I have a group a supportive friends who have given me shelter many times (he hasn't become violent with me YET, but I'm always afraid he will..., so I just get out of the way till Monday). He does have terrible, violent rages, where he screams and shouts and threatens everybody (including his mother, who while he is sober, he adores!). This is his, and my, third marriage. We have been married 22 years, but once again, I fear I have chosen the wrong person. I'm too old now to start again (69), and in any case, I'm not willing to lose everything I've worked all my life for in a divorce. I can't count the number of times I've decided to leave him; gone away for days at a time, etc, but then I realise what I will have to give up (esp. financially) and I end up going back. He always knows I will and just treats it like a joke!

Tonight I waited till he was asleep and then hunted till I found his stash of whisky and poured it down the drain. Now I'm frightened, as last week I did that and when he discovered it, he threw my mobile phone out the door and smashed it.

Don't suggest talking to the GP. I did that once and the doctor wasn't interested. He just said "What do you expect me to do about it??". It's got to the point where we're leading separate lives: I can't bear to be around him on weekends, so I just go out each day, all day. The constant stress is starting to tell on my health.


Hi Annie803,

We're so grateful that you have reached out to our community today, we know that it is not an easy thing to do and you have shown a lot of strength in sharing your story. We're also really sorry to hear how overwhelming things are feeling at the moment. But please know that you've come to a safe, non-judgemental space to express youself, and our wonderful community is here to provide you with as much support, advice and conversation as you need. We're also currently getting in touch with you via email to check in with you and provide you with some additional supports.

We hope that you keep checking back in with us to let us know how you're going, whenever you feel up to it.  

Community Member
If I did not know better I would have believed I wrote that article. It’s my life to a tee 🙁

Community Member
Oh Lu Luck I am so sorry I didn't come back sooner to see this. How are you going now? I got into cat rescue a few years ago with a local charity so I really will end up a crazy old cat lady. Honestly there are days that the 6 cats who live with me are the only reason I stay alive. My husband hates them and becomes extremely belligerent after a skinful so I have to work really hard to make sure the house is spotless because if he sees fur on the floor he goes off. I wonder how many more there are of us who hide this awful life from others. Hello Haurice and Guest_3509. Come back and talk some more