The Next Round: What happens after you change your drinking?

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Happy Families - Different drinking habits

When your partner still drinks alcohol

People often ask for advice in dealing with one of the most difficult situations – when you are trying to cut down or quit, but your housemate or partner still drinks alcohol.

I feel I have little advice to offer. I contribute a big part of the success in changing my behaviour down to the fact that my partner quit at the same time as me. And it is easier to stick because my new partner hardly drinks at all.

Advice when a partner still drinks alcohol

So I am rotten help here. And so is Google. But in this blog we try and explore some of the issues, and I hope that you can add your thoughts and tips too.

  1. Sober Senorita, a blogger, gave up drinking alcohol. But her partner still drinks alcohol sometimes. They have made it work by communication, and some compromises, such as keeping no alcohol at their home, and her partner mainly drinking at special occasions. You can read her story here. Discussing your drinking and your goals with your partner, and agreeing how they can best support you is a good first step. You never know unless you start the conversation.
  2. On the other hand, a partner who drinks can help remind you how strong you really are. Blogger Zen Sobriety’s wife still drinks. And he actually likes it that way: “her having a glass of wine doesn’t bother me in the least. In fact, I prefer she not go out of her way to avoid having a drink. I don’t want the type of sobriety where I can’t have alcohol around in order to stay sober.”
  3. And Lucy Rocca from our friends Soberistas says her partner drinks when he goes out with friends but not really at home. A nice compromise.
  4. Celebrating the new, deeper and more meaningful connections you have with all your friends as well as your partner is an important boost. On Living without Alcohol, Mrs D wrote about a birthday lunch with friends. Her partner and the guests drank alcohol, she had fizzy water. She concludes: “the champagne and beer didn’t make this lunch special.” It was “the raised glasses and smiling faces that were pleased to see each other.”
  5. Relationships do change, and that can be for the better. You begin to see your friendships through a less fuzzy lense, and nurturing positive friendships and relationships is part of looking after yourself. It is a great reward.
  6. Although we won’t lie, incompatible drinking habits can cause a strain in a relationship, if you don’t invest time in communicating and perhaps a bit of compromise.

Drinking under control

And then it occurred to me, after reading through all of this, that I do have a bit of advice after all. My previous partner, who quit with me, fell off the wagon twice, in spectacular style. I saw how she felt afterwards. The upset, and the shame, and the worry that she would never get her drinking under control. Seeing that and feeling her pain scared me. And it stiffened my own resolve.

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