Tuesday, 8 May 2018

How to cope with being alcohol-free when your partner is a drinker

One of the topics that rears its head quite frequently in the soberverse is how you cope with being alcohol-free when your partner is still a drinker and how you sustain your relationship when one of you has made a significant life choice that the other hasn't.  It was certainly one of my major concerns when I decided I was ready to quit indefinitely.  One of the things that drew my husband David and I together was our love of partying, getting drunk, being the last to leave a party and hanging out on boats (with drinks in our hands). Our entire 13 year relationship up until 2018 had pretty much centred around events and gatherings laced with booze.  Since I've stopped drinking, I have been very conscious of the fact that David didn't make this choice (in fact he wasn't even consulted - sorry David) and it would be unreasonable to expect him to adopt the same approach as me. To be honest, his drinking rarely bothers me and it is only on the odd occasion when he stumbles home hammered in the early hours on a school night that I throw my toys out of the pram.

Sober partying
A couple of weekends ago David was on a stag do and when he got back he told me how my non-drinking had been one of the topics of conversation over the dinner table.  The boys had been curious as to how he was managing with having a sober wife as they felt that it could put a strain on our marriage. I presume because this wasn't what David had signed up to, as he's unwittingly traded in the party girl he married with someone who is ecstatic to be in bed with a book and a hot chocolate by 9.30pm.  I suppose there was also a concern that with me no longer partying like before, I'd put the handbrake on his partying.

I decided to do a bit of research into whether marriages were placed under strain when one half quits drinking... big, big mistake!  Several research papers including this one have found that couples with different drinking patterns are more likely to divorce than couples with similar drinking patterns. Nooooo!  So I followed this up by asking David about how he's finding life married to a non-drinker.

I'm really glad I did ask him as it did raise a couple of things that we hadn't discussed and I hadn't really given much thought to.  David explained how it doesn't bother him that I don't drink and he likes the fact that I am a much happier, less angry person.  However, he does feel that I no longer want to go out with him and do the things that he likes doing, like going to pubs and late night bars. He explained how he would love it if we could still go out together like we used to and I realise that he is right and we should.  We're in a partnership and there does need to be a bit of compromise on both sides to make sure this new dynamic works.

At over four months alcohol-free, I am experiencing an internal shift.  Whereas the early days were about staying calm and retreating slightly to stop myself slipping down the boozing path again, I now feel such a strong internal resolve that I am starting to entertain the idea of hanging out in bars and clubs more.  In fact I was at a hen party a couple of weeks ago where I was in a bar very happily sipping mocktails with the girls until late.  So, I know that there is nothing to stop me doing the same with David.

A happy marriage needs to be an equal partnership where both parties support each other in whatever way they can.  Just as David needs to respect and support my alcohol-free lifestyle, I need to respect that he is still going to want to go out drinking and partying with our mates like before and I shouldn't try to alter that - and I wouldn't.  The key to ensuring this is a success for both of us is to keep communicating, keep being sensitive to each other's needs and remaining flexible as we navigate this new way of life together.
Sober rugby

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