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Alcohol use is a point of contention in many households, particularly when one partner drinks more than the other. By communicating your concerns, changing your drinking behaviors, reducing stress, finding alternatives to alcohol and getting involved in treatment, wives can help their husbands to reduce their drinking.
Talk to Him
Husbands may not be as open to the idea that they have a drinking problem, but bringing up your concerns in a nonconfrontational manner helps to get the point across. Try wording such as, “I notice that you have been drinking every day this week. Is something bothering you?” Or turn the conversation to you, using phrases like, “When you drink, I worry because I love you and don’t want anything to happen to you.” Even open-ended questions such as, “Do you think you drink more than other people,” get the point across and open a dialogue between partners. While your husband won’t necessarily admit that he has a problem with alcohol, identifying it as a concern for you might plant the seed and reduce those behaviors.
Change Your Behaviors
Fewer opportunities for drinking reduces alcohol use. When one partner changes her behavior, for example, by not drinking as much or at all, her partner also changes his behavior. Since avoiding triggers is a big part of alcohol recovery, it is critical that wives alter their own drinking patterns, particularly around their husbands
Reduce Household Stress
While alcohol may increase marital stress, stress in the household can also increase drinking behaviors. Identifying non-alcohol related sources of strain and addressing them has the potential to reduce drinking behaviors in those who use it as a way to deal with stress. Stress-reduction tools range from exercise to therapy, depending on the severity of the problem.
Support His Recovery
If you want him to stop drinking, get involved in whatever he is using for treatment. Husbands whose wives are a part of their treatment typically have fewer heavy drinking days and more days of abstinence. If he is trying to change his thought patterns around alcohol, be there to offer replace thoughts like "I need a drink," with "It's a craving and it will pass." You can also look around your community for social support groups that don't use alcohol to enhance the chances of a full recovery.
Help Him Find Alternatives to Alcohol
Plan for events that used to trigger drinking. Go on a walk in the woods or a movie instead of to a friend’s birthday at a bar, plan for holiday gatherings with alcohol free egg nog. And if he wants to stop but is having trouble, talk to your husband ahead of time to make a plan. If your husband needs to leave your mother’s house to go home and play video games because it helps him fight the urge to drink, be prepared to say, “Goodnight,” and drive him there. Being present during those times not only shows that you care but ups the chance that they will be successful in giving up alcohol.
- Health Services Research Journal: Spousal Concordance in Health Behavior Change
- Annual Review of Clinical Psychology: Marital and Family Processes in the Context of Alcohol Use and Alcohol Disorders
- Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology: Alcohol-Focused Spouse Involvement and Behavioral Couples Therapy: Evaluation of Enhancements to Drinking Reduction Treatment for Male Problem Drinkers
- Recovery Village: 10 Ways To Help Someone Overcome Alcohol Addiction
Melody Causewell has been a writer in the mental health field since 2001. She written training manuals and clinical programs for mental health organizations. She has published feature articles "Leaven" magazine and has been published in "Natural Awakenings." She has a degree in psychology, a Masters degree in social work and is a La Leche League leader.
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