Thursday, 15 June 2017

Drinking and Divorce

There was a fabulous article in the Daily Mail yesterday which asked Why are so many women drinking their way to divorce?

For the full article, click here.

According to the article, a recent study showed that more and more marriages are breaking down because of the wife's excessive drinking. It's thought to contribute to as many as one in seven divorces.

I can see how that can so easily be the case, as I get so many e-mails from women telling me that their husbands have given them an ultimatum: either the booze goes, or I do.

Looking back, I see now that alcohol was the root cause of many of my marital arguments. There were a few spectacular ones, like the Finnish wedding.

Mr SM had known the groom since they were at school together at the age of ten. They also spent a memorable year, after they graduated, living in St Petersburg, where Mr SM learned to speak rather ropey, but extremely sexy, Russian.

The wedding venue was stunning - the bride's family summer house on the edge of a Fjord, in the height of summer when, that far North, it never gets dark. At about 2am the light would get a little dusky, but a couple of hours later the relentless bright sunshine would return.

We had a ball. Being just over a narrow sea from Russia, there was a vodka and caviar bar which we made the most of, then a lavish wedding feast of reindeer, washed down with endless enthusiastic toasts of unpronounceable finnish spirits.

At about three in the morning, the last coach was leaving for the hotel, half an hour away. Mr SM was having so much fun with the fins in the sauna that he refused to come back with me.

They were all sitting in the heat, naked and sweating, while Mr SM sang 'Fins can only get better' (that joke must have worn thin after a while). Then they'd run at full pelt down a wooden jetty and dive into the ice-cold fjord.

I lost it. We had a screaming row, and then I sat on the floor of the bus (there were no seats left) telling all the bemused (and rather concerned) passengers at great length how Mr SM had never truly loved me and it was all over.

Mr SM managed to get a lift back in the boot of someone’s car about an hour later. We both woke up, terribly hungover, at around lunch time having forgotten most of the detail of our very public meltdown, and couldn’t understand why everyone was looking at us strangely and asking if we were ‘okay.’

The vast majority of our alcohol based arguments were, however, nothing like as dramatic as the Finnish one. Just the endless tetchy debates (when hungover) about who was going to feed the baby at 5am, or take the toddler to a party where you’d have to clap and sing and participate.

Then, after a few glasses of wine in the evening, the drunken fights (inevitably started by me) about who wasn’t pulling their weight around the house, or with the childcare.

I’m sure that every married couple has these sorts of arguments, but the problems start when the majority of your conversations end up like this.

Marriage is like a piggy bank. Every time you do something nice, thoughtful or generous for the other person you put money into the bank, and every time you treat them badly, thoughtlessly or carelessly to take money out. If you’re not careful, eventually the piggy bank is empty.

The other issue with drinking in a marriage is that excessive alcohol use leads to self-hatred, anxiety and depression, all of which make it very difficult to focus properly on your relationship, to top up that piggy bank.

Yet, even when we know we're destroying our relationships we carry on. Why?

Because we assume that life without booze just won't be worth living.

Well, that's where you're wrong. It's ten times better. So please, just do it. Before it's too late.

Love SM x


  1. Ok
    I am reading Judge Judy's book Beauty Fades Dumb is Forever and it is a wonderful very short read that I just started.
    I did not think anything could top this today in the reading department until I saw this.

    Excellent - the drama of alcohol, the alcohol-is-making-me-honest-and-say-the-truth type of marital fight. What crap, what imbalance. The Finnish Experience is so funny - and yes.... the Russian element is very hot :)

    Fantastic post - thank you so much
    Michelle xx

  2. PS: This was my relationship at the end:

    "She warns: ‘Men can unwittingly act as “enablers”, escalating their partner’s alcohol intake. To persuade a wife to stop drinking could limit a husband’s freedom. After all, if a wife is drinking she’s less likely to be bothered about what time her partner is coming home for example, so he will often persuade her to carry on.’

  3. That's a good article and great post SM. I think it's definitely true that alcohol can destroy relationships - but not necessarily true that sobriety can fix them. At least when you're sober you can face your relationship issues for what they really are. Good to hear these stories coming out though. There seem to be more and more items and articles about going sober making it to the mainstream press. I think your book is coming at just the right time!

  4. I've been married 20 years and from the start I drank regularly. Then five years into the marriage, I drank to get drunk more days out of the week then not. How my husband stayed with me through the craziness, I do not know. But in the past two years, with me trying to stop drinking, having some momentum, my husband knows I want to stop for good. In the past 12 days, while it has been hard, it has been best for our relationship. It can only get better, as I continue to stay alcohol free.

    I truly enjoy have you continue to share your story, but appreciate the added information you provide on the many awful influences of alcohol. It really is an ugly drug in so many ways.

  5. Fab story!!! And very funny!!

    Omg I've had so many drunken fall outs with my hubbie over somthing that was so important at the time then you wake up and can't even remember what it was!!!! My problem was after a drink I couldn't let things go, I was literally like a jack Russell with a bone!!!! I know it drove my hubbie crazy. Now the sober me just says what I think ( as calmly as possible!) then I try to move on and mostly I can. Just feel calmer in general really. So that's all good!

    And he definitely doesn't miss, picking me up of the floor, insulting people for no reason and refusing to go home at the end of the night! Cringe!

    Happy sober sunny weekend hope you all get some sunshine! Xxxxxx

  6. Amen
    The hardest ones were arguments where I felt hard done by. I just never felt seen. Of course, that was because I was hiding behind so much fear and self anger.

    Not anymore.

  7. My marriage isn't great. Sometimes it was easier to cope when I was drinking but now I feel much more in control of what I'm saying and less likely to lash out and say things I regret. Or forget! I never have to worry about what I've said any more as I am either able to hold my tongue or be very careful about what I say. Many times I have taken responsibility for an argument because I couldn't remember what happened but we argue less now and I always remember my part in things. My husband always blamed me for picking fights but can't do that anymore. Any fights we have had since I stopped drinking have been started by him and I wonder how many years this was the case and i was just taking the blame.... not any more.

  8. Great post SM. Yes I concur - I'm much calmer sober - fewer unnnecessary arguments. The fact the Mr SFM put up with some of my drunken antics just shows quite how much he loves me. I know he did not care for that behaviour though. I feel sure that I would have driven the marriage to failure eventually if I had continued drinking. Well phew - I found SM's blog and my life and my marriage were saved!!!!! Hope you're well lovely lady.

  9. One of the best things about being sober is that we CAN have an argument without the screaming meltdown (always me). Now, the arguments are more like 'debates", they are not started by me throwing a tantrum, and I can say what I'm annoyed about without all the drama.

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  11. My marriage has been tarnished by years of drinking. By both of us. We both have a long history of escalating arguments due to alcohol. Being the sober one in my marriage (last time and this time) is challenging, but my path is my own and his path is his. Or at least that's what I try to remember when I want to fix him instead of focusing on fixing myself.