Holiday Survival Guide When You Love An Alcoholic

Holiday Survival Guide When You Love An Alcoholic

Holidays… when you’re married to someone who drinks too much or suffers from addiction they can be difficult, can’t they?

You’re hoping for the best. You’re praying that they will stay sober so you can have a wonderful, warm, and loving holiday.  

Maybe you’re planning on visiting with family and they don’t have any idea how bad things have gotten at home. Or perhaps you have children and you just want their father to be the loving dad they deserve.

I know exactly how you feel. When I was married to a wonderful man who struggled with this disease, I had really high expectations for the holidays. I decorated the house, cooked delicious food (or sometimes if I was busy, I would purchase some delicious food), and I would invite my family over to celebrate and have fun.

But during all my planning, I was feeling nervous. In the back of my mind I was worried that he wouldn’t stay sober and my big plans to have a lovely and happy holiday would be ruined.

And, the truth is, my reality was far different than the dreamy holiday I had fantasized about. There was drinking and drug use, sometimes even days before the actual holiday.

During Christmas, I would see my father carving the turkey and my husband just sitting on the couch with a beer, completely in his own world and think, “Why aren’t you enjoying this holiday with us? This could be so wonderful if you just put down the drink and engaged with the ones who love you.”

It made no sense.

And that’s a great place for us to begin with this holiday guide: this disease makes no sense.


Tip #1: Stop trying to understand the why.

Your loved one is sick and this disease makes no sense and that’s all you need to understand. The sooner you surrender trying to understand why he or she acts badly, the faster your healing begins.

Think about it: who would choose feeling wasted over feeling the love their family has to offer?  

Who would choose to feel a fake kind of joy that drugs or alcohol make you feel, over the real joy of laughing with your children?

Who would choose mind-numbing drugs over receiving the warm love of a wife?

Someone who is sick. Who is out of control. And who has a disease.

And the more you try to understand the reason they make these sick choices, the more frustrated you will become.

You’re a smart woman. You’re not going to waste your valuable time trying to solve your partner’s issues any longer.  You are going to start to put that wasted energy into loving yourself and the wonderful woman God created you to be. Think of all this extra time you will now have as a gift to yourself.  

Tip #2:  Have a game plan if he refuses to leave the house when you have plans to go out.

When you’re planning your holiday and you’re wondering: “What do I cook? Who should I invite over? or Where should we go?” I want you to include a plan if your partner starts to drink or use drugs.

In other words, what are you going to do if he or she starts acting up? You might be thinking, “I don’t know what to do, Michelle.”

And I don’t want you to worry because I’m going to offer you some really helpful suggestions if your loved one refuses to leave the house and you have plans to go out.

If he or she starts to drink before a holiday party or event you’re excited about attending, here’s your choice:

You can leave the house without him or her and have a good time.

Here’s what you’re not going to do: you’re not going to make the unhealthy choice to cancel your plans if they refuses to go.  

You’re an courageous woman. You CAN go somewhere without your partner. You have good social skills and people enjoy talking with you. You will be surprised how good of a time you will have if you leave him or her at home.  

Think about it: you won’t need to constantly be looking across the room and worrying if your loved one has had another drink. You won’t feel embarrassed about their slurred words or awkward behavior.  

The only person you will be responsible for is you (and maybe your children if they are attending).  

You can do it! I know you can and I promise you’re more capable than you give yourself credit for.  

Even if you have just five minutes of fun – it will be better than wasting the evening staying at home, upset and disappointed that your loved one made bad choices again.

Tip #3: Have a game plan if your partner starts drinking too much when you’re out together.

So let’s say you’re at the holiday party and he or she may or may not have promised not to drink. You’re grateful that you’re getting out of the house and you don’t want to nag or start an argument, so you mention how worried you are that he or she will act up.

And then, you see your partner start to drink. Your throat starts to tighten and you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. You’re devastated.

But here’s the great news: you don’t need to lose hope. You’re not powerless over this disease. You can take a deep breath and remember that you’re a strong, capable woman. This is just one evening and you can handle it.

You have two choices:

  1. Leave the party without him. Call a cab, Uber, or ask a friend to drive you home.
  2. Say nothing to him when you’re out and make a promise to yourself that next time you will not agree to attend an event with him or her if they are drinking. One warning: if you chose this option to stay out with him or her and say nothing, make sure you get the car keys. Do NOT get in the car with your partner if he or she has been drinking. You could be putting yourself at risk to be a part of a serious accident. If he or she refuses to give you the keys, take option one and call Uber or a friend.

I am here to tell you, my sweet wonderful friend – you’re not alone.

There are thousands of us out there dealing with the exact same issue and you don’t need to stay feeling stuck.

By exercising these choices, you’re choosing to do something about this disease. You’re not just letting it happen to you. You’re providing your loved one with consequences and you’re growing into the courageous, loving woman you were made to be.  

It might seem scary or uncomfortable, but real change never happens when we are repeating old behaviors. I promise you can do it. Have faith in yourself and believe that God made you with so much more courage than you even realize. The Bible tells us ten times to be strong and courageous. God wouldn’t ask you to do something he didn’t equip you for.

You’ve got this. I am right here for you and you’re not alone.

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.

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