Alcoholism and Divorce. Inevitable or Preventable?

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All too often, alcoholism and divorce go hand-in-hand. Is the alcoholic the cause of divorce or does it take two? 

A BIG question. Of course, every situation is unique. I would never presume to know the answer to such a question.

All I have is my own experience. Alcoholism and divorce are indeed part of my story. From being around the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous over the years, I also know of many divorce or potential divorce situations among alcoholics. Again, no two circumstances are the same.

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Opinions. Everyone Has One About Alcoholism and Divorce.

You may be in a marriage and considering divorce, or know someone who is, where problems with alcohol seem to be at the heart of the issues. No doubt you have sought advice from friends and family, maybe even professionals, about which way to turn.

EVERYONE has an opinion, right? Everyone wants to put in their two cents worth.

alcoholism and divorce

"Pack up all your things and threaten to leave." 

alcoholism and divorce

"Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Things will never get better with alcoholism. Marriage is over, so get a divorce!" 

alcoholism and divorce

"Pack your bags and leave." 

alcoholism and divorce

"Life is too short to live your life around a drunk!" 

alcoholism and divorce

"Your chances of her admitting she has a drinking problem are zero!" 

alcoholism and divorce

"Get a divorce and a restraining order." 

alcoholism and divorce

"D.I.V.O.R.C.E. Not a separation. Complete divorce." 

alcoholism and divorce

"See if you can get him to stop, but he will probably never change so I would say divorce him."


The above are all actual pieces of advice 
I found at an online advice forum. Scary, huh?!

Opinions. Everyone Has One About Alcoholism and Divorce . . . Including Me!

As stated above, all I have is my own experience to go on. And what I experienced were the deep and lasting effects of the Twelve Steps.

When I surrendered to the process of recovery, I was not only an alcoholic but also the wife of an emotionally abusive husband. He was a drinker, no doubt - but an alcoholic? I don't diagnose anyone, but he might as well have been. This was my second marriage, and it also describes my first marriage!

Alcoholism...Unhealthy Marriage. In my life, they went hand in hand.

Remember, I grew up in an alcoholic home. This way of life and this kind of person was what I naturally gravitated to in marriage.

If you are reading this and you grew up in an alcoholic home, does this strike a chord perhaps?

alcoholism and divorce

So I began working the Steps. The magic of the Twelve Steps was that they forced me to take the focus off changing my husband and the circumstances of my marriage, and put the focus instead on changing ME.

So my opinion? Stop focusing on getting them sober or the fact that his or her alcoholism will be the cause of divorce. First and foremost, focus on your own recovery.

I can hear you now: "But I'm not the one who needs recovery! He/she is the alcoholic."

Trust me. If you are living with an alcoholic, you need some degree of recovery.

Alcoholism and Divorce may not be the only issue. The Twelve Steps can help. 

IMPORTANT CAVEAT: Domestic violence is quite another matter. Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions including behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. On the average, more than three women in America are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.

In the case of domestic violence, first and foremost:

Seek Help.

More Resources: CLICK HERE.

...and here. 

Another Opinion 
About Alcoholism and Divorce

As you have read in my Web site, I am a committed Christian. I have a simple testimony. For many years I lived without God in my life, and I found confusion and despair. Now I live as a follower of Christ, and I have purpose, peace and contentment.

Forgive me, God, for all the years 
I failed to seek Your face.

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Before becoming a Christian, I suffered the pain of alcoholism and divorce not once, but twice. After my second divorce, I was a single mom in recovery, raising my teenage children, and determined to pursue a relationship with Jesus before even considering another marriage relationship. (This was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life, by the way!)

Then I read and heard about Jesus' teachings in Mark Chapter 10. Fear set in. Had I sinned by not staying in my first marriage? Had I really committed adultery? Would God forgive me?

I later heard a wonderful sermon on the subject that gave me great peace. I learned that God wants His children to live abundant lives. With marriage, it certainly is not His will that His children divorce. He designed marriage to be a lifelong, loving, fulfilling relationship. We no doubt grieve the Holy Spirit by divorcing.

However, we live in a fallen world where marriage relationships often fail. We live in a fallen world where our tendency to do the wrong thing is unfortunately a fact of this life on earth, and not God's intention or ideal for our lives. It is for that reason we celebrate God's Gift of Grace in His Son, in whom we are redeemed through faith alone.

God is well aware of our fallen state and through Christ He opened the way for healing and reconciliation. If God wants us to live abundant, productive lives, then surely traumatic and physically or emotionally hurting marriages are not in His plan. In many cases, (often in the case of alcoholism and divorce, and most certainly in the case of domestic violence), divorce is a responsible action. Rather than regard divorce as a sin, perhaps we should regard it as an act allowed by the grace of a loving and compassionate God.

My Opinion Only.


alcoholism and divorce

Hope in the Form of "Courage To Change"

Perhaps your marriage is all about the chaos, confusion and pain of alcoholism. For those who live within the context of alcoholism and divorce, Al-Anon Family Groups is a terrific program. It has helped countless husbands and wives of alcoholics to cope with their day-to-day problems and to make careful, rational decisions about the future of their marriages.

Al-Anon believes that alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes, brought about by working through the Twelve Steps, are the key to recovery.

Those of us who live with alcoholism in our marriages develop coping mechanisms that help us to protect ourselves emotionally. When the conditions and our feelings about alcoholism and divorce seem too much to bear, we may suppress, minimize, rationalize, or ignore them all together. Or we blame, accuse, and agonize about our spouse's misbehavior to a point of unhealthy obsession.

alcoholism and divorce

We may be well aware of the alcoholic's need to change, but we aren't willing to accept that we, too, need change. Please don't hesitate to take advantage of the help available through Al-anon.


Reading recovery books helped me so much to get out of denial and to begin the all-important task of working through the 12 Steps.

Recovery Books I Recommend

Now for the very best recovery book of all time: The Bible. In its pages, God sets out a plan for the recovery of his broken people. It is God’s love letter to us.

The Life Recovery Bible is written especially for those of us in recovery. It helps connect scripture to each of the 12 Steps and their application to our lives.

DON'T RECOVER WITHOUT IT.

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