What do you say when you talk to your spouse about their drinking? Do you lecture them about their drinking? Do you threaten them with divorce if they don’t stop drinking? Do you call them names and accuse them of wrongdoing? This is our emotions talking for us. Spouses of alcoholics are usually emotionally distraught over the behaviors of the alcoholic and because of this, they may end up being a detriment to the sobriety of the alcoholic. This is why we must learn to detach emotionally from the alcoholic.
Are You Too Emotionally Consumed with the Alcoholic?
No one can make someone else stop drinking, not even a loved one. The only person who can truly help the alcoholic to stop drinking is the drinker himself. But you can influence them to come out of denial and recognize they have a drinking problem. But there is a certain way you have to talk to them and behave around them. If you are feeling mentally drained and frustrated over the behaviors of the alcoholic you won’t be much help to them.
Ironically, once a loved one learns to detach from the behaviors of the alcoholic and starts taking care of their emotional and spiritual well being is when the alcoholic realizes they have a drinking problem. You see, when a loved one is too emotionally consumed with the alcoholic and their negative behaviors it keeps the alcoholic stuck in the addiction. This is because they don’t have to take responsibility for it if you are already doing it for them.
Are You an Enabler?
The alcoholic loves all the negative attention you give them such as the fussing over them when they drink, arguing to them about their drinking, babying them by putting them to bed, cleaning up messes they make while drinking, paying their fines, and not to mention giving them money for alcohol. What is left for them to do? Loved ones enable and they don’t even know it! Enabling is synonymous with taking responsibility when it comes to being married to an alcoholic.
The alcoholic loves it when you become frustrated and lose your emotions in bouts of anger at them. It tells them that YOU are the one with the problem, not them. Anytime you fuss, argue, threaten, belittle, become angry over, and finger-point and accuse the alcoholic, you are giving them the ammunition they need to say you are the one with the problem. But you don’t even drink, so how could you be the one with the problem?
Let me explain this in an example so you will get an idea of what I’m saying here. Have you ever gotten all riled up with your child and threatened them with punishment if they didn’t do something, or have you ever screamed and yelled for them to clean up their room? What usually happens? They become rebellious! They scream and yell back, stomp feet, and talk back. That’s because screaming, yelling, and threatening does not work. These tactics have never worked with our children and they will never work with the alcoholic either.
So, now that you know how not to talk to your alcoholic spouse, let’s talk about how you should talk to them. NEVER talk to a drinking alcoholic because you are wasting your time. When they are NOT drinking tell them these things.
What to Say To The Alcoholic
1) I love you (spouse’s name) but I hate the disease.
2) I will stand by you when you want to quit but I will not stand by you when you drink.
3) I like talking with you when you are sober, but I hate talking with you when you drink.
4) I love being with you as long as you are not drinking, but when you start to drink, I can’t be around you.
5) I love the man/woman I married but I do not like what the drinking does to you.
Be loving and kind and give lots of good attention when your spouse is not drinking. Always let them know that you will be supportive of them when they are ready to work towards sobriety. But when they are drinking, let the alcoholic be. Do not talk to them. Detach with love. Get on with your day doing whatever it is you do and allow yourself to completely be freed of what the alcoholic is doing.