Dealing with alcoholism
How do you deal with a verbally abusive alcoholic spouse?
Dealing with an alcoholic spouse is a challenge in itself and adding verbal abuse to the mix makes this a very precarious situation. How to deal with the spouse depends on a lot of different factors. First and foremost, are you physically safe with your spouse? If not, then I would advise seeking help to distance yourself from the situation, either temporarily or permanently, while addressing the core issues.
Next, and also very important to consider, is whether you plan on staying in the marriage. Addiction and recovery can be a very long and painful process and if you want to stay in your marriage, you need to understand what that might mean. Does your spouse acknowledge that they have a drinking problem? Are they willing to seek help?
Whether or not you choose to stay in your marriage, you should focus on getting yourself as healthy as you can. Do you have children? I would suggest counseling and/or Al Anon for both you and your children. As the daughter of an alcoholic, I can tell you that, even if you don’t drink, you pick up behaviors and habits are a result of dealing with your loved ones alcoholism – some that you may not even recognize until many years down the road. Visit Al-Anon and Alateen to find groups in your areas and start getting support. If your spouse is ready for help, check out local AA meetings as well.
But beyond the alcoholism, let’s talk about verbal abuse. Verbal abuse can be as damaging or even more so than physical abuse. In many cases, we don’t even begin to understand the emotional toll until we start having nightmares or having trouble concentrating, suffer from depression or even PTSD. Is the verbal abuse related to the drinking or is it more engrained in your spouse’s pattern of behavior? The verbally abusive behavior is definitely a huge problem and it needs to stop.
If you and I were chatting about this problem over coffee, I would ask you a lot of questions about your situation to try and understand more about the dynamics of your relationship, but here I am stuck dealing in generalities so here is my advice based on what I know about addiction and interpersonal violence. This problem is not going to go away on its own and you need to reach out for help. Find a counselor in your area that specializes in addiction and ask for help. Call your local domestic violence agency and talk to them about their programs and services. Sometimes they offer programs to work with abusive partners with the goal of helping them better manage anger and keep relationships intact. Go to Al-Anon and talk. You’ll get serious doses of perspective and helpful resources from people dealing with similar situations. Whatever path you choose, make sure it involves seeking the help you need to be as healthy as you can be in this very daunting situation.
My thoughts are with you and I invite you to reach out anytime you need a sympathetic ear.
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Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.