I have stopped drinking alcohol but my partner hasn't
The Sober Journey

You have quit alcohol but your partner still drinks, now what?

My drinking habit had generally been to break open a bottle (or more) of red wine in the evening after my Son had gone to bed, I would normally watch TV and drink with my Wife. Generally, she would have one or maybe two glasses and I would go through the whole bottle and often start on the next one.

It actually made me feel better when she was drinking with me because I was less aware of how much of the bottle/s I have had. In my heart I always knew I was having most of it and that my drinking was out of control, but I carried on for years and years by pushing the thoughts to the back of my mind.

When I finally found the power to stop drinking I didn’t expect my Wife to give up as well, she didn’t have a problem so why should she?

She thoughtfully chose to switch her ‘go to’ drink from red wine to prosecco as we agreed that having red wine around me wasn’t a good idea. The last thing I wanted her to think was that I was forcing my new lifestyle on her or judging her for drinking. She has been so supportive of my new alcohol-free life and I need her around, she is a massive part of my support team.

Over the first month or two my Wife could see all the amazing benefits I was experiencing from not drinking, while she had never been a big drinker she decided to cut back anyway and just drink at the weekends (she drinks Nosecco 0% during the week now). When my Wife does drink alcohol she is one of the lucky ones who can have just a glass or two and stop, she can simply take it or leave it.

I have no problem whatsoever with her drinking around me, it doesn’t make me want to drink and the fact she drinks in moderation means I know she doesn’t have a problem.

My experience of having a partner who still drinks is that I need to accept it, I shouldn’t expect her to become sober as it is her freedom of choice to do what she wants. So long as it is not having a negative impact on us both there is no problem.

I can see how it could be difficult in some situations though. For example, if my Wife was drinking large amounts of my trigger drink (red wine) each night I think I would have found the whole sober-journey more of a struggle and I imagine it would have lead to some uncomfortable conversations as I would have felt that I needed to say something about her cutting back or quitting.

I believe a partner should be nothing but supportive of someone who has quit alcohol. While they shouldn’t generally be forced to change their own behaviour it will make them stop and look at how much they are drinking and someone who cares about you would hopefully take steps to ensure they don’t do anything they might get you to take a drink.

Of course, all of this is a ‘perfect world’ scenario. I have seen many posts from members of the Be Sober group in situations where they have quit alcohol and their partner is drinking  excess amounts regularly and has no intention of changing anything. I have even read stories where the partner is angry because they have lost a drinking buddy.

This is a very difficult situation, sobriety has to come first and if you are around someone toxic it is not going to help.

When I was drinking I tried to imagine how I would have reacted if my Wife had quit alcohol and then encouraged me to stop, I think it would have lead to a few arguments but I hope that after she had shone a light on my problem drinking I would have seen sense and realised it was the right thing to do for my own good. But I am pretty sure I would have fought back until I decided for myself that I needed to quit.

Every situation is different, but personally if I was living with someone who was addicted to alcohol and I had quit I would be doing everything I could to get them to join me on the sober journey. If they weren’t interested and intended to continue getting drunk and pressuring me to drink I think the relationship would stand a high chance of becoming sour and I would have to start questioning with this person was still the right partner for me.

Because no two situations are the same it is impossible to give a definitive answer. If you find yourself in a position where you have a partner who is drinking too much or pressuring you to drink I think the best thing to do is share your story with the Be Sober group and seek advice from the wonderful support network, having other people on the sober-journey who you can talk with in complete confidence gives you so much strength and many people will have had similar experiences themselves and be in a position to give some sound advice.

I wish there was a simple answer to this issue, my best advice is to talk to others, seek support and don’t do anything until you have carefully thought everything through.

I hope this helps, stay strong!

Simon

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1 Comment

  1. Heather says:

    Tricky one. I ended my relationship with my boyfriend not long after i stopped drinking. He was a moderate and a binge drinker i was an every day drinker so basically it didn’t help either of us to drink really. When ever i stopped he was supportive but didn’t stop himself. We didn’t live together either so i imagine that would be tough. With my ex husband we drank most days and i constantly worried i was drinking too much he’d just say na your fine you don’t drink in the morning so you’re not an alcoholic… anyway that’s all in the past now. As far as the next relationship is concerned we shall just have to wait and see!

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