Yet another relationship question…drinking

Hmm…I hesitate to submit this post but what the hell. Sometimes you can be too close to a situation to see it for what it is. Sometimes family and friends may tell you only what you want to hear. It’s nice to be able to post in a forum where everyone will provide their honest two cents.

So…my problem…

When my SO drinks I find him incredibly annoying. Not every time, but most times. It’s not that he does anything outlandish. His voice just gets loud, he wants to debate about things in which I have no interest, he slurs his speech, and says things he normally wouldn’t say while sober. His overall character is just different.

An easy solution to the problem would be to simply leave when I start finding him annoying. Currently, this is what I do. Unless I’m drinking alongside him, I begin to feel tense the moment I see his personality begin to change. And…I honestly don’t feel like drinking with him every Friday and Saturday just so I won’t be tense around him.

The problem is that he wants to buy a house together…this is where I hesitate. The thought of living with him and knowing that two days a week I’ll either have to join him, leave home, or spend it in some other part of the house leaves me feeling drained. I’ve voiced my concern and he tells me this is the way he unwinds after a long week and that I should just love him for who he is.

I’d love to go out with him on a Friday or Saturday night with other people but he said he doesn’t want to drink and drive…admirable but then if we go out that means I’ll be the one sober and he will most likely drink even more knowing he won’t have to drive home. He says he’s happy staying at home and just watching TV or playing hearts on the computer.

I feel sad just thinking about this. What are your thoughts?

Well, the good news is that he’s right. You should “love him for who he is”.

The bad news is that him drunk is certainly part of who he is. And it sounds like you certainly don’t love that part of him.

I’m not a believer in the idea that your life partner has to be perfect. I am a realist about this sort of thing. But I do think that the things you love have to outweigh the things you think are unacceptable.

I certainly would not buy a house together if you are this uncomfortable with his behavior every week or so.

If he’s already driving you batshit, you don’t want to live with him. Trust me.

You’ve talked to him about how you feel, and he’s said in no uncertain terms that he has no intention of changing the behavior that bothers you, or even of trying to find a compromise. That leaves you with two options, really: Deal with it, or get out. Personally, I favor the second option. By effectively saying, “This is how it is, so just get over it already,” he’s shown that he’s not willing to think about how his actions affect you, and that’s bad shit in a serious relationship (or a business deal like buying a house together.)

I know it sounds really petty to break up with someone over them being annoying when they drink, but he’s working your nerves about a third of the time you’re together. If you had a friend who was unhappy in her relationship that much of the time, what would you tell her to do?

I think this is just doomed. What bothers me most is this bit:

Anyone who tells you how or why you SHOULD love them is not taking your best interests seriously. This bothers you, and therefore it is a problem, whether he thinks it is or not. If he must drink to unwind, that may be a problem as well.

For me, before I married, drinking was a dealbreaker. I wanted a man who didn’t drink at all, period, ever. And so I married one. I’m telling you this so you will take my opinion with a grain of salt, as I have very strong opinions regarding alcohol (for myself and those I associate with, I mean).

And…I honestly don’t feel like drinking with him every Friday and Saturday just so I won’t be tense around him.

Unless I am misunderstanding, you have a guy who gets drunk every weekend. This is not acceptable, mature behavior. This is something that people should generally leave behind when they graduate college. Living together doesn’t change someone: if anything, it exacerbates the habits they already have.

IANAT, but it sounds to me as if your guy is a problem drinker, as you said that he said this is his way of unwinding. Perhaps he’s not an alcoholic, but he could very well be heading there. He will not change unless he wants to, and no guy is worth putting your life on hold while he decides who he loves more: booze or you. You will waste your life while you try to fix his problems. Habitual drunks just aren’t worth it, hon.

Ignoring your concerns is another enormous red flag, too. It’s not a major thing to ask him to not get smashed every weekend. You’re not asking him to quit drinking, just to tone it down a bit. It’s a small request and it would be no skin off his teeth to pare down the boozing and actually go out on weekends and NOT get drunk. If he refuses to consider your opinion on small things, forget about the big things.

I would run like hell if I were you. Run like the wind, baby! You deserve better!

Pervert, you’re exactly right. I do not love that part of him. In jest I’ve even told him, “I love Mr. Whetherman #1, but I don’t even like Mr. Whetherman #2.” But sadly, this does not feel like a joke inside.

He told me that I’m making it seem like he did something horrible for me to even consider not moving in with him just because of this. No, he did nothing horrible. I cannot help that I find him annoying during this time…I just do. I’m just being honest and thought he should know how I feel when he drinks. The other five days of the week I find him funny and interesting.

Hmm…is this true? I think of it more as something he does, rather than who he is. Perhaps I should start thinking that him drunk on Friday and Saturday is part of who he is and go from there. Although, he denies that he is actually drunk. To me…drinking and falling asleep so hard that he cannot easily be woken is drunk.

You are right…I too believe that your life partner does not have to be perfect. If that were the case I’d be out hiking, sailing, and running with him every weekend. Although it would be nice if he loved nature as much as I do, I can find ways of doing those things on my own and still being happy with my overall relationship with him. But…I just can’t get past those two days of the week that I avoid or secretly want to avoid him. What were to happen if we decided to take the relationship to another level? What if we were to have kids? I see this creating difficulties even further down the line.

Also…let’s say he decided to curtail his drinking because this is something that bothers me. Since he already sees this as something I’m trying to take away, I can easily see him becoming resentful over time. I’m not at all trying to control him but do think in a healthy relationship it’s important to be honest with your feelings about things such as this. I never told him, “I demand you to stop drinking.” I said, “I have issues with the way I feel when you drink every Friday and Saturday. Unless we come up with a solution I don’t think it’s a good idea to move in together.” Is this controlling?

I don’t think it’s controlling; I think it’s realistic and appropriately honest about what you need in a relationship.

I get an ominous feeling about the future of your relationship. If you have a problem with his drinking but he doesn’t even think he’s getting drunk, you’re almost certainly going to have conflicts about this in the future. Whatever you do, don’t move in with him if you’re feeling this way already.

Wow…I had really no idea I would get this type of response. I honestly thought I was going to be nailed for wanting things to be different. I was under the thinking that I was the one with the possible controlling issues for even wanting him to reduce his drinking and for even voicing those concerns.

I’m afraid the characteristics he exhibits while drunk are part of his personality. He may not exhibit them at other times, but they certainly do not enter his head from the bottle and leave entirely when he sobers up.

Also, I am somewhat concerend about his characterizing these as “unwinding”. One or 2 drinks is unwinding. Becoming drunk to the point that “His overall character is just different” seems to me that he drinks as an excuse to exhibit this character. That is, part of him is more comfortable in this character than in his sober character. (this is a little too psycho analytical for me too :)) My point being, that he may not want to give this up at all, ever. I know he has said as much to you.

Once again, good news and bad news. The bad news is that yes, this is controlling.

The good news is that you have every right to exert some control over him. If you got married, would he consider monogamy an attempt to “control” him on your part?

If you ask him to stop drinking and he does, he has to accept that he is makeing such a change to please you.

SO relationships are supposed to be about this. Each partner becoming the ideal mate for the other. Ideally, you find a partner who encourages you to become what you consider a better person.

Just MHO

Here’s the thing, WhetherMan - he’s a grown-up and has a right to drink and yes, even to get drunk if he so chooses. However, YOU have a right not to have to put up with something that makes you that uncomfortable. And that’s a decision that should be made before you make any life-altering arrangements.

It’s not about controlling HIM. It is about having control over an important thing in YOUR life. You are entitled to do that.

I think you’re wrong on two counts.

His disregard for your feelings makes him sound more like an insignificant other than a SO and you don’t have a problem, he does.

I recall in my Psych Nursing days admitting an alcoholic in the middle of the night. He was accompanied by his wife and had been arrested while out with her. The police, because they could in those days, brought him to the hospital. When hubby had been sedated and taken to the ward I was left comforting his blubbering wife. She explained that this was her third marriage and the third time she had married a drunk. She was cursing herself because while they were going out she had no idea that he was any more than a social drinker. Once they were living together he dropped the facade.

If you two don’t live together my first question would be - what does he do the other 5 days a week at the moment?

And when you move in together what do you think he’ll do then, need to unwind every night.

Ask him to spend the next few Fridays and Saturdays doing something that doesn’t involve drinking. You’ll learn something one way or the other.

As part of a personal rule of mine, I’ve always felt it wrong to go into a relationship wanting to change someone else. I’ve always felt that you either accept a person for who they are or move on. The problem arises when you initially accept things about someone in a relationship and then later find those same things unacceptable because of changes that occur over time.

For some background, I’ve been with this particular person for thirteen years and have grown to love so many things about him. Initially his drinking wasn’t a huge issue since we met shortly after my first year in college while he was just finishing his last. As time went on, I seriously, and obviously mistakenly, thought he would grow out of this over time. I always thought he was a bit annoying when drinking but now I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even want to be around him when he’s drinking. When I tell him, he makes me feel like I’m exaggerating and that I have a control issue. I feel torn because I love him so much and want to spend my weekend nights with him but know each time that I will feel tense the minute his words begin to slur. I even feel guilty talking about him like this because inside I really do care so much about him. I just wish he were able to find something else that we could enjoy together on weekend nights that didn’t involve drinking.

Originally posted by Crazycatlady:

Crazycatlady, that certainly puts things in perspective. Compromise…that’s really what I want. He tells me that we will work it out, but when we actually sit down to discuss the issue it ends in an argument. He honestly thinks I’m just trying to control him and thinks I’m exaggerating the situation when I’m just being honest with my feelings. It has nothing to do with control. He says I’m giving him an ultimatum by saying, “Either you stop drinking or I’m not moving in with you.” I never told him to STOP altogether. I told him why not drink occasionally instead of every single weekend. I think it’s better to tell him I have reservations about this rather than denying my own feelings and keeping them bottled up. He asked, “Should I just go out then every Friday and Saturday?” No, this is not the point. The point it that I want to spend time with him…his sober self. Can there even be a solution to this problem?

Originally posted by don’t ask:

Okay…more background…

I lived with him for nine of those thirteen years. At the beginning of January I moved out due to various reasons…the most important of those being to experience life as an independent person. This past year I’ve grown in ways that make me proud of the person I’ve become. This past year has given me a newly found strength that makes me realize I don’t have to just accept things that may have been acceptable in the past. If he wonders why, now, all of a sudden I’m having this problem with his drinking…it’s because I didn’t want to create waves in the past. I would feel tense inside and try to maintain a certain level of patience. I did attempt to discuss it with him at several points while living with him but when I saw it created too much hostility I backed off. I began thinking that this was just something I would have to accept about him. I thought I was the one who had to get over my feelings tension. Now I feel differently.

I’m not sure this is a good thing but he did say that he would do everything in his power to not annoy me whenever he drinks. The problem with this is that although you have a certain level of control over yourself when you are drinking you do not have enough control to prevent the slurring or the loud voice or…


I seem to recall him making this same statement in the past and still I became annoyed. He thinks I get annoyed not because of his drinking but because of my preconceived notion that I will become annoyed every time he drinks. I feel him trying to negate my feelings somehow with these types of comments. Is he trying to convince me that my feelings are not really my feelings? Hmm…

Can anyone think of a compromise I could propose?

How about this:

Have you ever video taped his behavior when he was drunk?

Or this:

Propose that he stop drinking for a period of time. I would recomend 6 months. You try to see how he behaves during this time. At the end you should be able to judge whether he can really give up the annoying personality.

I’m afraid that these ideas are kind of hail mary’s though. I don’t think they have any chance of resolving your situation in favor of the relationship.

Pervert, that’s funny because that’s exactly what I proposed…that I video tape him. He said he would be open to this but I have my doubts that he would actually agree when it came down to it because of a past experience. I once attempted to audio tape his voice. As soon as I turned the tape played on…he stopped talking and wouldn’t say a word.

I like the idea of not drinking for a length of time just to see if we could find an alternative that would suit both of us.

A while back I had wanted to go to counseling and he told me at the time that he had no interest in going. Now he tells me that had I set something up he would have gone. Do you think I should try counseling now?

It’s kind of sad to hear that you have been together for 13 years, in a lot of ways it makes things worse. You two have been together longer than many marriages last. Unfortunately, like in many marriages, one partner has been blessed/cursed with too much patience, too much forbearance and too little selfishness. It’s a pretty standard complaint of the partner who is behaving badly - “What have I done? Why are you suddenly making such a big deal about this?”. They don’t know how long it took to get to suddenly.

Years of tolerating his behaviour has provided him with plenty of reinforcement and you are in the position of the doting mother who decides it’s time that her teenager began acting his age and helping around the place.

The reason he thinks you have a preconcieved notion to get annoyed is to absolve his own actions. “It’s not because I’m drunk and behaving badly, she just decided to get annoyed.” If he can’t establish better attitudes than this I think you’d be better off dealing with a teenager.

Get the to couple’s counciling.

This is the same situation as when one person likes to look at porn and the other finds it offensive/immoral/annoying. The answer isn’t for person A to stop looking at porn, nor for person B just to stop getting bothered about it. I honestly don’t know what the answer is, but I’m sure couple’s councilers hear it every single day and have some good advice.

Well, if he is willing to go to counselling you could cetainly look into it. I’m not an expert on such things. and I have a distrust for psychology in general, but I have heard good things from some people. You need to look into more than one counsellor and find one you are comfortable with.

Meanwhile, don ask don’t dismiss the preconcieved idea so quickly. I agree with you that it sounds like he is trying to dismiss her reactions. But I had a similar experience (totally different behavior). I found that I had fallen into a trap of reacting much more strongly to behavior my SO exhibited than was warranted. Mostly because it had become a sore spot.

Please don’t take this anecdote to imply that you are doing that, WhetherMan. I obviously cannot make that kind of diagnosis. But it is something you can explore.

On another note, I would not get his permision to tape him. Just go t o a gathering or party and arrange a recorder to be there. You don’t want to tape his behavior while he knows he’s being taped. Have him view it later (when he is sober). It might make sure you are both refering to the same behavior. I am almost certain that he does not have the same memory of his behavior that you do. He still might not consider his actions a problem. But in that case at least you can be sure that you are both talking fairly about the same thing.

Originally posted by Snoopyfan:

Snoopyfan, this is a very good point. I wasn’t even sure I was asking too much. I just knew how I felt and was proceeding in the direction of those feelings. Thank you for your words.

Originally posted by LifeOnWry:

Again, another point to think about.

Originally posted by InternetLegend:

This is the part that concerns me too. And to attempt a serious conversation about this when he’s actually drinking…forget it. Once he becomes annoying, there’s absolutely nothing I can say that changes anything for that evening.

Orginally posted by LifeOnWry:

Your words reinforce my feelings that it’s okay to want certain things out of life and leave others that make me feel uncomfortable. No, I’m not trying to control him. I love him so much and seriously want this issue resolved. I want to resolve it with him. But if he doesn’t even see it as a problem, refuses to even acknowledge my concerns, and says “Accept it or leave”…I guess I know what to do. I’ve been with him for thirteen years. Yes, that’s longer than many marriages. I sincerely hope we can work this out.

Thank you, everyone, so much for all of your words and advice. You’ve given me so much to think about. I was definitely feeling like I was the bad guy for even suggesting such a thing and now I see that I’m not out of bounds in my request. To feel alone in this situation and then to reach out for help…what a great board this is. Thank you, everyone.

WhetherMan, some of your comments about your view of relationships sounds awfully familiar. I’m just going to plop in my little story, which really is totally different than yours - but I feel like I just have to say it.

You mention that you feel it’s wrong to go into a relationship wanting to change a person. See, I entered my last relationship feeling much the same way. I had the view that I needed to be in a relationship where we were both quite independent, and able to do the things we wanted to do.

I found such a person, and we were together for three years. Funny enough, what eventually ended the relationship was just this characteristic - independence. I never felt there had been an “us”. Relationships are about give and take, but that give and take is done freely by both parties. Why? Because they love each other. Because it’s worth it. Because the few things they sacrifice are FAR outweighed by the love, companionship, respect, etc. that their partner gives them.

Unfortunately my independent SO had a hard time with that give and take. I decided to step off, let him be who he was. I figured, maybe in time it would grow on him, and he and I would grow to become “us”. After 3 years, I realized it wasn’t happening, and likely never would. He didn’t feel it was necessary, and I sure wasn’t pushing him.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, I guess the bottom line is that it’s good to be a non-judgemental mate, and it’s good to give space and freedom. And it’s good to not demand change. But it’s also good to find a relationship with someone who generally makes you happy. It’s okay to put your foot down sometimes and be assertive. I have trouble with this, and likely will for years to come. But I realized that if I don’t do this, I may end up in a situation that just doesn’t make me happy.

I know you don’t want to be a nag. And you don’t have to be. But think about whether you’ll be happy with things status quo in another 10 years. Will you feel like you’ve wasted your time dealing with a guy who’s a jackass drunk? Or will you dismiss it as his thing he does on his own? Either decision is fine, as long as you’re freely making it.

I know you’ve got a lot of stuff to think through, and we’re probably all complicating things even more. But at the end of it, I hope you come out ahead of the game. I think you’re in the hardest part of things - trying to figure out what to do. For me, once that decision is made, life becomes easier. Gone is the knot in the stomach, the nausea, the feeling of unease and uncertainty. I hope for you those feelings aren’t strong, or if they are, they aren’t going to stick around for long.