Sam Andrews
My spouse is an alcoholic

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Dear Loveawake: My spouse is an alcoholic. I knew he drank a lot when we were first married. We just had our 10th year anniversary. I just wasn't aware of how long it had been going on or why. He is very unhappy on the inside from childhood scaring, etc. He will admit to the disease, but is not ready to drastically change his life by getting help. I have been patiently waiting, and encouraging him to make the change on this own desire (not just because I want him to). We have great sex, but our communication and common interests are changing for the worse. I married him 'til death do us part', How can I help this situation? Please advise. - Brenda

Dear Brenda: Your question about how to help your husband would be the same as asking me how to help him if he was diagnosed with cancer. You could love him and have great sex but unless he went to a doctor for treatment for his disease you'd simply have to watch him deteriorate. The problem I have with calling alcoholism a disease is, that if you can put 12 people in a room and they can decide not to drink anymore, then how is it a disease. If you put 12 people with cancer, diabetes or AIDS in a room they can decide whatever they want and nothing they say or do will change their condition. I've always felt that people decide to drink or not drink.

Unfortunately, the only time someone goes for help or decides to change on their own is when they finally lose everything and everyone who matters to them. Then miraculously they are motivated to change. Watching someone who chooses to destroy themselves little by little, one drink at a time is not what marriage is supposed to be. I say that you stand by his side through thick and thin when events or situations happen that he has no control over. However, if he chooses the alcohol over you, he may need to know what it's like to lose the person who loves him more than anyone else in this world. That may be the only way to help him decide that you are more important than the alcohol. In the meantime I think you should go to a support group like Al-Anon. There are many other helpful sites on the Internet where you can get support and feedback from other people who have gone through what you are going through. - Loveawake