Some of you won’t want to read this, but it might be time to face some hard truths, especially if you have a nagging feeling that alcohol might be hurting your relationship.
Alcohol abuse can affect your relationship in a number of ways:
1. Acknowledge the impact of alcohol on your relationship.
Alcohol may have affected your relationship in a number of ways. One, if you used to party a lot together earlier in your relationship and one of you uses much less, there can be a loss in the bonding experience of getting drunk together. Two, alcohol often robs you of real presence and intimacy with each other as well as time lost from hangovers, bad moods and passing out. Three, you may be noticing a financial and health impact. And four, you or your partner may be making bad decisions like inappropriate flirting, driving while intoxicating or spending money frivolously. Take a moment to get real about what alcohol is costing your health, your relationship and your finances.
2. Get education and support from AA and Al-Anon.
If over time you start to realize your partner has a significant problem with alcohol use, it’s helpful to get your own counseling and/or attend AA based groups like Al-Anon to see how you may play a role in your partner’s addictive behaviors and also how to cope with and confront your partner’s behaviors. Check out the following resources:
3. Identify any small changes that might make a big difference.
In some cases, finding a compromise toward moderation is most helpful. For example, you may not mind so much that s/he drinks with friends as long as s/he spends time with you in a present, loving way just as frequently. Ask your partner to be willing to eliminate the kinds of alcohol that make him/her more irritable, moody or causes the worst hangovers. In other words, focus on any compromises that will help increase intimacy and security and decrease judgement and resentment.
4. Find a shared, healthy or fun activity to do regularly together that doesn’t have anything to do with drinking.
Some people drink more when they're bored or have gotten into the habit that fun is paired with drinking. Really work hard at finding a shared interest together that doesn't involve drinking. Take up golf or join a bowling team. Tackle all the cool hiking spots. Volunteer; join a book club or racing club. Be committed to getting out of your ruts.
5. Know your boundaries.
If you absolutely know that you cannot live with someone who drinks excessively, you have to own that. This means that you must be willing to say: “It’s the alcohol or me.” You can say, “I will help you with it and we can go to counseling and/or treatment together but I will absolutely not put up with this.” Yes, it’s an ultimatum. And, no, your partner will not like it; s/he may even resist or be unable or unwilling to meet your demands. You may have to end the relationship. If you don’t set this limit, you are choosing a life of resentment, a loss of your full relationship potential and making you and your partner feel worse about him or herself over time.
If you are the one who's drinking too much, you also have to know your boundaries. What are you willing to change? It's not fair to your partner to keep making empty promises if at the end of the day you're not ready or willing to make significant changes in your drinking habits.