Alcohol is a common feature in abusive relationships, so if your partner is an alcoholic you might have to deal with erratic mood swings and unpredictable behaviour, arguments and aggression, recklessness (DUIs), the risks to your children and so on.
So how do you confront a partner about their drinking? (when it is often a very touchy subject) Usually, people learn to avoid the issue, simply changing the subject when it comes up. And so the situation continues for years, unless you decide to address it.
But quite often each person may be so afraid of loneliness, or have such low self-esteem that they believe themselves unlovable, that no-one else would have them, that they couldn’t survive alone. This co-dependency makes people tolerate more than they should have to, in order to stay together.
The abuse of alcohol might affect your relationships in many ways. But those same close relationships are often the ones that can perpetuate alcoholism. A dysfunctional marriage can be so much stress for anyone involved – if your first choice for coping with that is alcohol, then you can see how some people justify their drinking by blaming it on their husband/wife.
If the extra drinking that arises from relationship problems itself makes those problems worse, then a very messy loop can develop.
Alcohol can serve a number of purposes in a relationship –
- a temporary boost in self-esteem,
- soothing anger or escaping from conflict (which often leads to more arguments or even domestic violence),
- an emotional escape from unhappiness,
- exerting control through defiance of the partner’s requests not to drink.
Alternatively, if you’ve decided you want to quit drinking, but your partner still drinks heavily, then you might have real difficulty resisting temptation – there you are trying to have a sober day, when your husband is cracking open a bottle of wine for the evening!
This sometimes happens as a form of sabotage too – if a couple both have a problem with alcohol, your partner might not want you to get sober, might not want you to get your confidence back.
This is all sounding rather gloomy, surely there’s a light at the end of the tunnel? Of course, your close relationships can be your biggest source of support and encouragement. Even if you might think you’ve damaged some relationships beyond repair, the people who care about you will still be there if they can see you really want to change.