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    How Alcohol Addiction Affect Your Marriage And Relationship



    At a time when liquor stores have been deemed essential during the Covid-19 crisis, alcohol abuse can cause relationship problems that can destroy a family and leave lasting emotional scars for years to come. 

    Alcohol addiction is an epidemic across the world. The CDC estimates that six people die every day from alcohol poisoning. Of the 15 million people that struggle with alcohol misuse, less than eight percent seek help for their addictions.

    This can create a myriad of problems in a marriage. The decline of a partner’s health and experiencing belligerent, aggressive, and disrespectful behavior from a spouse is hurtful to experience.

    Substance abuse is a serious threat to marriage that can affect partners in more ways than one. Here are the 6 ways that alcohol addiction causes serious relationship problems.

    Emotional Distress 

    When your spouse is sober, your relationship is wonderful. You have a great connection, a passionate sex life, and a deep emotional bond. But once your partner has a drink, your stomach sinks. The kind, compassionate, loving person you had just spent the day with is suddenly emotional, aggressive, and just plain mean.

    Alcoholics may react to alcohol in different ways. They may become verbally insulting, emotionally abusive, may resort to crying and hosting pity-parties, or may be frequently unfaithful when under the influence.

    Being the sober spouse of an alcoholic partner is an exhausting journey that can cause great emotional distress.

    Neglecting the Marriage

    An alcoholic is selfish when under the influence. They are only out for their own enjoyment. As stated above, this may result in infidelity and other blatant acts of disrespect towards the marriage.

    In order to have a happy, healthy marriage, couples need to spend quality time together. They must work on communication and maintain emotional and physical intimacy. 

    Studies show that the inability to communicate with a partner is one of the most common reasons for divorce. If you and your spouse can no longer communicate, sober or otherwise, it may be time for separation in marriage.

    Negatively Effects Children

    When a spouse is struggling with addiction, it is common for them to start neglecting their family responsibilities. Even something like having a game night with the children or watching a movie together becomes impossible and robs children of a loving household.

    Statistics on children of alcoholics show that they are likely to

    • Seek romantic relationships with alcoholics or abusers
    • Be socially inept
    • Engage in dangerous or risky behavior
    • Fail in school
    • Have an unhealthy obsession with overachieving
    • Confuse sex with love
    • Have low self-esteem
    • Manifest a physical illness
    • Abuse drugs
    • Suffer from depression or other mental health issues

    American Addiction Centers reports that children who grow up with at least one alcoholic parent are more likely to become an alcoholic themselves.

    Living with an alcoholic can also be scary for a child. In some cases, they will be witness to the instability brought on by alcoholism. They are statistically more likely to experience physical, verbal, or sexual abuse while living in the home of an alcoholic. 

    Children may also feel the effects of the financial ruin caused by alcohol addiction.

    Financial Troubles

    Alcoholics will do anything to feed their addiction. Some resort to prostitution in exchange for a drink, while others think nothing of draining the family banks accounts, savings, and piling up credit card debt all to get a fix.

    Furthermore, alcohol acts as a depressant, which can cause an individual to have a poor judgment with regards to emotional and financial aspects of the marriage.

    If you are experiencing relationship problems at the hands of an alcoholic spouse, but you do not want to consider separation in marriage, do your best to ensure all financial matters are in your care. Do not allow your spouse to have access to bank accounts or credit cards, as this could put your family in severe debt.

    Abusive Patterns Form

    Marital conflict is hard to live with on a daily basis. Abuse often occurs in a relationship with an alcoholic.

    Research shows that each year, more than 10 million women and men will experience physical abuse at the hands of a romantic partner.  Physical violence may manifest itself when an intoxicated partner becomes aggressive or confused.

    Verbal abuse can be just as painful as physical. Common side effects of an abuser include:

    • Control the spouse’s social life
    • Express severe jealousy and possessive behavior
    • Resort to physical aggression and abuse, resulting in damage to the home, car, or leave a spouse in the hospital
    • Verbally abuse and belittle 
    • Cause embarrassment and shame
    • Make a spouse believe they are worthless
    • Inflict severe stress to a marriage

    These are deeply unhealthy behaviors that no one should tolerate. If you feel you are in an abusive or toxic relationship, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text 1-800-787-3224 for help to get out of that dangerous situation.

    Unhealthy and Dangerous Behavior

    Serious alcohol addiction can create troubling patterns of control that make it difficult for them to leave safely. In fact, most violence toward women occurs when she tries to leave an abusive situation. Other troubling behaviors that make it hard to separate from a spouse may include:

    • Severe guilting or blaming the victim for the drinker’s behavior
    • Threatening self-harm if a partner says they are considering separation in marriage
    • Unfairly using the children against a spouse, “Please, let’s keep our family together” or “You aren’t allowed to see the children if you’re willing to break up our family like this.”
    • Keeping finances, identification cards, and other material needs from a spouse to prevent their leaving 

    Betty Jo Barrett, an associate professor at the University of Windsor says that, regarding intimate-partner violence, “the risk of domestic homicide becomes highest during the period of separation.” She goes on to say that this is a form of power and control.

    Being with an alcoholic is bound to cause serious relationship problems. You deserve to be with someone who loves and appreciates you. If your spouse is unwilling to get help for their addictions, it may be in the best interest of you and any children to seek help apart from your spouse.

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    Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for, a reliable resource to support healthy, happy marriages.


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