How To Gain The Support Of A Partner Who Still Drinks
When it came to eventually winning my battle with alcohol, one of the most important pieces was gaining the support of my husband, who still drinks. Today I want to give some helpful advice on how you can get your significant other to support your change – even if he still drinks.
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1. Be Crystal Clear How Serious You Are
A big benefit of your guy’s support is that when cravings set in, you have someone to help keep you on track. He can also help eliminate your exposure to temptation in the first place.
But you can’t solely rely on that. At least not at first. In the beginning, you have to show him you mean business. Especially when he still drinks.
I know early sobriety can be really hard, but you need to be crystal clear about your intentions. In How to Win Your Battle with Alcohol, I said you have to change your surroundings. That’s a great example of what’s required.
For instance, in 2016 hubs and I went to an annual liquor-filled party. I intended not to drink, but temptation eventually set in and I caved.
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As I’d been more-or-less successful in moderation at the time, he thought “just a few drinks at a party” was no big deal. We had a blast that night.
But what wasn’t so fun is how I continued my personal party at home, the next day and the next.
By Monday morning I was depositing the contents of my stomach– along with my pride and self-confidence– into the toilet.
Fast forward to now. During my first 100 days of sobriety, I declined that very same party invitation because I was so strong in my resolve. I refused to put myself in tempting situations of old.
Apparently, that change in my behavior was exactly what my guy needed to witness.
Since I take that initiative for myself he respects my choice much more. Now, he asks first if any event might be a problem for me. He backs me up and it’s a joint effort. If I’m ever tempted, he’ll protect me.
Once your loving partner sees how important it is to you, he’ll want you to succeed. But if you give him the same old patterns you’ve always exhibited, you’ll receive the same response.
Show him you mean business!
Changing your surroundings is only one way to show you’re serious. Here are a couple other ideas:
-Start speaking enthusiastically about cutting back or stopping.
-Download audible books on the topic (this one is great to start) and play them aloud while you luxuriate in the bath. Make it a thing, like a new hobby or interest.
-Add something new and very sober to your routine. Find a sober meetup in your community and attend an event, for example.
-Make it a small part of a bigger health goal, like weight loss. Tracking your calories and hitting the gym more often will show them that you’re serious about the bigger goal. Reducing alcohol calories would be a natural byproduct of that.
2. Introduce New Fun Activities
If drinking is a big part of your relationship, slowing down can feel like a death blow to your partner. Especially if he still drinks and enjoys the status quo. Finding enjoyable activities to replace drinking can help.
One of the more challenging aspects for us was that drinking used to be our preferred activity.
At one point it was so bad that when I started a new job, coworkers asked: “what do you like to do for fun”? I didn’t really have an answer. “Getting wasted with bae and watching music videos on YouTube” isn’t exactly an acceptable response.
As you can imagine, my early attempts to quit were futile without anything to replace the alcohol. During my final attempt to quit I force-suggested new things.
We tried novel restaurants, went to musicals and plays, and hung out on the beach… these things made our relationship stronger and filled some of that extra time.
These days our life together is much fuller. Hubby tells me all the time how he enjoys our quality time spent together.
While those drinking days were fun and I’m honestly glad we had some of the good parts of those times when we did, they came with a healthy dose of negativity too.
Pointless arguments, forgotten promises, lost memories of the night before… When your drinking is out of control, so much is at stake.
If I could go back in time, I’d have begun adding interesting hobbies to our relationship much sooner.
Do this now, and your man will come around much faster.
3. Show Him How HIS Life Will Improve With YOUR Sobriety
Your sobriety needs to be a “we” thing, not a “you” thing.
As soon as he sees how your sobriety will make his life better, he will come around!
For example, my son is in daycare while I work full-time from home. Our arrangement is that my husband drops him off in the morning before work and I pick him up in the evening.
During my drinking binges, I would be too hammered to drive for days, leaving my husband to do both.
I’d always make up for it later in the week, but that’s beside the point.
When I don’t drink, I can drive and fulfill my end of our deal. This makes my husband’s week much more predictable and is one reason he vouches for my sobriety.
Consider your own relationship. In what ways would your drinking less benefit your man?
Make this clear and you’ll be on the road to gaining their support in no time.
4. Be Understanding & Willing To Compromise
Finally, just because you want to stop drinking doesn’t mean he has to. Though he should support your decision, you need to understand that not everybody who drinks is a problem drinker.
And really it isn’t fair to force him to stop.
What you can do, however, is compromise! Being open-minded and understanding of his wants and needs is a great trait. I’ll tell you what works for me, then offer some suggestions for you.
Our current arrangement is no hard liquor or wine is allowed in the house, as those are tempting. But I find beer absolutely disgusting, so he can have as much beer as he likes in the fridge.
Furthermore, when we are out together we’ve agreed that he check in with me to see how I feel about him drinking. He even checked in with me on our recent vacation, where I maintained my sobriety! So he checks in when we’re out together, but without me, he’s totally free to drink what he wants as long as he doesn’t come home sloppy drunk.
UPDATE 11/26/2018: At nearly a year sober I’m happy to report that there is currently NO ban on alcohol, period. I’m so solid and strong in my sobriety that hubby drinks what he wants, when he wants, where he wants and I’m totally fine 100% of the time! We host alcohol-fueled parties at our home and everything, and it’s all good, yay! But our forever-agreement is if I ever feel threatened, tempted or weak, all I have to do is say the word, and we change things up.
I’ve come a long way, he’s come a long way, we’ve come a long way, but my sobriety will always come first.
Here are some suggestions for you:
-Your dude is free to get sloshed (if he must), but only twice a month and he must tell you in advance so you can prepare. In return, you get something else you really want – like a spa trip (bonus points if he finances it for you) ;)!
-No drinking at all in the house, but if you go out to dinner or to events, he can drink without asking.
-Drinking during good times or for fun is fine, but if there is tension in your relationship or in life in general, he agrees to avoid drinking as a coping mechanism.
These can vary of course, but the point is to first identify your biggest triggers. Then enlist the help of your partner to eliminate them without demanding he quit drinking with you.
Do You Think You Can Get Your Partner On Board?
It can be so very hard to alter your relationship to alcohol if your boyfriend or husband continues his exact same behavior. But ultimately you have to decide for yourself how serious you are about making the change.
Quitting drinking or slowing down when everything around you stays the same is no joke. But over time if you take the initiative and make positive changes in your life, those around you who love and care for you can do nothing but give you props and support your great decisions.