Yet another relationship question…drinking

An alarm went off in my head when you said he avoids going out with friends on the weekends because then he can’t drink. Does he often turn down offers or events because he would rather stay home and drink? I guess I would ask him if he can have fun and unwind at all without alcohol.

What happens if you go out with friends on the weekends? Does he stay home and drink by himself?

I don’t think you are unreasonable in your request at all. You have put up with it long enough that it’s not just a matter of you getting used to it, you have discovered it is getting worse for you. If he is completely unwilling to compromise then unfortunately you have to ask yourself if you are willing to live this way for the rest of your life. If you do decide to stay with him when he has made this ultimatum, then I would say you cannot complain about it any more. He has given you the choice: accept it or leave. If you stay then you have to accept it.

Maybe you can try one last time to find a compromise, I think counseling would be a good idea. Tell him that you want to find a a way to make both of you happy. If he refuses or counseling doesn’t change anything, then again you have to ask yourself if you can live this way or not. The solution does not, however, lie in dragging this out any more or putting the decision off. That only makes both of you unhappy. Maybe you could give him your own ultimatum - that you two must find a way to make both of you happy. If there is no way to do that (if he is unwilling to change his behavior at all, and you cannot be happy the way things are), then maybe it is time to call it quits.

Good luck - it’s never easy to end a relationship that has lasted so long.

Frankly, my gut tells me he’s only going to get worse.

Either you’ll put up with it and grow resentful over time, or he’ll stop and grow resentful over time. Either way, it won’t be good.

I don’t think you should have to put up with behavior if you don’t want to. If it bothers you that much, I certainly wouldn’t buy a house with him.

Social situations should be about having fun, not waiting and watching for him to turn into “Mr. Hyde.”

Just my thoughts.

scout1222, your story is almost exactly like one of my previous relationships. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who went through it.

I was in a long-term relationship with someone who preferred being alone than with other people. He just didn’t put much effort into any of his relationships, whether it was me or his family or friends. I thought I would be the one person in his life who was different from all the rest. I waited patiently for him to realize what a good thing he had, but it was never going to happen. And so I spent way too much time feeling unsatisfied and lonely. That didn’t excuse his behavior in any way, but the lesson from that relationship was that it is not a good idea to waste time on someone who is not going to change.

So WhetherMan, I would echo what other posters have said. I know you love him. But if the love, effort, and compromise that you’re putting in is not being returned, you may want to reconsider whether this person is really right for you.

Your experience sounds familiar to me too. I don’t know if my story is relevant but I’ll share it anyway …

I have never been a big drinker, but when I met my SO we were both moving in circles (that became the same circle) where lots of substances of many sorts were consumed, so it was kind of a free-for-all. We fell in love and married and our circles changed quite quickly to a place where people really don’t take these substances nor drink to excess. But he still did and it drove me nuts because he was very irritating. And, at times, he was an asshole, bordering on the abusive (emotionally, not physically).

These latter situations really upset me, as you can imagine. Of course I was already married to him, and I didn’t have a single moment where I thought about leaving him, but I had to confront him with it. I told him I simply couldn’t stand to be around him when he was drunk, because he was either being an intolerable asshole, or I was constantly fretting about him becoming one. He thought I was overreacting etc, but eventually things changed quite dramatically. Again, it was also due to our circumstances (being really poor, not being around people who drink a lot, etc) but even when given the chance he doesn’t drink all that much any more. Which pleases me immensely, because he really is a lovely fellow when sober.

So my advice? hm. I agree with the others who say that the big problem is that he doesn’t respect your feelings. If he’s doing something that makes you miserable, and he doesn’t care, that’s the problem (and part of what made my husband’s drinking a big part of what was so upsetting to me). Can you compromise? Say, Friday nights he stays home and drinks and you go do something fun that you want to do, and Saturday he doesn’t drink?

It would seem that if he would rather drink alone than spend time with you, that is a major problem that AA may be best suited to deal with (“Does your drinking interfere with your social life/family life?”)

Originally posted by Pervert,

I have thought about this myself. At times I have caught myself becoming a tad tense even when he opens that first beer. I rationally know this is not fair to do because this time could be different so I make a very conscious effort to conjure more patience as a result. However, each time, his drinking does lead to a similar place and is not much different from the last. The items that vary are the following: sometimes he debates, sometimes he wants to read poetry with me, sometimes he watches TV, sometimes he wants to play the guitar and sing together, sometimes he doesn’t say a thing and just goes on the computer. Things that don’t vary: he speaks loudly, he slurs his words, he is always right, he looks at me with half closed eyes, he says things he normally doesn’t say when sober, he falls asleep hard and snores. It’s not that he’s abusive, mean, or any of that. He’s just different and loud and just annoying to me. He keeps telling me it’s not like he’s abusive when he’s drinking. Yes, that’s right…he’s not. But it doesn’t change the fact that I feel tense around him anyway.

The trick is to get a buzz going before he does so I become immune to his changed actions. The problem: I don’t want to drink just so I won’t become annoyed.

Pervert, what did you do to resolve your issue of your preconceived idea?

Scout1222, thanks for your story.

This is how I would like for it to be. We have some unresolved issues from the past that I began to speak of and then realized that, perhaps, we should just enlist the help of a counselor. He sees things as one way; I see them as another. I don’t want to argue with him, I just want to start now from scratch being this type of couple if he is willing to do the same.

All I can offer is my own experience. For a number of years, I drank at least a couple of beers just about every day. I would easily have 6 each day Fri-Sat. Don’t think I participated in any non-drinking social activities. And I was always the drunkest person at every gathering. I’d find the heaviest drinker, and use them as my pace.

I didn’t see why it should bother my wife so long as I has handling my responsibilities - i.e., my job, household chores, etc.

It took a long time for me to realize that the one responsibility I was not handling was probably the most important - being there for my lifemate. It also bothered me that my drinking was largely habit, rather than a conscious choice. And I had to acknowledge that after a couple of decades the adverse health benefits had to start adding up.

Don’t get me wrong. I still very much enjoy alcohol, and am by no means a teetotaler. But I am very glad to have reduced the frequency and amount of my drinking.

The fact that he drinks each and every weekend, the fact that he has adjusted social committments due to drinking, and the fact that he won’t change despite the fact that someone he ostensibly loves is troubled by his drinking are all not good signs.

Also realize there are 2 distinct issues - whether he is WILLING to change, and whether he is CAPABLE of changing. Unless he is capable of both, the pain you experience concerning this is not going to go away.

MOST people out there do not drink as much as your SO. MOST people do not drink to the point of drunkeness each and every weekend day. His drinking habits are a significant issue, and they aren’t going to simply go away. You will largely be unable to control his behavior - he will have to do that himself.

If he were single and just falling asleep by himself, it would be fine. His choice. But I was counsel you to seriously hesitate continuing in a relationship - let alone further entangling yourself - with someone whose attitude and approach to drinking is so different from yours, and who shows so little respect for something that is so important to you.

Good luck.

Originally posted by, Velma:

Velma, this was not what I meant to imply. The reason he doesn’t like to go out is not because he can’t drink but because it’s easier to stay home and drink. First, it ends up being expensive by the time you pay for dinner, drinks, etc. Second, when he’s drinking with friends he doesn’t like to drink and drive and says it’s just easier to stay at home where he doesn’t have to go far. And, thirdly, he finds it relaxing not to have to do a big “to do” when gathering everyone, etc. Although I’ve seen him have fun without drinking during the week, I know he associates weekends with beer and his version of relaxing. I wish we could come up with something that we both enjoy together on weekends that doesn’t always involve alcohol.

To answer your other question of, “What happens if you go out on the weekends? Does he stay home and drink by himself?” Yes, he does. I work a night shift and I’m either working on Friday or Saturday night now every weekend. If he doesn’t have anyone coming over or if he’s not hanging out with neighbors, he drinks alone.

I really don’t want it implied that he may have a drinking problem. I know he thinks he doesn’t drink that much. And, yes, compared to some of our neighbors we know he doesn’t drink nearly as much as they do. It’s his choice how much he drinks when he’s alone but when he’s with me I’d prefer that he’d reduce the amount only because he becomes annoying to me when he’s had a certain amount.

I don’t think I have resolved it. But realizing that part of it is my doing helped me a lot. I developed a mantra that I use sometimes “don’t nag mrs.”. I simply say it over and over. It sounds silly even to me, but simply repeating it allows me to take control of my urge to “bitch” at her. Its something I struggle with constantly. Once I do that I can more objectively evaluate whatever it is that set me off.

Please, Please, Please don’t take this part of my situation to indicate that you should give him a pass on his behavior. I truly don’t mean it that way. Maybe its sexist of me, but I read much of your posts to indicate that you’ve been giving him a pass much more than you’ve been over reacting.

Whether you want to call his behavior a drinking problem or not is irrelevant IMO. It certainly sounds as tho he has adapted his life in many ways to accomodate his drinking preferences. That’s his choice. Doesn’t have to be yours.

Take it from me, a heavy drinker wishing to rationalize can always find someone who drinks more, or is dropping the ball in one category or another.

There are a few things that bother me about some of the responses here. First is the “Dump the Drunk” responses. I don’t know how much your SO drinks, or if he drinks during the week. If he’s getting blotto every weekend, I agree he probably has a problem, and if he’s serious about continuing a relationship he damn well better get to counseling with you. However, you’ve been condoning this behavior for years apparently so an overnight change is not likely.
Second, it sounds like a lot of folks expect that he has to change his behavior to suit you, or it’s bye bye. Guess what, that’s controlling behavior. If you’re truly interested in a long term relationship, you have to take responsibility for your part in this. You have to be willing to compromise too. And saying that now his drinking is a deal breaker after 13 years is a bit like pulling the rug out from beneath his feet.
Again, couples couseling is good. My wife and I went through it some years ago, and frankly we wouldn’t be together if we hadn’t gone to it. YMMV.

This is all I was trying to point out, too. I don’t know him and can’t say whether he has a drinking problem or not, and it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that his drinking bothers you.

If the situation were reversed, how would you respond? If he came to you one day and said, this one thing you do, it really bothers me and I don’t like to be around you (it could be anything, not just drinking.) If you would be willing to change and find a compromise, it might be worth pointing this out to him. Not in an accusatory way, like “I would do it for you!”, but it might point out that you seem to have different expectations of what it means to be in a relationship.

krisolov, I don’t think anyone is saying he should completely change his behavior overnight. What is troubling is that he seem unwilling to even consider a compromise. He is the one who said ‘accept it or leave.’ It’s hard to see WhetherMan as the controlling one. He is the one who seems to be forcing an ‘all or nothing’ approach, and that automatically limits their options.

It is not controlling to not want your SO to get drunk every weekend any more than it is controlling to want your SO to stop hitting you, or stop emptying out your bank account, or stop verbally attacking you, etc.

This guy sounds like an alcoholic.
There are different types of alcoholic drinking patterns, and getting drunk every weekend can be one of them.
You can’t change an alcoholic…don’t bother trying.
If his drinking is bothering you know, just wait. These things get worse…not better. Unless he stops.
Might be better to cut your losses now.

Everything mod29 said.

  • PW

Have you thought about going checking out an Al-anon meeting? I’m not too familiar with the program, but it is a support group for families of people with drinking problems. I don’t mean to say that your SO has a drinking problem, but there may be a spouse or child of a drunk who has dealt with similar problems.

Actually that isn’t controlloing behaviour. Physical and psychological controlling behaviour is behaviour that seeks to make your partner behave in ways you approve of without being open about it. You can’t seriously believe that a partner has no right to say “do that again and we’re finished.” That’s precisely the attitude that allows women to tolerate abusive relationships for so long. I can think of plenty of things someone could do that would make me say “stop it or else” - criminal behaviour, treating children poorly and lots of the real controlling behaviours - vocal threats, lying, emotional withholding and self abuse.

Expressing an open dislike for someone’s behaviour and explaining the consequences is part of all social interactions - parenting, schooling, working being in a team.

well don’t ask, I guess we disagree. I think this is a far cry from an abusive relationship and painting it in that light is a bit disingenuous. I do think an individual has the right to point out behavior that bothers them, and a considerate SO would take that into account and try to modify their behavior to some degree that is acceptable to both. If one party is not willing to change, that’s when things like this turn into “do it or else” many times, which is an attempt to FORCE the other party into changing against their will. In my book, that’s controlling.
After re-reading the thread, I wrongly assumed it was Whether that made the ultimatum. My apologies for misreading and responding accordingly. I don’t think moving in together is the right thing to do imho, and I think a compromise could and should be reached by 2 people who care for each other.

I completely, respectfully disagree. Telling an important person in your life that you find their behavior unacceptable, and then stating what your actions will be if the behavior doesn’t stop is quite reasonable. You say that this man’s behavior isn’t abusive; well, obviously it makes WhetherMan quite distressed, so I guess it could fall under the heading of emotional abuse. But that’s not the point. The point is that even if it’s no kind of abuse, WhetherMan certainly has the right to not accept unacceptable behavior. If she told him “if you keep drinking every weekend, I’m going to start regularly doing something designed to drive you crazy”, that would be controlling. But saying “I can’t accept this behavior, so if it can’t or won’t change, then I’m regretfully going to have to bail out of the relationship”, that’s not what I’d call controlling.

WhetherMan, this situation certainly seems troublesome to me. IANA alcoholic; but my father was, and sober in AA for 27 years. I did a lot of time in Alateen, Al-Anon and ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics). If he gets drunk every time he drinks, he’s most likely got a drinking problem. But the real question is not “does he have a drinking problem”, but whether his drinking makes problems for you. It clearly does. If you are not willing to leave the relationship now, then at least you should get counselling, either professional or through Al-Anon (call the number for AA in your phone directory. . .they’ll be able to give you information about Al-Anon meetings in your area. You can’t change your SO, only yourself. That may mean leving the relationship. I know that sucks, and I’m truly sad for you {{{WhetherMan}}}.

Best of luck!

WhetherMan, as an adult child of an alcoholic and past member of Al-Anon, all i can tell you is what i would do under the circumstances you’ve laid out.


i’d run as far and as fast as my legs would take me. yes, regardless of whatever arguments might be raised (“I only drink beer!” “I never miss work!” “I only drink on weekends”), the drinking patterns your SO has, AND THE ATTITUDES THAT GO WITH THEM (doesn’t want to be bothered with going out and socializing; because it would interfere with his ability to drink as much as he wants if he had to drive afterward, etc.) all point to a problem situation. and UNLESS AND UNTIL HE CHOOSES TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT HIS DRINKING, i view the chances as extremely good that things will get a whole lot worse before they ever get any better.

now, that’s not to say that you aren’t allowed to say anything at all about the situation. heck no! you have every right to express how you feel about the situation. if it makes you unhappy or uncomfortable, you’d be passive-aggressive if you just clammed up and expected him to figure it out on his own.

but to a certain extent, you are unavoidably enabling his behavior. you’re not happy, but you convince yourself you must tolerate what you really think is intolerable. a major warning, applicable to life in general: the more you decline to set boundaries for what is and is not acceptable in your life, or the more you let other people infringe on those boundaries, the more they will keep doing so. kind of like Germany invading during WWII-- nobody made any moves to really stop them at the beginning, so they just kept on doing it until all hell really broke out.

and i doubt you really want to let yourself be pushed back into a corner to the point where you feel you must really FIGHT just to maintain your sense of self. drawing the line now as to what you can tolerate and what you won’t should give you something to measure against, to guage just how things are likely to go in the future.

in the end, you’re the one who knows what you can tolerate, and what your breaking point is.

my only direct advice to you? just remember–life’s too short to wait to be happy.

This caught my attention: there’s no mention of you. Dinsdale is right. Sorry, but you definitely should not buy a house with him.