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How Alcoholism Affects a Marriage

Jun 18, 2008
Alcoholism in one or more partners in a marriage will negatively affect the relationship on many levels. Trust is broken, intimacy erodes, communication breaks down. Marriage statistics are uncommon because there are usually many issues involved in the break up of a marriage, and the problem of alcoholism is not always sited as the main reason for the break up, even though in some cases it is.

Alcohol can affect a marriage through:

Eroded or non-existent communication between the couple:

As the alcoholism and the drinking escalates, arguments become more common and resentments build up. The alcoholic will resent his or her spouse's attempts to interfere with their drinking. The non-drinking spouse resents the alcoholic's inability to stop drinking. These resentments build up and will cause communication to break down. It is also common for the some alcoholics to become verbally abusive under the influence, which will affect how the spouses feel towards each other and affect intimacy levels negatively.

Violence on the Part of the Alcoholic Spouse:

Violence is less common than verbal abuse by the alcoholic spouse, but violent acts towards the non-using spouse has serious consequences for all concerned. Of course, any marriage counselor would advise the non-alcoholic spouse to leave the violent alcoholic spouse before any further damage can be done.

Infidelity:

Since alcohol removes inhibitions in the practicing alcoholic, the alcoholic may become more likely to be involved in a situation involving infidelity due to impaired judgment.

The non-drinking spouse may become alienated from the drinking spouse and seek the company of a member of the opposite sex elsewhere.

All of this can culminate in the alcoholic spouse feeling and acting jealous towards the non-drinking spouse's friends, actions, and life. This can sometimes result in violence.

Economic Instability and Money Problems:

As the alcoholism in the drinking spouse becomes more advanced, the alcoholic may not be able to continue to fulfill responsibilities as in the past. Alcohol addiction results in drinking becoming the priority and this can result in job loss or sporadic employment at best, due to illness, hangovers, or drinking during working hours (or a worse case scenario - drinking around the clock).

The job loss results in financial instability, putting further stress on the marriage.

Family Function Decreases:

Family function is what makes a family a family or a marriage a marriage. Going out as a couple on a date, cooking dinner, or playing with the children would fall under normal family functions.

The alcoholic will not necessarily be able to fulfill family functions due to being drunk, increased unreliability, or lack of interest.

As this outline shows, alcoholism can be devastating to a married couple and the family if children are involved. The only way the situation can improve is if the alcoholic makes a genuine effort to get some kind of help. Without help the alcoholic will advance in the disease and continue to involve the non-drinking spouse in ongoing crisis after crisis, and the relationship between the spouses and the circumstances surrounding the couple will continue to suffer.
About the Author
If you or someone close to you needs help with a drinking problem, you can find it here: You Can Stop Drinking Now.
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