Having worked with 1000’s of couples now either 1 to 1 or in my online empowered love program, conflicts over drinking are common. Nothing is more difficult or heart-breaking than being married to someone who changes personality and is horrible when they are drunk.
Katy met Steve (her now husband 12 years ago) at work. She fell in love with his outgoing personality, he was always the life and soul of the party, especially when he had had a few drinks. She found his jokes and humour really attractive, they had a world-wind romance and got married after a year of dating. Over the years things started to change. His drinking became more frequent and he became more aggressive when drunk. Now Katy dreads her husband drinking. Whenever they get an invitation to a dinner party, birthday or some other celebration, she starts to think of excuses for them not to go or finds reasons to plead with him to drive and not drink.
“Nicola he is just plain mean to me, he becomes short-tempered aggressive and makes hurtful remarks about the way I look or what I have said.” He makes me feel like crap. The next day I tell him what happened and the response is always the same.
He say’s “Really? I don’t remember, I’m sorry you know I don’t mean it, I was just drunk.”
Over the years this has become worse Nicola, I’m just not sure how much more of this I can take…He doesn’t drink every day but when he does he won’t stop for anything. Never mind that we have family things planned or work the next day. I can’t tell you how many weekends, birthdays and holidays have been ruined now, must be hundreds!” Katy (name changed)
This is not a rare case, alcohol related relationship problems come up in 1 in 4 couples I work with. It is not only limited to men. I have supported many husbands who find their wife too much to handle when drunk. This was the case for Ahmad and his wife.
“Nicola our main problem is her drinking, he she becomes another person… she repeats herself, slurs her words and doesn’t want to ever go home or stop. She lies about it all the time too, I know straight away when she has been drinking and it is becoming more and more frequent. Any excuse to drink, she even used our son’s homework as a reason to drink because she found it stressful. I’m not sure how to get through to her, she sees drinking as fun and to relax, but it is no fun for us to have another person in the house. I love her and just wish she would stop.!”
Alcohol related relationship problems are very common and when things become strained in the relationship, they tend to intensify. As resentment and frustrations can slip out more easily when under the influence, as inhibitions loosen and a false increased confidence happens.
So what can you do about it?
Well, I guess like most men and women that share alcohol is an issue in their relationship – you have probably already tried talking about it and nothing has changed?
Often talking does not change anything, in fact, it can make things seem worse. This is because when they repeatedly act in exactly the same way after you have explained begged or pleaded with them to change, their behaviour can hurt much deeper. As you have shown your pain and they carry on regardless.
Having gone through a rough time in Dubai when I first arrived 11 years ago, struggling with feeling lonely and stressed both within and outside of my relationship, I turned to drink for comfort.
For many years I would find myself drinking alone sat on my balcony, night after night. In fact, for over 2 years there wasn’t 1 day I didn’t drink. I was functioning in my job, in fact, I was having major success, but every night I would escape the pressure of life for a few hours by drinking alcohol…. Of course, it was not a real solution to anything, all I was doing was pressing pause on the problems. Everything was still there to greet me in the morning, only it was much harder to face with a weak mind, foggy head and low energy from drinking. I remember day in day out saying to myself almost every single morning… “I don’t want to drink tonight or I’m not going to drink tonight.” but by the time I got home, I would have come up with a reason why. It took over my rational thinking. Now I am not saying this is any way similar to your situation, but I do know how to break free of the cycle. Breaking free from the negative cycle of alcohol dependency to cope with life, was one of the most liberating life changing experiences I have ever gone through. It did take effort, plenty of research, planning and study but I have not only managed to completely shift this area of my life, I have helped 100’s of others too. I know what works and what doesn’t. I cannot explain how amazing it is to be free of the grips of alcohol and be in control of it rather than let it control you.
So here are some do’s and don’ts when dealing with a partner who is aggressive or abusive when drunk :
Don’t tell them they are an alcoholic
Don’t try to reason with them when they are drunk
Don’t force them to go to AA or tell them they should never drink again
Don’t make ultimatums
Don’t take any their drunk talk to heart
Don’t accept blame
Don’t tell them they are in denial
Do encourage activities without drinking
Do support them if they want to get help
Do allow them to address it in their own way
Do ask them what you can change in the way you relate and the relationship
Do research solutions and get support for yourself
Do walk away from challenging times
Do always protect yourself and any children from harm
Do only discuss your relationship issues when sober
It is fairly obvious to all of us that individuals react differently to alcohol. What can be difficult to understand is how someone can change from a happy drunk to an irritable or spiteful drunk in the same night or as the years go by. How we act can be affected by not only the amount we drink, our emotions, weight, health, type of drink, food consumed and stress levels.
The hardest thing many men and women I support find is staying attracted to their partner, when they drink and behave in hurtful ways. Many also go off drinking alcohol themselves leaving gaps in social companionship.
You may be tempted to say:
“You have a problem”
“You’re in denial”
Whilst these seem the most obvious and natural solution to fix the alcohol related relationship problems, it’s best not to go down this route.
For any lasting change it needs to come from them. It is important remember that denial is often at play. Which is why frank discussions often get husbands and wives nowhere. Denial is closely linked with anger and the compulsion to defend. Your partner may find excuses and triggers for the behavior, rather than look within themselves and take responsibility. You may find you or others around them are blamed.
It’s worth repeating again as it can affect the chances of positive change and recovery happening:
Never tell someone that they are in denial, have a problem or are an alcoholic.
No one wants to being labeled as being out of control, especially by their romantic partner. They may find it easier to admit it to a coach or therapist they trust if there is something they want to change, but to you it may be very hard. This is usually because the stakes are much higher, you will be able to see if they fail at their attempts to change their behaviour. They may also fear you watching and monitoring them.
Before I leave this important topic, I want to address another common question that I always get asked around this subject and that is:
“Do I believe the truth comes out when people are drunk?”
No, I do not agree that what is said while drinking is truth.
Having worked with countless couples through drinking related relationship problems now, many husbands and wives deeply regret what they said and desperately wish they could undo the words they said and things they did. So I don’t believe that things said by someone drunk should be taken at face value.
If it is your drinking or both your drinking that is causing arguments, consider having a break from it while you heal old wounds and become closer.
The key thing in all of this, is to not suffer in silence, find someone you trust and can talk to. Whether a coach, therapist, friend, or family member. There are also worldwide support groups like Alon and Alcoholics Anonymous you can contact for online or community support.
What are your comments about this important issue?
From my heart to yours, Nicola
P.S I have 2 free resources for you to support you become closer in your relationship. Copy the URL’s to access extra support today
7 Secrets To Fixing Your Marriage – Free Report
Marriage Secret Masterclass