“How do I convince someone that he/she has an alcohol problem?” This is an obvious issue that many spouses of those who have an alcohol problem deal with. You have to be careful not to push to hard, yet not enable the person at the same time. So it is about you being clear about your boundaries. How is the problem impeding on your rights? Think about this clearly and I suggest discussing your boundaries and concerns with a couple of close friends that are not necessarily close friend to your spouse. I understand that this can be difficult, but there are reasons for this. When we are talking about the problems of someone that we love, the chances of us rationalizing the behavior greatly increase. Therefore, finding a more neutral party can help you sort through thoughts that you are having, many of which may be contradictory. Also, I stress the importance of talking with more than one friend. If you talk to only one friend, they may pick up on apprehension that you have regarding your own boundaries, and may answer in a way that does not help you set boundaries that would promote change. Speaking with more than one friend, you are more likely to come to some final conclusions about what decisions you need to make and feel more comfortable with them.

You may be still reading this and wondering, “when did this become about me?” I focus the article on the one who is reading because you cannot make someone else change. Instead you can only influence someone’s decision to change. In order to do that, you have to be clear on what it is that you are willing to live with and what you will not accept. If you find yourself allowing your rights to be violated, or if your friends and family report to you that you allow your rights to be violated, then I suggest that you seek professional help. It is important to have a professional help you examine the reasons for  your difficulties establishing and maintaining your boundaries, so that you can have healthier relationships with friends, family, and your partner.

On the other hand, if you are clear about your boundaries, and your  partner or spouse is not respecting them, then you need to inform your partner of them and follow through with the consequences of not respecting this. Set your expectations, what you are going to do until the expectations are reached, and a timeframe that you are going to allow for the goals to be reached.

Make sure as to not ignore the positives in these situations. It is not uncommon for the spouse of an addict to be angry, which can make it difficult to notice more minor improvements. Be sure to notice and make it known that you notice the small, yet positive changes that are taking place.

In summary, you cannot make someone change, but can only influence them to change. You have to be clear on your boundaries to promote change in your spouse’s drinking habits. Do not give up your personal rights to rationalize someone else’s behavior. And before careful to notice the positives that range from minor to major changes. Finally, consider professional help if you are unsure of your boundaries, if your partner says that they are unreasonable, or if you are having difficulties coping with resentful feelings as a result of your partner’s problems.


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