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My Husband is an Alcoholic, I Feel Trapped

by Letitia

He has always been a drinker but 6 years ago my father passed away, my father was more of a dad to him than his own father. The drinking got out of control and he started drinking in the mornings before going to work.

He eventually lost his job and I still stayed with him. We lost our house and moved to his parents - 6 months later his mom passed away, he drank every single opportunity he got. He eventually found another job and our lives seemed to be moving in the right direction.

Then he started drinking again, he still has his job but I am once again living with the fear that he will lose his job again, this morning I caught him again having a drink in the bathroom. I'm a born again christian and also hoped that God will answer my prayers.

He admits having a problem and he needs help but today it seems like this is only empty words and promises. I don't know what to do anymore, unlike other people we stay in a small little farming community and help is nowhere to be found. Our nearest city is 2 hours drive away. I don't have any family support. Would you be able to help me through this process or should I just leave? Answer

Hi Letitia

Whether you can get through this with your husband or whether you should ultimately leave him is only a question you can answer. It's about getting honest with yourself, about what you really want, and whether your marriage can still meet all your needs.

Because with regards to being married to an alcoholic you need to understand these three crucial principles: i) You didn't cause your husband's alcoholism. ii) You can't control his drinking/alcohol addiction. iii) Neither can you cure his drinking problem.

Your husband has to genuinely want to do something about his alcoholism if he's ever going to beat it. No one can make him. And making empty promises to quit is what a lot of alcoholics do because they're not ready to quit yet. So what can you do? Focus on yourself - doing things that make you happy and give you peace or pleasure, knowing that you can't control your husband or his drinking.

But if that's not enough and you want more from your marriage, then there isn't much else you can do except give your husband the choice - 'get help and sort your life out, or I can't continue with things as they are.' If you're going to go that route though, you have to mean it. Empty threats don't work.

There are no guarantees that approach will work, but for some knowing they risk losing their family, it can motivate them sufficiently to get help and address their problem. And just because you're 2 hours away from the closest city is no excuse. Your husband simply has to go where the help is, no matter how long it takes him.

There are plenty alcoholism treatment facilities available in South Africa. So either your husband can keep making excuses or you have to stop him making excuses by forcing him to choose. It isn't easy, but you have to be strong.

This is obviously a difficult and complex area, so if you want more in-depth advice and information that space constraints don't allow us to go into here, consider getting yourself Help Me! I'm In Love With An Addict: How To Survive a Relationship With an Alcoholic or Drug Addict. Things don't have to be this way, but if you want your life to change, it's up to you to make it happen.

Best of Luck

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