How to Talk to Your Alcoholic Partner

“Keep it simple and tell the truth.”

This phrase nicely captures the essence of effective communication. Of course there is a lot more that goes into keeping it simple and telling the truth, but using this phrase when learning and practicing communication can be a useful tool when selecting what to say and why you’re saying it.

In this post about how to talk to your partner, we really appreciate the author’s compassion for the partner and the addicted loved one; the author does not blame either person and instead offers a gentle way to encourage changes in communication skills. We also really like the author’s idea of imagining the addiction (not the person with an addiction) as a bully:  “Because alcoholism is a bully, no doubt, and malevolent. As they say in recovery, “it prefers death but will settle for misery.”By seeing addiction as the problem, and not your loved one, it may make it easier to communicate your feelings and work together as a team to solve the problem of addiction.

One quick note:  We might change how you open the conversation with an addicted loved one. The author uses examples that start with “you” (“You came home drunk last night”). When communication is strained or non-existent, the use of “you” at the very start of a conversation may put the person on the defensive. Using “I” statements and offering an invitation to talk first may be helpful strategies when there has been lots of conflict or little/no communication about alcohol/drug use (e.g., “I would like to talk with you about something that is important to me.” Or, “I want to talk with you about what happened last night.”).