My Life as the Alcoholic's Spouse

by Ann King about a year ago in alcohol

Alcoholism affects everyone differently

My Life as the Alcoholic's Spouse

If you are married to an alcoholic, then there is no need for me to tell you the living hell you are put through every day of your life. There is always someone out there who has what they believe are great words of wisdom and advice to offer you.

Well, as someone who has been and is currently still married 36 years to their alcoholic, I can tell you right now straight from my own experience that no one, and I mean no one, has any real idea as to what you are really dealing within your home.

I have dealt with just about every possible scenario one could imagine or even make up as far as dealing with alcoholism. I have also heard just about every piece of advice about how I should be handling it.

However, none of these advice-givers, whether they be family members, close friends or even therapists, really know just how hard it is to live day after day with an alcoholic spouse until you walk in those shoes.

I am not about to tell you how to handle yours, I can only tell you my experiences. First off, it is always asked "why do you stay if things are so bad?"

Well, I can tell you my story. I married my high school sweetheart very young, age 17 to be exact, and just out of high school. No, we were not pregnant, just two young kids who believed we were deeply in love.

I was a stay at home mom to my three kids while my husband worked construction. The first ten years were fine. But somewhere around there, my husband started stopping after work for drinks with the guys.

What was once one or two nights a week quickly became an every night thing. He stopped getting home at dinner and started staying out until the bars closed. As luck would have it, he soon got zapped with his first DUI.

Money issues and poor choices put a major strain on our lives, and I began resenting him more and more. His alcohol habit continued to grow, and he began adding other drugs along with it. Booze was no longer enough; he was snorting coke, taking pills and continuing on his path of destruction.

There were nightly arguments about the drinking and me threatening to leave him. But who was I kidding, I was a mom of three and had no skills nor my family close by to help me out.

The husband's family started offering advice, tried talking to him, and nothing worked. Soon his family and close friends started turning away from him. It gets to be too much too quick for those who do not need to deal with it.

Fast forward more than 15 years into the future. My kids are grown and on their own. They resent their dad for being a lousy drunk who was never really around for them. He rarely sees them more than a few times a year, if that.

I am 55, older, wiser, but still with him. Why again, no skills, no money, no real means at this time to take care of myself financially. The alcoholic husband... he is 57, looks as if he is 77, and his health is shot, or extremely close to it.

He has been arrested numerous times for drunken disorderly, he doesn't get DUIs any longer because he hasn't had a license for 17 years and relies on others to drive him to and from work.

He drinks at least a fifth of vodka a day, sometimes more, and is drunk and nasty every night. His drinking has progressed to starting when he awakens and while he works until he passes out.

He has been hospitalized many times with pancreatitis, dehydration, and most recently, for DTs. His mind is going; he often repeats himself or doesn't remember day to day conversations.

Yes, he is slowly killing himself each day. He is a bitter, rude man who lives each day in misery. His doctors have told him, "Keep it up and you will soon die." It hasn't fazed him.

I sit each day and stress about what is to come with him and make my plans to try and get into the position financially to free myself from this hellish life.

The day will come, but I often wonder if my alcoholic husband will free himself from his hellish life first with death. It is coming for him. There is really no good advice that I can give any of you in this same position. Only you can decide when and if the time will arise when you can break free.

But keep comfort in knowing, as someone else going through the same once told me, I believe they heard in Alanon, "You didn't cause it. You can't control it. You can't cure it, and you are not to blame."

Ann King
Ann King
Read next: Whiskey: A Guide and History
Ann King

A woman of the world who feels like she has already lived many lifetimes and adventures in just a handful of decades.

See all posts by Ann King