Sunday, 19 June 2016

Partners Who Drink

One of the questions I get asked most by e-mail is How can I quit drinking if my partner still drinks?

If you wait until you reach rock bottom before you try to quit, your partner, friends and loved ones (if they're still talking to you) are generally begging you to stop. It's obvious to everyone that you're slowly killing yourself.

However, if you - very wisely - decide to stop drinking well before you get to that point, you're more likely to be met with bemusement, antipathy, maybe even hostility.

I know that Mr SM thought I drank too much, as did my mother. Both of them had mentioned it, gently, once or twice. BUT neither of them expected me to actually quit. They wanted me to cut down. Moderate (ha ha). Be more like them.

Now I'm able to look at things with the benefit of hindsight, I thought it might be worth going through all the things we're scared of so I might be able to reassure you a little, if you are now where I was then.

1. He will not support me

The big question here is does he have a drink problem too?

If your partner is a 'normie' then you will probably find he is way more supportive than you expect. 'Fess up. Sit him down and tell him how bad the drink is making you feel. I bet he's been worried about you, or - if not - he will be by the time you've had that conversation!

Plus, here's an amazing thing you discover when you get sober - other people are WAY less bothered by alcohol than we are. 

For us, the idea of having a partner who DOESN'T DRINK was horrifying! No partner in crime - yikes! However, for them, drinking - or not drinking - is much more of a non-issue. A case of 'whatever.'

Even if your partner is a little apprehensive at first, they may well come to see the benefits. Mr SM loves the fact that he now drinks a lot less - he's slimmer, healthier and happier now that I'm not cajoling him into drinking half a bottle of wine every night.

HOWEVER, if your partner also has a drink problem, he will not like the idea of you quitting AT ALL. This will inevitably make your life a lot harder, as you'll probably have to deal with him trying to persuade you to 'just have the one', as well as the wine witch.

All I can advise here is that you stay strong. Remember why he's being unsupportive. It's not because he doesn't love you, it's because you're making him confront his own demons.

Remind yourself that you're doing this for yourself, and that, in doing so, you may also help him. The best way to persuade someone else to quit drinking isn't by nagging (as we all know, only too well) but by showing them that it's not only possible, but miraculous.

2. How can I quit when there's booze in the house?

I never emptied the booze cupboard or the wine racks. I also never asked Mr SM to stop drinking in front of me. I figured that the world is full of alcohol and of people drinking. We can't change that, so we might as well get used to it.

Plus I was worried that if I asked Mr SM to majorly change his own lifestyle he'd be less supportive.

Actually, within a pretty short space of time, Mr SM cut down on his own drinking and discovered a love of Becks Blue (I can get quite aggressive if I discover that he's drunk my stash), so he only drinks at home now a couple of times a week.

HOWEVER, if it is too tricky for you to deal with alcohol in the house, and being drunk under your nose, then I'd suggest asking your partner to not drink at home for a defined period of time. Maybe 100 days.

Setting a time limit makes it less of a scary imposition for them, and you may find that they are a LOT more sympathetic to you when they realise how tricky not drinking can be! Once the 100 days are up they may decide to join you, or - at least - to cut down significantly.

3. Will he still love me?

This was my biggest fear. A month into not drinking I wrote this post: Not the Girl he Married. I was terrified that I'd totally wreck our relationship by turning myself into someone different.

Looking back now I find that all rather ironic. Think about it. If you're still drinking (too much), are you really now the girl you were back then?

After a decade of abusing booze I was two stone heavier than the girl Mr SM married. I wasn't the go getting, energetic, enthusiastic bon viveur of those days. I was depressed, stuck in a rut, and a social liability.

Who was I kidding?

I am now, after fifteen months of not drinking, way more like the girl he married than I was by the end of the Drinking Days. An older, wiser and more wrinkled version perhaps, but still the same girl at heart. The girl that, for a long time, I'd lost.

4. Can we still enjoy the same things?

Yes! Although in the early days you may need to make some changes.

Initially I accepted fewer invitations. I also avoided going out for dinner a deux - it just didn't feel right without drinking. I ate early with the children, rather than sharing long, boozy dinners with the husband.

BUT those things come back. Gradually, and when you're ready. And you find that there are many new things that you enjoy doing together - without booze.

When I did start doing more parties, dinners etc, I found fake booze really helpful - for me and the husband.

He feels much more comfortable drinking a mojito if I'm drinking a virgin one, or having a beer if I'm drinking Becks Blue. It gives the illusion of us both being on the same wavelength, and that makes a big difference.

So, please don't let worrying about the people you love stop you stop drinking. You're doing the best thing for you, for them, and for your relationship.


Love SM x


  1. Hello, this is a biggy for me. My husband is a heavy drinker. I remember about 10 years ago having a heart to heart with a friend and telling them that I would like to stop drinking but I was afraid my husband wouldn't love me.
    Over the past few years I've stopped for short periods of time. But last September I said that's it I'm stopping for good! It hasn't been plain sailing. In the last 9 months I haven't got 100 days together. It is hard. My husband doesn't nag me to drink and he still loves me but he doesn't support me either. There is an undercurrent. Most recently I got to 90 days and told him and he said "what do you want me to say? I'm not happy that you're not drinking." - I didn't make it to 100 days...
    Sorry this sounds negative. On the plus side my husband definitely drinks less than he used to. And I know I have to do it for me not for or because of anyone else
    It makes blogs like this and all you amazing people who comment and support one another very, very special to me. We are not alone! Xxx

  2. Oddly enough, I have turned into a drink-pusher in my sobriety. My husband still drinks, and I end up urging him to have a bourbon with dinner so that he doesn't feel like I am cramping his style. I open bottles of red wine for my daughter and her husband, trying to get everyone relaxed and happy. This is counter productive! I have had to force myself not to urge people around me to drink. I'm not sure where this strange behavior comes from, but even my husband has asked me to stop.

    1. Hi FaSM,
      You asked where this behavior comes from - my view based on only what you wrote is that you are not quite comfortable about not drinking. You don't want to cramp your husband's style. But pouring him a drink seems to be overcompensating (unless he asks for one). I am also concerned about this phrase: "get everyone relaxed and happy". Alcohol does not do that - as they probably know - but I think you're still coming to terms with it. Since everyone has asked you to stop - try your best to do so. By all means if you feel comfortable with others drinking around you when you are not - that's great - but be happy with sober you - and just open and pour for others when asked. Good luck and you'll get there - it just takes time. Eeyore

    2. Hi FaSM! I've never done the drink pushing thing, but I remember Mrs D talking about it a lot in her book. I'm pretty sure it was a phase that she just grew out of! Big hugs xxx

  3. I have learnt that no matter what my husband does, I have to walk my own path. I don't mention his drinking although I have asked him to keep his alcohol voice to himself. He often asks me if he should or shouldn't open a bottle of wine, should he go to the shop to buy alcohol? I kindly asked him to stop and explained I have a hard enough time quietening my own voice that his could send me over the edge. Sometimes I pick up his glass of red to smell it, don't know why.

    1. I still find smell a trigger. Oddly, even though I gave up smoking 14 years ago and have NO desire to smoke, the smell of it still sometimes triggers good memories! X

  4. I used to go round inhaling others' cigarette smoke after I stopped smoking! Eugh - what was I doing?! Fortunately the habit passed and I imagine your predilection for inhaling red wine will too lol. X

  5. Great post SM! Today is Day 100 for me - Hurrah! Thank you so much for your great blog and to all the commentators on here who have really helped. When others in the real world are at best, indifferent to our struggle and at worst, seriously against it, this online community does so much to fill the gap. Thank you all. Onwards for the next 100!

    1. HUGE congrats on 100 days WoS! That's awesome! Huge cyber hugs coming your way xxx

  6. I have a husband who drinks in a very moderate way. Telling him the truth about my drinking was one of my best decisions to maintain sobriety. Nothing but big support from him. I haven't asked him to make any changes and we're both doing well and happy!

  7. I used to question whether...and now, with a/f clarity, I know that - spouse and I both qualified as pretty well-functionng alcoholics. There wasn't an a/f day, let alone period, in the household. And, if anything, alcohol kept the household running more smoothly - w a drink to take the edge off, I could let slide this or that annoying thing.

    But I knew, despite doing my best to ignore, that our drinking was 'over the line.'
    I'm alone now (widowed), but have given this a lot of thought in the past five months and I'm almost positive I never could have quit while he was still here. I don't think he would have wanted to. And I dont think I would have had the backbone to do it on my own, w him still 'enjoying.' So for anyone who can quit w drinking still going on in the household...extra hurrahs!! It's a well-done feat!

  8. Great post SM. My husband still drinks, albeit a lot less, and never wine, so that made everything a lot easier for me in the early days. When we have people over, I do take a different stance, I don't serve alcohol for anyone else. I am quite happy if people want to bring their own wine, but i don't buy it for anyone. I suppose that this is a reaction to the fact that our house used to have a "open door" policy for anyone who wanted for drop round for dinner and drink all night. Our household bills have dropped considerably, and we our social circle has diminished, now that the free booze fountain has been turned off - but the people who actually want to spend time with us, couldn't care less. It's one of the hardest things, to decide the "alcohol policy" in your house, and it's different for everyone. x

  9. My husband also drinks..he used to drink like me, but 3 years he turned into a norm (I am so jealous!) What he doesn't like about me not drinking is that I always made him the designated driver....and now it's he complains that that makes him drink more because he doesn't have to drive!!! hahaha!!! xo Great post!

  10. Bluntly, YOU get to walk this planet once. Doesn't matter what anyone else does or thinks. Its YOUR life, YOUR body. If the booze kills you that's it. Doesn't matter what any other human being does or says because the booze is going down your throat. I guess I'm lucky because we have both stopped for 5 and a bit months now but I would have stopped on my own, no matter what. As individuals we have to take responsibility for our own actions as while I have come under some pressure to drink from idiot colleagues at work, nobody has actually held me down and forced it down my throat. The depth of my problem is probably known only to me (and you lucky people). A supportive partner is obviously a help but its your choice ultimately.


    1. I often think that! When we're out people are busy encouraging us to have "just the one" But it's not their liver! Not their brains. Not their lives. They won't be dying of alcoholic liver disease (well one or two might). My Dad did but I don't plan on it being my future. X

  11. It was a stroke of fortune that my husband was foisted into the world of sobriety. And I joined in immediately.
    I knew I needed to. But when we were both clearly drinking too much together I could never find enough self confidence or motivation to quit on my own.
    Together sobriety has changed our lives 100% for the better. We like each other and have fun together and travel and go to concerts.
    We have experienced death, floods and fire evacuation.
    Sobriety has reviewed our life together.

    As an aside, I like having no booze in the house. As a person who suffers from depression and has a history of self destructive tendencies, I feel safer this way.

    There's nothing wrong with requesting things be set up to help you. We do not always have to be the one accommodating!

    Great post!


  12. My husband drinks but he has cut down a LOT! We used to get through 2 bottles of wine between us. But now he rarely drinks and usually just a beer or two. Somehow his off switch never became faulty like mine did! It doesn't bother me that he has a couple of drinks at home some nights or if he has a lot when we go out with friends. Funny how things change! A x

  13. It's eerie how often I come to this blog and discover you've written about my challenge of the day!

    I'm on day 171 and DH still drinks and still drinks more than is optimal for his health, IMO. He waxes and wanes and right now it's very wax-time around here. One of the (unstated) reasons I quit was so that he would know without a doubt that all those empties are his.

    Mostly, I say nothing. Tonight as I was trying to pull the last few minutes of cooking dinner together, he WALKED BETWEEN ME AND THE STOVE AND THEN STOOD THERE TALKING WHILE GRABBING A WINE GLASS AND FILLING IT. And I pretty much wanted to shriek at full volume, grab his stupid glass and throw it out the window, along with his dinner. And I adore the guy.

    It isn't easy some days, that's for sure.

    1. LOL! We've all been there, Anon. It's often those you love the most who can drive you up the wall! Xxx

  14. This is really helpful, my wife and I have been trying to find compromises recently but half the things we did with each other involved drinking. After getting clean, I feel like my wife was distant and bored around me, hopefully this helps.