How does having an alcoholic spouse affect your holiday season? Is this a time of year you dread because you have to attend parties with a partner whom you fear will get drunk and then behave badly? In fact, do you turn down invitations when you’d prefer to be socializing and celebrating the season, all because of the risk of embarrassment or worse caused by your alcoholic spouse?

Some might profess me fortunate. My alcoholic husband didn’t much like to socialize. Actually, that might not be too surprising. Some alcoholics don’t like to go to dinner parties and such because they fear the alcohol—or their preferred type of alcoholic beverage—might not keep flowing as freely as they would hope for. Also, some might realize it isn’t the best idea to attend parties where there is the possibility of getting drunk, behaving badly in front of work colleagues, and then perhaps being fired from a valued job.

Does it surprise you an alcoholic might be cognizant of this, and then take steps to avoid producing such an outcome? If so, remember that with the alcoholic, usually the first group of people to realize the individual has a problem are the family members. The last group of people to know are typically those with whom the alcoholic works. In other words, by the time it is obvious at the place of employment that the alcoholic is indeed an alcoholic, and therefore might not be the best or most reliable employee after all, the disease of alcoholism has progressed quite far along a path which is typically a progressive downward slide, at least unless there is some form of intervention. And as long as you are being an enabling or codependent spouse, that isn’t apt to happen.

How did I show my codependency and enabling behavior during the holiday season (and throughout the year, too)? I went to numerous parties alone. Well, it isn’t like I went to that many parties; I don’t want to give you the idea I was some type of party animal back then. However, if I went to a party, I went by myself.

Fortunately, I was invited to some parties where it was reasonably comfortable for me to do this, though it wouldn’t have been my first choice to do so, certainly. Of course, when I had first envisioned what my life with this man would be like, I hadn’t suspected I’d be dreading the holidays and going to Christmas parties alone. Indeed, I had never suspected my life would one day be so changed and sculpted by my husband’s alcoholism.

It is easy to feel sorry for yourself this time of year when you have a spouse who suffers from alcoholism. During those days my partner wasn’t drinking—I confess he was a recovering alcoholic when I married him, but I was naïve enough about alcoholism then to not realize I could practically count upon him relapsing—I typically didn’t mind not drinking, either. I had never been more than a social drinker anyway, so it didn’t seem like that huge a sacrifice. Okay, he professed he didn’t mind if I drank in his presence, but I certainly never kept alcohol in the house. If I did have a drink in front of him, it was in a restaurant.

At Christmastime, though, I was used to celebrating with family and friends who had always prepared special holiday drinks. I was programmed to believe they were as much a part of the season as the cookies and other goodies we so often indulged in to the detriment of our waistlines. Nonetheless, year after year I didn’t drink; I went without so as to support my spouse’s sobriety.

After my husband entered treatment, I discovered I wasn’t the only wife of an alcoholic who had come to despise the holidays, primarily because of the drinking habits of an alcoholic spouse, as well as the type of behaviors his drinking could lead to that might prove embarrassing. Yes, while my husband was in an alcohol and substance abuse treatment program far away from home, and I was visiting him over their family weekend, I heard other family members talk about such things, too. The alcoholics in treatment were present in the room.

I started off the conversation regarding the holiday season, pointing out how I had once loved it, but now had come to rather dread it instead. I was shocked when this dignified older woman jumped in and started talking about how tough the holidays had been for her, and how she came to despise them as well because of her husband’s drinking. At the time, she was sitting there with her husband and daughter, both recovering alcoholics, because her adult son was now being treated for his alcoholism.

My husband had befriended this man, and so I knew about his situation and who his family was. They had intervened and gotten him into treatment after he showed up drunk at the airport adamant upon flying the family jet to Europe.

They were an extremely wealthy family. They were also living proof that money can’t keep a family from having to deal with heart wrenching situations. The wherewithal to throw extravagant parties doesn’t necessarily ensure a joyous holiday season.

This woman spoke about how Christmastime always proved difficult because she was forced to throw such parties, and primarily because of the family’s prominence and their business. Her husband was obviously able to hide his alcoholism when he sat at the pinnacle of success, leading this renowned company. But this woman knew that at each and every one of the parties she hosted, no matter how dignified she might try to make it, people would look at her with eyes filled with question marks.

“I finally got to the point where I just looked back at them, and told them straight forwardly that my husband was an alcoholic,” she told the group. “After I did that, the dinners and parties became less stressful.”

Are you causing yourself undue stress and emotional pain because you are struggling to keep up appearances like a good codependent partner invariably is inclined to do? It might it be easier, as this woman discovered, to let people know your spouse is an alcoholic and, as much as you might prefer otherwise, you are not going to change his or her behavior.

Couldn’t it feel good to take this one step towards being codependent no more? I suspect it might, plus perhaps you will come to enjoy the holidays just a little bit more.

Author's Bio: 

Author Diane England, Ph.D. writes primarily on his narcisssism, addictions, and abuse plus her codependency as well as recovery via self development and spiritual growth. For more free articles, visit her website, And while you're there, sign up for her newsletter. Stop feeling so alone in your misery.