Question: I want to take a break from drinking but I’m worried it will change my relationship with my partner. Any advice?
Answer: One of my main concerns when I stopped drinking was how it would affect my relationship.
I saw drinking as an important part of our lives and I was worried that things would change if I took a break.
My partner also expressed his fear that we wouldn’t have fun anymore and his fear reflected my own.
After all, I equated good times with drinking.
Our social life, travelling together, even spending a night on the couch watching mindless television involved drinking.
But there was also a downside to that.
While we don’t often argue, our biggest fights were when we had been drinking.
We have had some great holidays but there have been many times when we’ve drunk too much and the night has been a blur.
There also have been mornings when a fun holiday activity – a boat trip or tour – has been less than ideal due to a shocking hangover.
So how did I approach it?
When I decided to take a break, I told my partner that I was concerned about my drinking and wanted to see what it would be like to not drink for awhile.
I told him all the things that worried me about my drinking – that I was drinking more and it was becoming more frequent.
I was worried about blackouts, was concerned about the impact on my health and that I was waking up in the early hours of the morning worrying and unable to get back to sleep.
He tried to reassure me that I ‘didn’t drink that much’ but I knew that it wasn’t a matter of how much I did drink. After all, what’s the magic line you cross between okay and not okay?
I knew that I wasn’t feeling great – physically or emotionally – and that taking a break from drinking would help.
Being really open and vulnerable with him helped him to understand.
All I wanted from him was his support and that’s what he gave me.
Can we still have fun?
I reassured him that I would still continue to do the things we did together – I would just be pouring something different (i.e. non-alcoholic) into my glass.
And more than a year after putting aside the booze, we have continued to do everything we used to do. Holidays, socialising, shows. Tick, tick, tick.
Just recently we had friends staying with us and we had a great night of catching up, laughing and drinking (me on alcohol-free gin and tonics).
I was one of the last ones to call it a night at 1.30am, making sure that everyone had a big glass of water on their bedside table for the next morning when they woke up hungover and dehydrated!
So, yes, you can still have fun without drinking.
Of course, everyone’s relationship is different and your approach has to suit what works for you both.
Your other half may be worried that you want to change him or her, or that you’ll judge them for their drinking.
My advice is that unless your partner wants to join you on this, don’t try to convince them to make the change.
Do what you need to do for your own health and wellbeing.
You never know, you might even inspire them to take a break or cut back.