My husband, K, occasionally abuses alcohol. It seems his “off” switch is broken from time to time. Often, he’s perfectly okay with a couple of beers or 2 glasses of wine with supper, but at other times he has a hard time knowing when enough is enough. He knows there’s a problem but since it’s not chronic he has yet to really face it and deal with it.
In the meantime, I enjoy a glass of wine with certain meals and have never had a problem with alcohol. I love my husband to pieces–he’s honestly the most kind, generous, and honorable man I know (and no, he never, ever gets mean when he’s buzzed; he gets sleepy).
So here’s my dilemma: Until someone is ready to get help/abstain, what’s a spouse to do? Alcohol is like chocolate to me: I enjoy it a lot, but always, always in moderation and sometimes not at all. I’m not K’s mommy or conscience, so I won’t abstain to try to force him into anything. I don’t want to manipulate the situation in any way; he knows I’d never completely abstain for no reason and I refuse to be the alcohol police.
On the other hand, I love him completely and therefore if it’s somehow better or kinder or whatever for me to swear off it, I’ll do so right now. I’m just stumped as to my role and responsibility in all of this since he’s not yet a “recovering alcoholic.” I certainly understand that once he’s abstaining, I should (and will) as well. But what about now? When he pours a glass of wine with supper, do I refrain? And if that’s the best thing to do, how do I explain my reason for doing so? (He knows that I believe he’s an alcoholic and I have no problem with being honest; he also knows I absolutely adore him.)
Thank you for any help you can give me.
Has your husband seen anyone about his drinking? Has a professional (counselor/therapist/doctor) diagnosed him as an alcoholic? I ask these questions as the term alcoholic refers to a distinct set of diagnostic criteria. Your husband may not well be an alcoholic but a problem drinker (there is a difference). If your husband is willing, get him to complete a self-diagnostic test, they can be found at this page http:/www.the-alcoholism-guide.org/alcoholism-test.html”, and then let him decide if he is an alcoholic.
As for drinking in front of him, this is your call. I honestly don’t think it will make any difference to him if you abstain or not (especially if he is alcohol dependent). It would be different if you were the one opening the bottle of wine and offering it to him but as you state it is he who instigates the drinking. The important thing is to show him that you are drinking moderately and ‘normally’ and enjoying it without getting intoxicated.
All the best.
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. I have since settled in North Carolina. I have experience working with various stages of addiction, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, stages of life concerns and relationship concerns.
I tend to use a person-centered approach which simply means that I meet you where you are and work collaboratively to help you identify and work towards accomplishing goals. I will often pull from CBT when appropriate. I do encourage use of mindfulness and meditation and practice these skills in my own life. I believe in treating everyone with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
I recognize that reaching out for help is hard and commend you for taking the first step. We have professionals available who would be happy to help you move closer to reaching your goals related to your drinking concerns. You may reach these professionals by calling 877-322-2694.