A Spouse Who Drinks

Living with a spouse who drinks can be really challenging when you’re trying to quit alcohol. Really challenging. I’m lucky that my husband doesn’t imbibe every day, but come Thursday night? He has a neat whiskey while watching TV on the couch. Friday? It’s game on. Four or five drinks minimum, which only carries on through the weekend.

Because I used to be right there with him, I don’t feel like I have any ground to judge his behavior. I sit silently and sip my Kombucha, pretend as if it’s a regular ol’ night in the Leigh household. I act like I’m NOT noticing the heavy clear tumbler with two inches of amber liquid balanced in his hand.

All the quit lit books I’ve read tell me that if you attempt to educate other drinkers on the perils of alcohol, this only works against them. Against you. Until a person is ready to see their drinking as a problem, it does nothing for them to have someone else point a finger their direction. In fact, it can make matters worse. Does Rob have a problem? I don’t know…. I guess in my mind, I’ve sort of decided everyone is caught in the “pitcher plant” to a certain degree; everyone is capable of sliding to the bottom. The question is, how fast?

Even with understanding that it’s a no-no, I’ve tried to drop comments here and there. I’ve talked about “me,” even though I’ve done my best to subtly imply Rob. He isn’t immune to this. I know he gets it to a certain degree. I also know that he’s done some cutting back since I made known to him my alcohol problem a little over a year ago. He even successfully completed “Dry January.” (Which kind of annoyed me since I slipped and drank one of these days—how did he do this so easily?)

He used to join me in drinking during the workweek—on a Tuesday or Wednesday night if the mood struck—now he watches his intake more closely. He reserves his units for Thursday through Sunday.

Thursday through Sunday.

And this, my friends, is hard.

What’s also hard is that I’m not really attracted to my husband when he drinks. Sure, at the start of the night, he’s fine. He’s in a good mood (because he knows he can tip back the bottle). The weekend lies ahead like an open book, blank pages ready to fill in with whatever family activities we have going on. Rob’s first drink or two on a Friday—priming at home–go down like water. He’s instantly upbeat. Happy. We head to dinner with the kids, eat someplace fun, and Rob orders another drink. He’s…. okay through the meal, and sometimes he’s even okay for the next half hour back at the house. But soon, those drinks negatively impact his brain. His mood. He becomes either: (1) tired and melancholy, (2) tense and quick to irritate, or (3) teasing and self-absorbed.

My husband, the man I love with all my heart, the smart, sincere, even-tempered man, almost disappears before my eyes. The mornings after? Gone completely. Replaced with an exhausted, irritable stranger, who only snaps out of it late afternoon when he can pour his first “acceptable” drink of the day. And our night starts over again.

It’s this—the many, many years ahead of knowing that Rob’s routine is most likely not going to change– that I’m discovering… depresses me. Takes the wind right out of my “sober” sails. I MAY cut alcohol out of my life, but my husband may never. He made the comment after Dry January, “Well, I won’t be doing that again,” as he poured himself a whiskey and diet in our kitchen. I think he was looking for a laugh from me. I didn’t even chuckle.

Every weekend feels like a fight for me. A fight to ignore the tempting call of “Happy Hour” on a late Friday afternoon, a fight of NOT ordering a drink while out at a restaurant on Saturday night, a fight to ignore the wine bottle my husband pours from on Sunday evenings while he cooks. I wish, how I wish, Rob would just put that bottle away for a while. Give me this 100 days (now 86!) to see what my life could like without booze. Could see what my marriage could look like. What OUR marriage could look like.

But truth be told, I know that I’m going to have to wage this battle on my own. Stick to my own guns. Put my chin to my chest and barrel on through. I’m doing the work. I’m reading my quit lit, I’m involved in the sober social media world, I even have an online accountability buddy. If Rob won’t join me on this journey, then that’s okay. I’m strong enough to do this on my own. I have to be.

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