How to cope if your spouse self harms

Start by looking out for yourself.

How to cope if your spouse self harms

Whether it be through flowers, cards, special dinners, or nights out, it’s easy to acknowledge and celebrate a meaningful relationship, especially when it’s uncomplicated and fulfilling.

However, many people are in a relationship with a significant other who grapples with some form of self-destructive behavior. This can manifest as an eating disorder, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, or acts of self-mutilation such as cutting or burning.

If you relate to this, from your own experience or that of a friend or relative, you’ll understand that there can be a deep, even desperate desire to “fix” or “change” the partner in an attempt to help them stop the destructive behavior.

One of the most important things to come to terms with is that no matter how much you love someone, you don’t have the power to make them give up a behavior they are not ready to relinquish. And no matter how much your partner loves you, it’s extremely difficult for them to let go of a self-harming behavior that provides short-term relief or a sense of numbing or self-soothing.

Typically, the self-destructive behavior is just the symptom of deeper, untapped, and unresolved issues that have not been identified, processed, or healed.

Although it’s understandable that your love and concern get harnessed in an effort to “help” your partner, it actually can set you up for feelings of resentment, frustration, anger, and helplessness when all of your attempts inevitably don’t work. These efforts are always well-meaning, but they are often fueled by desperation and anxiety. If your loved one is entrenched in their self-destructive act, they may misinterpret your passion for wanting them to be healthy as judgmental, critical, or motivated by anger. They may accuse you of not being supportive or not understanding their needs and their pain. They might try to rationalize their behaviors as they look for ways to make excuses for or justify what they do.

It’s common for people who self-harm to downplay the seriousness of their excessive drinking, bingeing, purging, starving, cutting, or other addictive behaviors. They also may underestimate or even be oblivious to the impact their actions have on them and on your relationship. Some people are in full denial about their behaviors, even when you have solid, objective evidence that confirms what they have been doing. When your loved one is invested in continuing a behavior, they may act in ways that are selfish and even attempt to “protect” their actions by lying to you.

Without guidance, it is difficult to know how to respond. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you gain clarity about how to navigate a difficult and emotionally charged issue:

Don’t:

  • Obsessively worry about your partner’s behaviors. This has no actual impact on their actions and can emotionally, physically, and mentally deplete you.
  • Attempt to motivate them through guilt by saying things like, “If you loved me enough you’d stop.” This always backfires and creates even more guilt that can fuel the self-destructive behavior.
  • Use shame or humiliation in an attempt to change your partner’s behavior.
  • Take their actions personally. It’s not about you, it’s about their own unresolved issues and pain.
  • Tell your partner that they are “sick” or “need help,” as this can make them even more defensive.
  • Ignore your own responsibilities or right to self-care in order to “cover up” for your partner and the consequences of their self-destructive acts.
  • Collude with secret-keeping.
  • Take on the role of being your partner’s therapist. It’s not your job, and you couldn’t have the objectivity to be effective.

How to cope if your spouse self harms

Do:

  • Let your partner know you love them and you care about their well-being.
  • Show compassion by letting them know that you understand the struggle they are grappling with and how challenging it can feel to let go of something they experience as helpful in the short-term.
  • Tell your partner that “they deserve support” when attempting to connect them to resources.
  • Communicate your belief in their ability to learn new ways to cope and to genuinely heal with professional guidance.
  • Be clear that it is not your problem to fix and that you don’t have the power to change another human being.
  • Get the support that you deserve to safely process any legitimate feelings that surface for you, and to learn how to set and hold appropriate boundaries.
  • Know that you have the right to end a relationship when it is abusive, unfulfilling, one-sided, or when your partner adamantly refuses to do what they need to do to be healthy.

Facebook image: Song_about_summer/Shutterstock

Everyone knows that sometimes marriages just go wrong. It’s nobody’s fault sometimes; two people just don’t mesh the way they once did, or things happen that make life difficult over time. Some ex-couples even stay friends.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

About half the time, divorce comes about because someone is really, really pissed. And the general reason for that? Manipulation of some kind.

If you’re reading this, there’s at least a small chance that you clicked because you’re worried you’re being manipulated in some way. After years in the business of divorce, I have some experience in knowing what spousal manipulation looks like–and also how to deal with it. Basically, it boils down to some pretty obvious signs.

You consistently are made to feel guilty, whether you did anything wrong or not.
Everybody’s wrong sometimes, and everybody cries sometimes (so says R.E.M.). But if you’re in the wrong 100% of the time for years, and your spouse won’t or can’t take responsibility for any wrongdoing, chances are they’re full of it. It takes two, people.

Passive aggressiveness.
You know that thing people do where they say something nice, or helpful, but it makes you feel horrendous? It’s the classic move: pretend to be being helpful while actually being critical, in order to avoid direct confrontation–then deny you meant anything by it, and the other person is clearly overreacting. It’s a cheap way to get an unfair advantage, and it’s highly manipulative.

Gaslighting.
A close cousin of passive aggressiveness, gaslighting is when someone makes you feel crazy. You have an issue with their behavior? You must be crazy. You think they’re making bad choices? You’re clearly crazy. This is most damaging when it goes beyond just saying you’re crazy, to actually acting concerned about it. The secret weapon here: playing on your insecurities. Don’t buy it.

You often feel small.
Feel like your needs don’t matter? If your spouse routinely dismisses what you want or need, minimizes your concerns, and/or calls you “ridiculous,” you’re probably being manipulated.

They isolate you.
One of the more dangerous kinds of manipulation is when, usually in multiple ways, a partner or spouse methodically isolates you from other people. This can come in direct or indirect ways–for example, by demanding you stay away from your friends, or by pretending to be sick every time you want to go out–and is usually a control issue.

They twist your words.
Feel like your spouse is a master at twisting your words into something ugly when they weren’t intended that way? Standard tactic.

They have a pattern of forming relationships with vulnerable people.
Manipulative people like being in relationships where the power dynamic is skewed in their favor. Have you noticed that your spouse’s other relationships are skewed this way? An example is someone who can only have who are significantly less attractive than they are, or someone whose friends are all significantly younger/less experienced/less worldly. The key is that they have to have the advantage in every relationship.

They lie.
If you’ve consistently caught your partner in lies, particularly damaging lies, you can bet there are plenty of lies that you haven’t found out about. Big red flag.

They are distant or emotionally unavailable a lot of the time.
Everyone needs space sometimes, but if you feel like you are being pushed away for weeks or even months at a time, and your partner is unwilling to explain why, it can become a very destructive relationship for you. While there are sometimes extenuating circumstances, like depression, this is still something that needs addressing.

They “punish” you.
If you feel like you get punished when you confront your spouse or disagree with them, that’s not good. Even in the case of real wrongdoing in a marriage, there’s very little point in “punishing” your spouse. Either you deal with the issue, forgive and move on, or you choose not to forgive and move out–but what you shouldn’t do is remain in the relationship while lording the wrongdoing over the partner as a form of power. It’s understandable in some cases, I admit, but ultimately it’s not constructive, and only further damages the relationship.

I do want to say that sometimes these things pop up in even quite happy relationships, and it doesn’t necessarily spell the end. It’s important to be able to have an open conversation about what’s going on: for at least one of you to have the courage to bring it up, and for both of you to talk about what’s going on and why that might be.

Of course, if you’re reading this post you’ve probably been there, done that, and it hasn’t worked–or else you can’t even communicate with your partner about it, because they won’t have it.

At that stage, therapy is an option, and it can help. However, both people have to be committed to improving the relationship, so you’re going to have to prepare for conversation in that case, too.

The final option when you’ve exhausted all others is to muster up the nerve to leave. While difficult, I see people do it every day, and have happier lives afterward; so while it’s perhaps the most difficult option in the short run, in the long run it may be the best decision for you.

Have something to ask, add, or a pithy story to tell? I’m all ears. Leave it in comments below, comment on Facebook, or tweet to me!

How to cope if your spouse self harms

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

This article first appeared on Your Tango and has been republished with permission.

In researching my book The Indestructible Relationship, I interviewed dozens of couples who had suffered through illness and trauma. I compared the couples who made it through their hard times to couples who got a divorce after experiencing something traumatic.

My relationship advice? It takes specific skills to keep your relationship alive during illness, injury or any stressful experience. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the one who is injured or ill or you’re a caregiver for your spouse or significant other. Either way, it can put strain on your partnership.

Even if you have the world’s strongest bond, when you go through something traumatic, life after the incident isn’t going to be the same. And that’s when you need to figure out how to save a relationship. Because you’re playing by new rules, and you’re seeing your romantic partner in a whole new light. And some couples are compatible in every way except for the way they handle stress.

Strong couples shared with me dozens of skills you can use to keep your relationship strong during times of injury, illness, and stress. Here are five of those skills you’ll need if you want to illness-proof and stress-proof your relationship.

1. Start doing things alone.

Resilient couples know that it’s important NOT to sacrifice their social life when their romantic partner is ill. If you’re a caregiver for your ill or injured husband or boyfriend, and you decide to always stay home to watch over him, you may start to resent him for keeping you away from the activities you love.

You might feel guilty for having fun without him. But for the sake of your own mental health, go out with your friends or take a walk in the park. If you want to attend a play or festival but can’t find any friends to go with you, attend it alone. Your romantic partner should be happy you’re getting away and taking time for yourself.

2. Be more flexible.

Let’s say deep down inside you’ve always expected your man to be the primary breadwinner. If your husband is injured or has cancer and can no longer work or take care of you, you may find yourself resenting having to work extra hours to help pay the bills.

From the male perspective, a man who weighs his self-worth on his ability to provide for the family will be devastated if an illness prevents him from going to work. He might even resent his wife when she is forced to become the chief breadwinner in the family.

If you want your relationship to survive this role reversal, become a human rubber band by doing things differently. If you always take a left when you leave your house to take a walk, today turn right. Alternate the streets you walk on every day. If Merlot is your usual choice of wine with dinner, tonight try Chardonnay.

Do things differently and you’ll become more flexible. And flexibility is the key to keeping your relationship alive when things don’t go the way you expect.

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3. Remember that you both own the illness, injury, or stress.

It’s easy when you’re sick to feel sorry for yourself. But remember: as your caregiver, your significant other or spouse is also under a lot of stress. It’s just as hard on him as it is on you.

In The Indestructible Relationship, I tell the moving story of Wayne, who was paralyzed in a football accident a month after his wedding to Barb. They’ve been together 40 years now. But if they hadn’t solved one of their biggest relationship challenges after Wayne’s accident, their story might not have had a happy ending. At first, Wayne didn’t notice Barb’s feelings, her exhaustion, the fact his accident also burdened her.

The scene usually played itself out like this: the moment Barb sat down, Wayne looked at his wife. “I’m thirsty. I need a glass of water.” Sighing, Barb stood up once again, retrieved the water from the kitchen and brought it to her husband. The moment she settled herself into the couch, Wayne presented her with another request.

“I was up and down like a yo-yo,” said Barb. It wasn’t until Wayne learned to stockpile his requests and present them to her all at one time that the couple’s stress subsided.

4. Seek support outside of the relationship.

I’m not talking about having an affair. But let’s say you have cancer or another chronic illness or you’ve been injured at work. You try to talk to your husband or boyfriend about what you’re going through and he just doesn’t understand. Or if you have breast cancer, maybe he’s so afraid of you dying that when you try to talk to him about your own fear of dying, he simply can’t go there.

Instead of getting frustrated, seek support elsewhere. Talk to a friend. Write in a journal. Join a support group and/or a Facebook group of people who are going through the same thing you are.

5. Re-adapt when you’re back in the game.

Let’s say your husband took over a lot of the child-rearing responsibilities while you were going through chemotherapy and radiation. He helped them with their homework. Picked them up from school. Cooked dinner.

When you heal and are ready to resume your previous involvement in your kids’ lives, your husband may not remember how to share the child-rearing responsibility. In some cases, a man in this situation may even resent his wife’s attempts to include herself in the established routine and her making decisions about the kids’ lives she hasn’t been making in months.

To prevent this from happening, allow your hubby to continue to perform some of the child-rearing tasks he took over while you were out of commission, even if these were your responsibilities before the cancer.

These five ways to learn how to save a relationship and keep it illness-proof are only a start. My research revealed there are dozens more specific skills that resilient couples use to make their lives easier — and their relationships stronger — during difficult times.

But by practicing these five skills when one of you is injured, ill, or even experiencing something stressful like being out of work, there’s a better chance that while your body may not be healthy, your relationship definitely will be.

How to cope if your spouse self harms

In This Article

If you’re wondering how to deal with a sociopath, we can assume that you have a very well-founded belief that your spouse is one.

And if you do have doubts about this, they probably are . More precisely, chances are that you knew this all along, but were tricked into second-guessing your instincts.

As this article will show you, sociopaths are master manipulators.

They will make you question your sanity, they will change your personality, and make you incapable of thinking straight. To deal with a sociopath, you first need to understand what’s going on.

Mr. Right

This article will speak of sociopaths as males, for the sake of convenience, but the same applies to women sociopaths.

They can be equally abusive and destructive. So, when you first meet the sociopath, you will think that you have just been blessed by God. You won’t be able to believe how absolutely perfect the guy was!

He will be saying the right things, doing the right things, smiling the right way. Just plain flawless.

But, let’s break the myth right away. He’s not. In fact, he might be the furthest from perfect possible.

What he truly is, is a manipulator. The best of his kind. And what he also is, is a person breathing and living control over others.

He can read others like children books, and he will always use this to gain control over them. Which is why he seems like the perfect guy for you – he needs you under his spell, and he knows exactly how to do it.

How the reality begins to twist

With every day, your world will begin to change once you have gotten engaged with a sociopath. The moment he feels he has control over you the honeymoon phase will disappear. For good.

Although, you can expect Mr. Right to stop by occasionally, as he needs him so that he can maintain control over you in every way. Fairly soon after you have started your relationship, the sociopath will begin to show his inner ugliness.

This might be a very nasty, insensitive, and often dangerous side of him. But you will believe that it’s just a temporary weakness, just a slight character flaw.

You will be certain that Mr. Right is who he really is. But, the reality of things is – he’s not. Mr. Right was a mask . Who he really is , is this impulsive, manipulative, aggressive, and abusive man. He will stay like that forever, don’t be fooled to think otherwise.

Your new life

Sooner than you think, you will find yourself in a highly abusive relationship. Sociopaths are no strangers to verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse .

After they have seduced you enough for you to fall in love, they will slowly begin to use all tools of manipulation there are. They will separate you from your friends and family.

They will make you doubt your every thought. They will make you lose yourself.

At one point in your life, you’ll look at yourself and realize that all you do is bending over backward to please your sociopathic husband.

And it is never good enough. You will follow the rules, even when he’s not there. You will be constantly walking on eggshells. You will be alone, exhausted, and lost. You will not know how to leave when you finally get to the point of realizing that you need to.

5 essentials to deal with a sociopath spouse

1. Understand what’s going on

What we talked about is just marriage with a sociopath in a nutshell.

You need to educate yourself on manipulation, mind control, and abuse, as well as on sociopathy, and understand how this relates to your life.

Observe patterns and their effects on you.

2. Re-establish contact with your friends and family

Isolation is one of the main tools of a sociopath to be able to control you better.

We know it’s easier said than done, but you should think of ways to slowly re-establish relationships with other people in your life.

3. Get rest

Another means of control that the sociopath uses is keeping you exhausted and sleep-deprived.

Whether it is by making you take care of children on your own, making you work like crazy, take care of the household, or keeping you up fighting with him, he uses this as a weapon. Make sure you get rest any way possible.

4. Get professional help

If dealing with a sociopath is getting out of hand you should really think of getting professional help by someone who understands sociopathy, is objective, and can help you get out – psychotherapists , attorneys, social workers.

5. Get out of there

Finally, the only way to survive marriage with a sociopath is to get out of it.

It might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but keep living with him is far worse. Save your life and get out.

How to cope if your spouse self harms

In researching my book The Indestructible Relationship, I interviewed dozens of couples who had suffered through illness and trauma. I compared the couples who made it through their hard times to couples who got a divorce after experiencing something traumatic.

My relationship advice? It takes specific skills to keep your relationship alive during illness, injury or any stressful experience. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the one who is injured or ill or you’re a caregiver for your spouse or significant other. Either way, it can put strain on your partnership.

Even if you have the world’s strongest bond, when you go through something traumatic, life after the incident isn’t going to be the same. And that’s when you need to figure out how to save a relationship. Because you’re playing by new rules, and you’re seeing your romantic partner in a whole new light. And some couples are compatible in every way except for the way they handle stress.

Strong couples shared with me dozens of skills you can use to keep your relationship strong during times of injury, illness, and stress. Here are five of those skills you’ll need if you want to illness-proof and stress-proof your relationship.

1. Start doing things alone.

Resilient couples know that it’s important NOT to sacrifice their social life when their romantic partner is ill. If you’re a caregiver for your ill or injured husband or boyfriend, and you decide to always stay home to watch over him, you may start to resent him for keeping you away from the activities you love.

You might feel guilty for having fun without him. But for the sake of your own mental health, go out with your friends or take a walk in the park. If you want to attend a play or festival but can’t find any friends to go with you, attend it alone. Your romantic partner should be happy you’re getting away and taking time for yourself.

2. Be more flexible.

Let’s say deep down inside you’ve always expected your man to be the primary breadwinner. If your husband is injured or has cancer and can no longer work or take care of you, you may find yourself resenting having to work extra hours to help pay the bills.

From the male perspective, a man who weighs his self-worth on his ability to provide for the family will be devastated if an illness prevents him from going to work. He might even resent his wife when she is forced to become the chief breadwinner in the family.

If you want your relationship to survive this role reversal, become a human rubber band by doing things differently. If you always take a left when you leave your house to take a walk, today turn right. Alternate the streets you walk on every day. If Merlot is your usual choice of wine with dinner, tonight try Chardonnay.

Do things differently and you’ll become more flexible. And flexibility is the key to keeping your relationship alive when things don’t go the way you expect.

3. Remember that you both own the illness, injury, or stress.

It’s easy when you’re sick to feel sorry for yourself. But remember: as your caregiver, your significant other or spouse is also under a lot of stress. It’s just as hard on him as it is on you.

In The Indestructible Relationship, I tell the moving story of Wayne, who was paralyzed in a football accident a month after his wedding to Barb. They’ve been together 40 years now. But if they hadn’t solved one of their biggest relationship challenges after Wayne’s accident, their story might not have had a happy ending. At first, Wayne didn’t notice Barb’s feelings, her exhaustion, the fact his accident also burdened her.

The scene usually played itself out like this: the moment Barb sat down, Wayne looked at his wife. “I’m thirsty. I need a glass of water.” Sighing, Barb stood up once again, retrieved the water from the kitchen and brought it to her husband. The moment she settled herself into the couch, Wayne presented her with another request.

“I was up and down like a yo-yo,” said Barb. It wasn’t until Wayne learned to stockpile his requests and present them to her all at one time that the couple’s stress subsided.

4. Seek support outside of the relationship.

I’m not talking about having an affair. But let’s say you have cancer or another chronic illness or you’ve been injured at work. You try to talk to your husband or boyfriend about what you’re going through and he just doesn’t understand. Or if you have breast cancer, maybe he’s so afraid of you dying that when you try to talk to him about your own fear of dying, he simply can’t go there.

Instead of getting frustrated, seek support elsewhere. Talk to a friend. Write in a journal. Join a support group and/or a Facebook group of people who are going through the same thing you are.

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5. Re-adapt when you’re back in the game.

Let’s say your husband took over a lot of the child-rearing responsibilities while you were going through chemotherapy and radiation. He helped them with their homework. Picked them up from school. Cooked dinner.

When you heal and are ready to resume your previous involvement in your kids’ lives, your husband may not remember how to share the child-rearing responsibility. In some cases, a man in this situation may even resent his wife’s attempts to include herself in the established routine and her making decisions about the kids’ lives she hasn’t been making in months.

To prevent this from happening, allow your hubby to continue to perform some of the child-rearing tasks he took over while you were out of commission, even if these were your responsibilities before the cancer.

These five ways to learn how to save a relationship and keep it illness-proof are only a start. My research revealed there are dozens more specific skills that resilient couples use to make their lives easier — and their relationships stronger — during difficult times.

But by practicing these five skills when one of you is injured, ill, or even experiencing something stressful like being out of work, there’s a better chance that while your body may not be healthy, your relationship definitely will be.

Using self-comfort skills to reduce non-suicidal self-injury

Posted March 12, 2018

How to cope if your spouse self harms

When a child deliberately self-injures it’s viewed as a method to communicate what cannot be spoken.

With self-harm, also clinically known as Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI), the skin is the canvas and the cut, burn or bruise is the what illustrates the picture.

Most children who self-injure have difficulties with emotional expression. The clinical term for this experience is Alexithymia – and is defined as the inability to recognize emotions, their subtleties and textures, and difficulty understanding or describing thoughts and feelings.

Many children who self-harm struggle with internal conflicts, usually with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. They could also be struggling with emotional, sexual or physical abuse, eating disorders, gender identity or emerging personality disorders.

Children who engage in NSSI find it hard to verbalize feelings and, instead, act them out by self-injuring. Gender studies indicate girls self-harm more than boys. And other data shows non-suicidal self-injury can lead to deliberate suicide.

5 Tips for Reducing Self-Injury in Your Child

1) Create an emergency kit. Use a shoe box, plastic zip bag or other storage container to place positive items to use when an urge hits. Things like photos of friends and family, pictures of idols or heroes, inspiring quotes, uplifting notes, a journal for writing, markers or art supplies for creative expression, a beloved stuffed animal, a CD mix of upbeat music, favorite scents, and other things your child may find soothing. This emergency kit is to be used to help soothe your child when he or she is feeling like self-harming.

2) Use positive imagery. Help your child strengthen her visualization skills by practicing some yourself. Talk aloud as you describe a beautiful beach scene – or how it feels watching the trees sway in the wind. Conjure up positive memories of places or things you’ve seen, studies show that describing them in vivid details offers mood enhancing benefits. Whatever soothing images move you, make sure you share and show them with your child. Modeling problem solving strategies in front of your child increases the likelihood she will too. Ask your child to find positive images that mean something – and to call on them to help disrupt the self-harming urges. There are also guided imagery and mindfulness relaxation apps your child can access for their phone or tablets.

3) Point out triggers. Help your child become aware of the events that weaken his resolve. If it’s a test coming up in school, a social event or a dentist appointment, talk about how the days leading up to it can feel stressful. Help him learn what kinds of experiences make him sad or irritable. Share what your own triggers are and how you deal with them. Becoming aware of triggers helps your child anticipate negative feelings. Having this advanced warning prevents him from being blindsided emotionally. It allows him to have self-comforting skills at-the-ready.

4) Take a detour. If your child can’t fight the urge, help her re-route self-harm by using less severe activities. For example, holding an ice cube, tearing paper, shredding a sheet, snapping a rubber band, sucking a lemon peel, pounding a pillow are other ways to diminish the need to self-injure. Suggest the high octane activities like of running or dancing, jumping rope or a good game of chase with the family dog to offset urges. The rush of adrenaline from these positive behaviors produces the same chemical surge that comes from self-injury

5) Forgive slips. As your child tries to interrupt self-harming behaviors, know it will not come easily. It’s rare that a child, or even an adult for that matter, can stop self-harm cold turkey. There will be days or even weeks when he does well, followed by a set-back. Should you find that he’s lapsed into self-harming, compassionately remind him that change takes time – and that you know he’ll find his way again. Offering nonjudgmental support is crucial for recovery. Research shows that shame, criticism or over-reaction when parents see a wound causes children to withdraw back into self-harming behaviors.

6) Seek professional help. It’s vital to assess what kinds of issues your child is struggling with when self harm occurs. A trained therapist will help you understand the cycle of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, will offer techniques to reduce symptoms, and evaluate for other concerning behaviors.

How to cope if your spouse self harms

Dealing with an alcoholic parent or an alcoholic spouse is difficult.

Fortunately, there are ways to cope without losing your peace and sense of self-worth.

Here are 10 ways to protect yourself when dealing with an alcoholic spouse or parent.

1. Make sure there are boundaries.

Maybe you still want the alcoholic spouse or parent to be involved in your life and the lives of your children, but you’re not comfortable with putting your kids in potentially harmful situations.

Set boundaries with your loved one and discuss them openly. For example, you can tell them that if they’re acting in a drunken and out of control manner, you’ll leave or ask them to leave.

Make sure they understand that you’re not there to fill the role of handling their problems, but to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe.

If you ever feel like you or your family’s safety is jeopardized, you’re allowed to protect your family at all costs. If this means no visits, then so be it.

Don’t interact with your alcoholic loved one when they’re drunk and make any family get-togethers completely alcohol-free. If you’re aware that they drink after a certain time of day, avoid contact with them altogether.

2. Understand the tension that alcohol will cause.

The more someone tends to drink is usually in direct proportion to how many problems exist within a family.

Once children of alcoholic parents get older, they can become extremely sensitive to alcohol overall. Any little thing can trigger that, whether it means seeing their parent drinking or even seeing other members of the family going overboard.

Always make sure that you can get out of a situation if you’re not comfortable and need space.

It can be hard to accept the family situation in this way, but it’s impossible to think that you’ll change their behavior.

3. Talk to your alcoholic parent or spouse with realistic expectations.

At some point, you’ll realize that you’re not going to stop your alcoholic loved one from drinking. And even if you’ve heard many times that they’ll quit, it’s up to them at the end of the day to kick the habit.

Don’t allow yourself to be too hopeful when it comes to promises made, or else you’ll just keep on feeling let down.

What you can do is talk to them while they’re sober about how their behavior makes you feel and affects you. If they’re unable to understand where you’re coming from, give them examples of particular incidents that may have occurred.

4. Stop taking responsibility.

As much as you feel like you want to take care of your alcoholic spouse or parent and help them stop drinking, your actions can cause even more hurt for you later on.

While you think you’re helping them by pouring their stuff down the drain, this can make them even angrier and, often, things only get worse.

Understand that their behavior is not your fault. You’re not the reason for their drinking problem, and therefore, nothing you do can solve this for them.

5. Accept how you feel.

You’re going to experience many different emotions. It’s important to remember that you accept all of it for what it is.

Conflicting emotions are more common than you think, but there are ways to process your feelings so they do not affect you.

Journal your feelings in all their rawness, get it out. Write a letter that you’ll never send, and just let it all out there as if the person was right in front of you.

Note: I have personally found the act of writing forgiveness letters an amazing way to help people experience their feelings and deal with them so that they don’t manifest into anything harmful.

6. Find ways to cope.

Look for ways to cope with stress in healthy ways. Things like exercise help you let go of stress and leave you feeling lighter.

Start a dance class and shake off the problems. Join a hiking group and experience your surroundings. Do things that you enjoy on a regular basis.

It’s so important to take that time for yourself to clear your head.

7. Talk to someone.

There’s no reason you need to keep all this to yourself. Talk to someone you trust about what you’re feeling and what you’ve experienced.

You’ll feel better, and more importantly, you won’t feel like you’re facing this situation alone. This can make all the difference.

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8. Create meaningful relationships.

Having a parent who has a drinking problem can result in their children finding it difficult to have meaningful relationships as adults.

Constantly needing to feel reassured as a result of how your parent may have treated you can have dire consequences on relationships.

You may also look for the things you feel you never got from the relationship and end up attracting the wrong type of person into your life, which will only cause you more harm.

9. Reach out to a support group.

You can be assured that you’re not the only person who is experiencing this. Joining a support group can be really helpful on your journey to healing.

It’s a great way to share your feelings, connect with others who have experienced similar things, and get the support you need while you also give others the support they need.

10. Consider therapy.

Being a child of an alcoholic parent can lead you to feel depressed, have low self-esteem, and experience feelings of isolation, shame, and emotional distress.

Getting the right support increases your self-worth and can impact all areas of life in a tremendous way.

Those I’ve worked with have noticed that after healing the past and increasing self-worth, they have the confidence to go for that promotion, they look and feel healthier, and are more motivated to pick up healthy habits while dropping unsupportive ones.

They have attracted relationships that serve them, both in friendships and romantic partners. They know how to set healthy boundaries with toxic people.

Our current relationships are always a mirror of how we see and treat ourselves. We attract people into our lives based on how much we love and view ourselves.

Getting counseling online or in-person can free you from the past and help you to work through your emotions, change your mindset in how you approach your spouse or parent, and help you to build skills to cope with their behavior without it draining and consuming you.

How to cope if your spouse self harms

In This Article

The effects of being married to a narcissist are significant and can take a toll on the way one lives.

Being married to a narcissist means that you are prone to be lied to, devalued, and worse, abused. Recovering from a marriage to a narcissist is difficult, but it is possible. The coping strategies in this article may help.

It’s not going to be easy

Recovering from a divorce or a relationship is not easy.

But recovering from being married to a narcissist is even more difficult. It may be more challenging to recover from a narcissistic relationship compared to a healthy relationship often because of the trust issues that will be raised.

It is difficult to reflect back on a relationship with a narcissist; one can’t help but ask, “was everything just a lie?”

You may well have dismissed all of the tell-tale signs; you may have ignored the red flags because you loved your spouse.

The magnitude of your situation and realization that it could have been avoided could bring on a massive wave of feelings related to self-blame and self-deprecation because you allowed yourself to be fooled by the narcissist.

But you are not alone; this is a typical response to being married to a narcissist. The first step to recovery is to acknowledge this reaction, as mentioned hereon.

Effects of being married to a narcissist

1. You might question your sanity

You may form a sense of doubt about the integrity of the friends and family of your narcissistic spouse which can be difficult if there are children or mutual friendships between you.

2. You begin to gain a feeling of loneliness

You can’t trust your significant other, so how can you form a new relationship?

You do not feel any worth. You start to lose your confidence when it comes to your own decision making.

3. You begin to lose enthusiasm

You start to lose that cheerful feeling for accomplishing any difficult task. You may begin to feel as if you owe all of your successes to the narcissist if you are still in the relationship.

4. You give in to whatever the narcissist demands

You can also begin experiencing the dissonance between your wants and needs versus other people’s – such as the narcissist.

Perhaps you have become accustomed to giving in to the narcissist’s demands. During recovery, you will learn to shift away from that mindset, which can be difficult.

5. You’ll probably be more aware of your faults even the ones that don’t exist

Your very own contributions were devalued, and so you might continue to devalue them.

You’ll probably be more aware of your faults and mistakes, even the ones that don’t exist. You are used to molding yourself to fit your narcissist’s demands, which has now become a habit.

It will take time and effort to retrain yourself to find yourself again. You are likely to have forgotten how to meet your own needs or put yourself first.

6. Trust issues

Your ability to trust others or yourself is likely to be extremely low.

7. A narcissist will have exercised control over you

The long-term effects of being married to a narcissist can leave you feeling disempowered in a number of ways. It can be a traumatic experience.

Steps to recover

As with any traumatic experience, you can recover.

It will take willpower and a strong sense of determination to do so, but you can recover from the effects of being married to a narcissist.

Here are a few tips to help you along the way

Forgive yourself

The first step to recovery is forgiving yourself.

When you forgive yourself, you give yourself the opportunity and freedom to move forward in your life, which is your right. It was what it was and now it’s safe to let go and forgive yourself. Remember, it wasn’t your fault.

Do not generalize

Even if you do not get into a new relationship following a divorce from a narcissistic spouse, it is easy to start to make sweeping statements or hold generalistic beliefs such as; “all men/women are abusive” or “all men/women are manipulators.”

It’s important to notice when this happens, and best to take a step back and remind yourself that one bad experience shouldn’t destroy any of your chances to free yourself from a bitter heart.

Detox your mind through mindfulness

When you lived within the bounds of a narcissistic partner, all of your efforts and achievements may have been directed toward pleasing them.

Detox your mind by letting go of all of the toxicity brought about by your relationship with a narcissist.

Do your very best to release all of the pain and finally breathe on your own. A method you can use is mindfulness.

Mindfulness means bringing to your attention and accepting one’s feelings thoughts and bodily sensations into the present moment. This is a therapeutic method to start letting go of your past painful experience.

You can begin your journey to mindfulness by keeping a journal and practicing meditation.

It can be tough because it might reopen some wounds that you would prefer to keep buried but buried wounds still cause harm, it’s better to dig it out and heal properly. If you do feel the need to cry, then cry. If you feel the need to be angry, be angry.

“As time goes on, you’ll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn’t, doesn’t. Time solves most things. And what time can’t solve, you have to solve yourself.” ― Haruki Murakami

These are emotions that you need to release and they will pass. Let them go.