Trying to figure this out

alcohol
relationship

#1

Hello - new to the group! I’ve been struggling with my boyfriend’s alcohol use for the past couple of years. We have been together for 6 years, and for the first 3-4 I was enjoying being with someone who seemed to be so fun and was also dealing with the death of my mother. I now feel guilty because I was drinking with him - never at his level, but I was always up to go out. A couple of years ago I realized how much money I was spending and how little I was enjoying it. We also started fighting any time he drank. I slowly started noticing patterns in his drinking and the fact that once he starts he can’t or won’t stop until he falls asleep or passes out. He also started taking lexipro a couple of years ago for his anxiety. He stopped drinking for a couple of weeks at that time and had an immediate good effect from the medication. Slowly he started drinking again and now I feel like everything about his drinking is worse - he has lower tolerance, it takes less to push him into a binge, and he’s more volatile and has bigger mood swings when he drinks.
He thinks he doesn’t have a problem because he can stop drinking for several days or even a month at a time, but then he will binge drink for an entire weekend - even keeping a bottle in his car so he can “stop for a drink” on the way home from work. He refuses to discuss it with me - even when I approach it from the standpoint of being worried about his health.
I love him but my life has become so stressful and unpleasant. I find joy being out with our dog, or when he doesn’t drink, but the minute he opens a beer or a bottle my stomach starts to hurt. I feel like for my own health I need to leave, but part of me wants to be able to get thru to him and get him to see what I see. I’m happy to find this community for support and hopefully can learn some skills to navigate this.


#2

Welcome, @JenG. I can relate to a lot of your story. My husband and I have been married for ten years and we drank together, heavily, for many of them. When I started changing my relationship with alcohol in 2016-2017, I was definitely more aware of how my husband drank- which was not always differently from how I drank, but it made the red flags seem a little brighter.

This resonates because I felt like that. While I still don’t identify as an alcoholic or addict, I definitely kept drinking in a way that was problematic for me, for longer than I would have because I could stop any time I wanted. The stories we tell ourselves about what is bad enough to warrant stopping a behavior can speak so much more loudly than asking if something is GOOD enough to keep doing. As far as talking to him about it, I learned so much from this site and the course on positive communication on how and when to bring it up. There’s a wealth of information here on how to do that, but I think one of the most powerful aspects for me was determining what I wanted to say, keeping it brief and solution focused, and asking when to have the conversations in advance. There’s a lot of experimenting that happens, but it was very effective.

I will also say that taking care of yourself has got to be one of the most important things you can do. It is so stressful dealing with other’s addictions and self-care sounds like such a buzzword, but when I was able to take some of the focus off worrying about my husband and trying to control the conversations and put that towards taking care of myself (even if that just meant being in a room alone for the evening, instead of trying to engage with him), there was a huge shift in my anxiety and overall well-being.

I’m glad you’re here, sending hugs!