Can You Still Love Your Alcoholic Spouse?

Can You Still Love Your Alcoholic Spouse?

Can you really love an alcoholic? If you read most advice columns it would suggest that love and the alcoholic are two words seldom used in the same sentence. The usual advice is get away from the alcoholic as quickly as possible, run now because it will only cause you pain.

While it is easy to see why this advice is given, it is not very helpful. Many people living with an alcoholic love them. They are not seeking advice on travel arrangements; they are looking to find a way that they can peacefully live with the man or woman that they love.

Many are looking to find a way of coping with the drinking behaviour of the person that they chose to be their life partner, the father (or mother) of their children. Sometimes that behaviour may seem like it has been designed to be a personal insult and slight. It may even seem like some alien has taken over the partner because he/she is not behaving like the person they love. Gentle men and women may become aggressive, abusive, violent, self-centred, thoughtless etc. They may seem at times like a total stranger.

Despite this, few people want to toss this relationship aside because of some well-meant advice, regardless of how smart it might seem. This is part of the agony of living with and loving an alcoholic; it seems as if you are behaving in a way that flies in the face of all good common sense. As if you did not have enough guilt to contend with, the helping professionals give you even more.

It is natural, not unnatural or stupid, to love the person you chose to spend your life with. We know that their behaviour can sometimes cause you to despair, doubt your sanity and want to scream. However it is difficult to switch love on or off at will. For many alcoholics the only way that they will experience redemption from their problems will be through love. If they cannot love themselves enough to change, then they may be saved by the love of their family, children, wife or husband.

So to repeat, can you really love an alcoholic? Yes you can love an alcoholic. Many, but by no means all, have an air of fun and slight danger that makes them very attractive, at least in the initial stages of a relationship. However, those same qualities can drive you to distraction when the relationship has reached what should be a more mature stage. The trick is figuring out a way that entails loving them in a helpful and constructive way, avoiding rescuing or enabling behaviour and promoting constructive change.

This is the ethos that lives at the heart of the Bottled Up program. You can learn to make the best of the time your drinker is sober. So, instead of wasting these precious days squabbling about what cannot be changed, you invest in creating new positive shared memories that are the glue that holds relationships together for the future.

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