How to deal with an alcoholic husband?


Good morning and God bless you and this ministry. My wife and I have a wonderful sister in Christ who has been married to her husband for over 40 years.  Her first husband left her when their son was born because the child was born with autism. Our friend was abandoned at a young age, but she married her current husband who is 10 years older than her. He adopted her child and seemed to be a fantastic husband.

Unfortunately, he was hiding his drinking. It became apparent as the years went on that he is an alcoholic. He caught driving drunk. He later badly hurt another driver and his family. He was arrested again for felony drunk driving.  These led to a complete spiral where they lost everything. She lost her career because of his drinking. All of her savings, including her retirement account, was cashed and spent to cover his court appearances, fines, and penalties.

The son cannot be left alone unsupervised. He does have a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant through a disabilities employment program, but he is incapable of making his own decisions.

Our friend is at her wit's end. They have lost everything. Their house is dilapidated, their car is broken more than it runs, and her husband sneaks off and takes out payday loans to pay for his booze.

She has been faithful to her husband. In the past, she has left, only to be told that he was going to change, but it has been the same old story over and over and over again. In the past, he has beaten her (although not in the last couple of years). He is verbally abusive, uses their autistic son as a pawn against her, and their marriage has disintegrated to the point that they have slept in separate rooms for years.

She has finally resorted to closing herself in her bedroom most of the time just to get away from all the madness. Her son does not understand as he can not empathize. He is incapable and sees everything.


Your friend is clinging to a belief that doesn't exist. She thinks that if she is good enough that her husband will change. As a result, she has supported and enabled his addiction through the years by rescuing him from the consequences of his sin. "A man of great anger will bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again" (Proverbs 19:19). People like her husband have to face the bad consequences of their actions before there is even a hope of change.

The only solution is the one she should have done and stayed with years ago. She needs to separate herself from her husband so he will no longer be a drain. It might mean getting a divorce. It isn't a great option, but she has to consider her future and her son's future at present. This will not allow her to remarry (I Corinthians 7:10-11) but it will get her a chance to put her life back together.

With the separation, she can apply for housing assistance for her and her son, since she is his caretaker. Hopefully, she can find an apartment near where he works and she may need to consider getting a part-time job to rebuild their finances.

What happens to the husband will be up to him. He'll have to not only stop drinking but also pull himself out of his financial mess before she should even consider accepting him back into her home. It sounds harsh, but it is the only hope for him to change before it is eternally too late.


Thank you so much for your taking the time out to reply. We are of one accord in this matter as I too feel it only appropriate as he will not change. Thank you for your insight and help. God bless.

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