Fight The Good Fight: 5 Ways Marriage Counseling Can Help When Your Spouse Is an Alcoholic

Face it: marriage is a good thing, but it is not always an easy thing. The ups and downs of life—financial decisions, parenting, career choices, and illness—can present enough of a challenge in and of themselves. However, if your spouse has a drinking problem, marriage can be downright hard. In fact, couples dealing with substance abuse are often more unhappy than couples who go to counseling for other issues. The dishonesty and disruption that alcoholism brings to a family has the potential to tear it apart. If you and your spouse are ready to fight the good fight for your marriage during this difficult time, marriage counseling can help in five significant ways.

1. Acknowledge the elephant

The marriage counselor you see will begin the first session by getting to know you and your spouse. Talking about what brought you into counseling may be embarrassing, but it helps the two of you to lay out, in front of a professional, the primary reason for your struggles: alcoholism. Once the "elephant in the room" has been acknowledged, an honest assessment of your marriage difficulties can begin.

2. Lay out the feelings

Marriage counseling will also help the two of you identify the significant emotional hurts you have suffered from each other through the years. This isn't a pity party, but rather an opportunity to express painful feelings that are affecting the way you interact with each other. It's an essential part of healing.

3. Make the decision

Marriage counseling is also going to force the issue of your spouse's drinking to a point of decision. If your marriage is going to make it, the drinking will have to stop. Chances are if your spouse has committed to going to counseling, he or she is probably also ready to lay down the alcohol for the sake of your marriage. Your counselor will be able to recommend a treatment center as well as support groups that you can attend while your spouse is in rehab. Alcoholics Anonymous has a time-proven system of rehabilitation that will assist you both in walking through the recovery process.

4. Reestablish communication

A critical part of marriage counseling is establishing a new system of communication between the two of you. You likely have fallen into unhealthy ways of expressing feelings and resolving conflicts. Your therapist will teach you skills to handle disagreements in a way that leads to solutions. This will take practice, but once mastered, new communication skills will greatly help your relationship.

5. Commit to accountability

Once you have achieved the primary goals of sobriety and communication in your marriage, consider continuing to meet with your counselor on a regular basis for "tune-ups." Maintaining the progress you've made will be easier if you are accountable to the person who helped you make it.

Fighting for your marriage isn't easy, but it's worth it. Find a marriage counselor who specializes in chemical dependency issues, and make an appointment today. Consider speaking with a representative from Drake Counseling Services for help.