How Alcohol Can Cause Problems In Your Relationship

Alcohol use has the potential to affect any close relationships in your life, including those with romantic partners, as those in relationships are inextricably linked.

People in relationships often share homes and short- and long-term goals, engage with one another daily, provide emotional, mental, and financial support, and care for one another. When your partner struggles with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), it impacts the entire family unit as well as the day-to-day functioning of the household. For example, if you abandon important roles and responsibilities as a result of alcohol misuse, family members are left to pick up the slack and take on extra household, childcare, and financial responsibilities as a result.

The additional responsibilities can contribute to increased stress, leading to behavioral, physical, and mental health problems. Studies show that females who are in relationships with males struggling with AUD experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, physical health problems, and occupational and social disruptions.

Signs That Alcohol Is Causing Problems In Your Relationship

There are many signs that alcohol use is causing problems in your relationships, including:

  • Delayed initiation into developmentally appropriate roles – Your partner does not fulfill age-appropriate tasks such as completing school, fails to commit to a healthy romantic relationship, and delays obtaining age-appropriate employment.
  • Delayed attachments and reproductive health – Your partner is not emotionally available, grows emotionally distant, or detaches from the relationship.
  • Interpersonal conflict – You experience increased conflict, disagreements, and fighting (both verbal and physical).
  • You begin to feel less satisfied in your relationship.
  • Your partner makes unwanted sexual advances toward you.
  • You notice an increase in your alcohol consumption.
  • You begin spending more time with your partner in social situations where alcohol is present.

Alcohol, Intimacy, And Infidelity

There is a direct correlation between alcohol use in relationships and the quality of intimacy among partners. More specifically, the severity of relationship distress is influenced by alcohol consumption by one (or both) people’s alcohol consumption.

Intercourse is a form of intimacy, and alcohol addiction can negatively impact this aspect of a relationship by disrupting normal body processes. It can contribute to sexual dysfunction, thereby impacting the quality of sexual intimacy between partners.

Sexual dysfunction refers to the following:

  • Dysfunction in arousal
  • Impairment in desire
  • Dissatisfaction with orgasms
  • Inability to achieve orgasm

Infidelity is another factor that contributes to the quality of intimacy in a relationship. Not only does infidelity break the bond of trust between partners, but it can also be a contributing factor to divorce. Research shows that individuals with AUD are more likely to engage in infidelity than those without AUD.

Alcohol And Domestic Violence

Alcohol consumption is a common factor in situations where domestic violence (DV) has occurred. When a person is intoxicated, their emotions, judgment, and decision-making are impaired. This contributes to the strong correlation between heavy drinking and DV.

Unfortunately, studies consistently demonstrate that, regardless of the sex of the partner with AUD, if at least one person in the relationship has an AUD, the risk of DV is high.

How To Manage Problems With Alcohol in Your Relationship

If your loved one is struggling with an alcohol addiction, there is hope. AUD is a treatable disorder, and you can take steps to support your loved one in their recovery journey. To help motivate your loved one to get the treatment they need, you can:

  • Positively reinforce behaviors that are related to getting help or getting sober.
  • Allow the natural consequences of their alcohol use to impact them.
  • Communicate directly with your loved one about the changes in behavior you want them to make regarding their alcohol consumption.
  • Develop your distress tolerance skills to help you cope with your partner’s AUD.
  • Connect with others who share similar experiences.

Finally, attending couple, family, or individual therapy can help improve the functioning of the family unit. Common therapeutic approaches that can be used in the treatment of individuals with AUD and their partners/families include:

Utilizing these strategies and seeking proper treatment for AUD can improve the lives of all involved and lead to a stronger, healthier relationship in the future.

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Tired Of Alcohol Affecting Your Relationships? Get Help Now

If you feel like alcohol addiction is affecting your relationship, it’s important to know that help is available.

Getting help for alcohol addiction will not only improve your relationships, it can also start you on your path toward a healthier, addiction-free future. Contact a treatment provider today to explore your treatment options.