Ask a Coach: Heavy Drinking in a Spouse

November 22, 2017 | Teresa Kaltenbach, peer loved one coach

Q: My husband drinks too much but refuses to get help. What can I do?

A: I bet you’re probably dealing with a lot of conflict around this issue. The fact is, you can’t force your spouse to do anything. But there are some effective techniques to positively motivate your husband to change. 

It starts with trying some new ways of communicating and interacting. The goal is to reduce conflict and tension so he’ll be more open to hearing you and eventually taking steps to make a change. Even if they’re small steps, he’ll still be moving in the right direction. 

When you’re frustrated, you might feel like giving him the cold shoulder or issuing threats, but these often don’t work. It can be more effective to use strategies that are non-confrontational and supportive.

For example, you can try using positive reinforcement when your husband cuts back on his drinking or engages in other healthy behaviors.

One thing that’s sometimes hard to do is take a look at your own patterns. You might start to recognize situations where your previous approaches haven’t worked. Next time, you can try some new strategies. 

Lastly, it’s probably most important to focus on your own physical and mental health. We often see that as loved ones start to get well, their unwell family member makes progress too. 

Your quality of life is so important. I encourage you to make an appointment with one of our coaches to help you get started.