I believe that my husband is an alcoholic. He is not physically abusive, but it is beginning to have an effect on me and on my children. I know that divorce is wrong in the Catholic Church, but can I tell him to get help “or else”? The “or else” being that he will have to leave. I just don’t think he will change his ways unless he has a reason, and losing his family seems the only option. (This would NOT be just a threat, as I would follow through.) I just need to know if this is a just reason.
Although divorce is always a tragedy, the Church tolerates it for just cause and considers civil divorce to be the equivalent of a legal separation. The spouses are still considered married in the eyes of the Church (and cannot date or remarry unless the first spouse dies or an annulment is granted); but, for purposes of estate settlement and child custody, the civil divorce can be sought. Just cause for a civil divorce can include cases of addiction, particularly when the addiction is detrimental to the family’s well-being.
That said, I strongly encourage you to seek help from a Catholic marriage counselor to determine if divorce or the threat of it is necessary to address your husband’s reported addiction. You can obtain a referral from the Pastoral Solutions Institute or from CatholicTherapists.com.