Married To An Alcoholic

Am I Married To An Alcoholic? Being married to an alcoholic is hard – and making your marriage work can be even harder. Sometimes referred to as an alcoholic marriage, this unhealthy relationship dynamic takes a tremendous emotional, financial, and physical toll on the spouse as well as the drinker. Not only that, but it […]

Am I Married To An Alcoholic?

Being married to an alcoholic is hard – and making your marriage work can be even harder. Sometimes referred to as an alcoholic marriage, this unhealthy relationship dynamic takes a tremendous emotional, financial, and physical toll on the spouse as well as the drinker. Not only that, but it often causes irreparable harm to the very relationship itself which is why marriages where someone has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) have higher rates of divorce. Recognizing the signs that your spouse’s drinking habits have gone too far could save both the marriage and their life. 

Symptoms Of Alcoholism

Are you married to an alcoholic? You may notice warning signs of alcohol addiction:

  • Increased drinking over some time
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Agitation 
  • Replacing work or hobbies with drinking
  • Mood swings
  • Keeping alcohol in secret areas
  • Talking about drinking even in the mornings
  • Depression
  • Anxious when not drinking
  • Shakiness
  • Consistent excuses for why they’re drinking

An alcoholic might not show all of the symptoms listed above. Also, it can take time for many of these symptoms to appear, because alcoholism develops in stages. 

10 Struggles Of Being Married To An Alcoholic

Alcoholism doesn’t just happen overnight. The process is gradual, so much so that a spouse may not realize that their husband or wife is slowly becoming an alcoholic before their very eyes. Another reason why the development of a drinking problem goes undetected is that the spouse may be an enabler, making excuses for the husband or wife, and is unwilling to recognize the problematic behavior. 

If you are already married to an alcoholic spouse, you must be wondering “should I stay married to an alcoholic?”

1. They’re struggling at work or having difficulty keeping a job

One of the telltale signs of a drinking disorder is when it impedes crucial daily life such as school or going to work. An alcoholic’s work performance is usually the first to suffer, likely from calling out due to an alcohol hangover or being intoxicated during working hours. Once terminated, they may have difficulty finding new places of employment or maintaining a job for more than a few days or weeks at a time which can be a massive blow to household finances. 

2. They shirk family responsibilities

Marriage is a partnership, and things quickly become problematic when you can no longer rely on your partner if you’re married to an alcoholic. Whether it’s managing the household or rearing children, if your spouse is routinely dropping the ball, it’s a clear sign that their priorities have shifted.

3. Personal hygiene has deteriorated

Alcoholism is a disease that affects the body both physically and psychologically. One of the side effects of which include a growing disinterest in anything that isn’t alcohol. The result of which means that your spouse’s personal hygiene routine has suddenly taken an extended hiatus. 

4. They experience rapid mood swings

Alcohol interferes with neurochemicals, the resulting imbalance can result in the formation or aggravation of mental health disorders. Depression and anxiety are common developments in alcoholism and can result in your spouse quickly going between various emotional states.

5. They skip meals

Malnutrition and anemia are commonplace amongst alcoholics, one of the reasons being that they are known to skip meals in lieu of an alcoholic beverage. If your spouse is constantly passing on dinner but has a drink in hand, it could be a sign they’re at the point where alcohol outweighs their basic survival instincts. 

6. Unintentional weight changes

Another consequence of a drinking problem can be fluctuations in weight. If they are frequently skipping meals as mentioned above, you might notice them shedding the pounds seemingly without explanation. Conversely, alcohol use disorders can also cause significant weight gain since alcohol is loaded with carbs and sugars that are difficult for the body to burn. Further, alcohol interferes with the digestive system and can leave them with a slower metabolism that also contributes to weight gain. 

Being married to an alcoholic can erode your sense of normalcy and well-being.

7. They engage in high-risk behavior

A chronic drinking problem can damage the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and rational decision-making. As such, you may notice your husband or wife engaging in increasingly risky behavior that they normally would not. This might look like gambling, illegal activity, or getting into frequent car accidents. However, this can also take the place of mundane behaviors like deciding to skip work or picking fights.

8. They’ve become physically abusive

The World Health Organization has identified drinking as a major factor in domestic violence against a spouse. This can include physical, psychological, or sexual forms of abuse. [1]

9. They’re abandoned their hobbies 

This is a common behavior of addicts. Over time, their thoughts and financial resources are consumed by the source of their addiction as both the psychological and physiological need for alcohol grow stronger. This behavior is concerning if you’re married to an alcoholic your spouse is constantly canceling plans (especially ones that are part of their routine).  

10. Your sex life has taken a hit

It’s not unusual for there to be dry spells in a married couple’s sex life. However, if your intimacy has been lagging for an extended period of time, it could be caused by alcohol’s libido-deflating effect in men. Numerous studies have shown that alcohol can lower testosterone levels.

How To Stay Married To An Alcoholic

If you’re dating, or married to an alcoholic, whether you have children or not you need to get into a professional right away. If you want to know how to stay married to an alcoholic professional help is essential. If the professional has a great background and training, they will tell you the very same thing I’m telling you right now: if you don’t set boundaries and consequences nothing will ever change. If you do not demand their sobriety, they will continue to drink for the rest of their lives. That’s the odds.

What Can You Do When You’re Married To An Alcoholic?

According to American Addiction Centers, the first thing you should do if your spouse is an alcoholic is to think carefully about approaching the topic with them before you act. The idea of that first conversation with them can be uncomfortable, and you may be thinking about possible adverse outcomes. It’s normal to feel this way. 

Here are some tactics that may help if you’re married to an alcoholic:

  • Ask yourself if you or others have been enabling their alcoholism. Understand that if you have enabled, the addiction is not your fault, although you have added to the problem.
  • Make a list of the symptoms that you’ve noticed from them. Write an explanation of how these symptoms have affected your life and marriage.
  • Research therapeutic options for yourself and recovery options for them. Present this written information to them at a point when they haven’t been drinking. Let them know you care and are in this together.

Lastly, show empathy and kindness, and ask for the same in response as you’ve both been struggling. [2]

When Is It Time To Leave An Alcoholic Husband Or Wife?

When a relationship is distorted by an unbalanced dependence, or by suspicion, hostility, excessive demands, and expectations, these flaws reveal themselves in the way the two people communicate with each other.

If a man marries a woman because he was attracted by her warm maternal quality, as many alcoholics do, he is likely to be the dependent one. And she attracted to him because of her unconscious desire to mother someone, who will be the practical member of the family. She may later bemoan the fact that he has failed in his role as head of the house, not aware that it was she who took the reins and did all the managing. And while she is managing him, the children, the household, and the finances, she’s awash with self‑pity because of the big load she has to carry.

If he is drinking, her constant protective watchfulness makes it easy for him to sidestep getting help. He has no incentive to get sober. She convinces herself that she’s doing her very best for him; she hasn’t learned, as she would in Al‑Anon, that shielding him from the consequences of his drinking only prolongs its course. When he’s drunk, her reaction is to reproach him for his behavior, and that’s the very worst time to attempt to communicate with him. In fact, it can’t be done without triggering a family war.

Being married to an alcoholic who continues to abuse alcohol can be emotionally and financially exhausting. Divorcing an alcoholic does not have to be.

Until she learns what is wrong with her attitude and how to change herself so he will be forced to face his responsibilities, the situation isn’t likely to improve. [3]

Will My Alcoholic Loved One Ever Get Better?

An alcoholic spouse’s habits have negative repercussions that affect household dynamics, finances, and intimacy. These issues then create a domino effect of instability which affects spouses and their children. This is why alcoholism is considered to be a family disease as its effects extend far beyond the alcohol itself. Not sure how to broach the topic with your alcoholic husband or wife?

We Level Up TX family therapy is here to help couples and families work together to overcome the struggles listed above. We understand that the impacts of addiction never stop with the addict. Family therapy creates a safe space to talk honestly and for each member of the family to gain what they need to repair the unit as a whole.

Treatment For Alcoholism

If you or a loved one is an alcoholic, your very first step in recovery should be to medical detox in a safe and medically supervised setting. [4] We Level Up TX drug addiction and alcohol treatment center medically assists clients to clear their systems of addictive substances. For anyone who suffers from addiction, just the thought of having to stop drinking alcohol can cause severe mental distress. But, with the help of a medical alcohol detox center, the medical detox process is managed.

A comprehensive team prescribing medications can alleviate your alcohol withdrawal pains while monitoring your health 24 hours. Assuring both your safety and comfort. We Level Up TX’s thorough approach to rehabilitation supports several levels of care to ensure the best possible outcome for every client who enters our doors. From an intensive and more supportive atmosphere for those in the early days of recovery to a comfortable residential-style living dynamic upon completion of detox, we are here to help guide you down the safe and results-based path to your sobriety.

Are you married to an alcoholic? If your loved one is seeking a safe, secure, and compassionate resource for alcohol treatment, We Level Up TX is here for you. Call us and speak with an addiction counselor today about the levels of care.


[1] What It’s Like Being Married To An Alcoholic
[2] Married to an Alcoholic? How Long Do You Stay?
[3] The dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage –
[4] What to Do if You’re Married to an Alcoholic –
[5] We Level Up – Addiction » Alcoholism Treatment