Dear Aunt Silvia,
I am a father of five grown up children. My wife and I used to have problems early in our marriage, and I fell into the hands of a very caring woman who eventually became the mother of my other three children.
What I didn’t know is that, my actions affected my wife so much that she became depressed and turned to alcohol. I didn’t pay much attention then because I was busy elsewhere.
I recently separated from my lover and I am fully back to my family after being with my lover for over fifteen years.
I realise my wife is uncontrollable when it comes to taking alcohol – she actually is an alcoholic; she wakes up in the morning to a glass of dry whisky and spends the entire day drinking.
I can’t watch her waste herself to alcohol. Please, help me to help my wife.
First and foremost you must know and acknowledge that you are the cause that your wife ran to alcohol to forget the agony she was going through, thinking of you in the arms of another woman.
Your penance will be to make sure that your wife’s life goes back to normalcy since you are the cause of her being an alcoholic.
The most important step in dealing with an alcoholic spouse is to realize there is a “real” problem. I am amazed at how many people ignore the issue of alcoholism in a spouse until it’s too late.
There are early warning signs but most often than not people ignore to see the tell tale signs until after it is too late.
It is just as good that you have acknowledged the problem and you are seeking help.
This is the only way both of you need to start with the journey. Pretending the problem will go away is not dealing with it.
Alcoholism will not go away on its own-it will only get worse if intervention is not sought.
Get help! There is nothing more difficult than suffering alone. There are programs for entire families (because alcoholism is a family problem).
Everyone is affected by the behaviour of the alcoholic: family, friends, loved ones, children, and especially the spouse. You also need to take care of your safety.
There are times when the alcoholic becomes violent and you never know when that might be. Make sure you have a place to spend the night when unpredictable behaviour escalates.
Also develop a good support system of family and friends, who are there for you through the long haul and are able to give you guidance, support and an understanding ear when you need it.
Take care of yourself too- make sure you take time for yourself, whether it’s lunch with a friend, going to the gym, or developing a hobby, or going back to school to take classes.
You need to maintain your own identity and care for yourself before you can take care of your wife. You should also stop enabling the alcoholic.
This can take various forms from covering up the issue, making excuses, to even lying for your partner –if you are willing to help her then it should be all the way, let her not tell you that she needs just a little to enable her function.
You are still in control of your decisions and actions but your wife is not – so you need to make firm decisions on her behalf and for her own good.
Eventually seek counselling together with a counsellor that specializes in alcoholic abuse and your wife will be on the road to recovery.