Many couples enjoy going out together and drinking, whatever that might mean for you. Some couples like to blackout and not remember it. Others prefer a single glass of wine over dinner, and then to go home afterward. Some couples drink at home and watch movies, or maybe it’s only one person in the relationship who drinks, and the other prefers to remain sober. Most of these things are normal, and the routines typically come naturally depending on the type of people you are. So how do you determine when drinking becomes a problem in your relationship?
Whether it’s just one person or both of you who are taking things too far, it is important to identify the red flags before it gets out of hand. There are several problems that have been proven to commonly co-occur with alcoholism including: violence, conflict, infidelity, jealousy, economic insecurity, and divorce. I’d like to discuss a few of these issues, along with many that I’ve seen affecting the people close to me and what I’ve experienced in my own relationships.
Lack of Trust
- Alcohol is supposedly a “truth-serum”, but as many who have used it before will understand, it can lead to a devastating lack of trust; especially in intimate relationships. If only one partner drinks, and begins to feel insecure about their tendencies, this will often lead to them lying to their significant other about it to avoid judgment or embarrassment. However, even if this partner is open about their drinking, alcohol often impairs judgment and increases one’s tendency to tell lies, because it’s easier when the consequences seem so far away. Alcoholics are often more likely to, not only lie, but steal and exhibit multiple personalities. Whether it is stealing to support their habits or because they can, it is not uncommon that this person will come to regret their decisions when sober and not feel the same way. Alcohol brings out another side to a personality that the sober person doesn’t always agree with. This is when alcohol in a relationship becomes a problem: when you can’t trust someone drunk, you probably shouldn’t associate with them when they’re drinking; even if you like them sober.
- Not only is drinking an expensive hobby, but it often keeps you from making money the next day. If the habit becomes too intense, it can keep a person from making any money at all, and instead tumbling into a deep abyss of anticipating the next drink. If alcohol is getting in the way of a person supporting themselves or their family, then it is an issue.
Impact on Children
- If you have children with your partner, then now would be a good time to reevaluate your habits in terms of how your drinking could have an impact. Judgment and reactions are impaired by alcohol use, and children don’t always understand that drinking is the reason. A child with an alcoholic parent can grow up to believe that their parent’s irrational response to their actions was their fault, without acknowledging it was due to their parent’s intoxication or inebriation. Children are vulnerable and malleable, and adults under the influence of alcohol are rarely able to cater to these traits, therefore leaving a child confused and upset.
- Routine can be a good thing! Things like alcohol that impair your ability to adhere to your routine can be toxic. If you find that alcohol is leaving you sick, or unable to perform your daily obligations, then it is most likely also a problem for your relationship. This can lead to frustration, irritability, and even aggression. Being drunk is always a gamble, but if you find that it is swinging in a generally negative direction for you and your partner, then it may be time to find a new hobby.
Drinking to Feel Happy
- Life is beautiful, and it’s even more beautiful when you’re in love. If you find that you or your partner are looking to drink to feel better about your relationship, or in general, then it is probably unhealthy. This mindset can also lead to issues like aggression and violence. If aggression and violence have become a problem in your relationship it’s imperative that you seek help. If you are not content with your life or your relationship before adding alcohol into the mix, then it is time to reevaluate and understand why before you try to supplement it.
Drinking is Above Everything Else (including your partner)
- Sometimes, when alcohol becomes an issue in relationships, it starts to become a priority in life. People start to constantly look forward to the next drink, as addiction begins to develop. It can become more important to go to a bar after work than it is to go home to a partner, or it can become difficult to communicate with each other without a drink in hand. Always put yourself and your partner before any other superficial habits.
Lack of Sex Drive
- Sexual dysfunction or disinterest is a common side-effect of alcohol. It could be one person experiencing this, or both, but be aware of your sexual habits, and if they seem to be regular. If they aren’t, it might be time to consider why.
Alcohol is a powerful force on our society, our communities, our families, and our relationships. And all too often it has serious and negative effects on the ones we love. It is important to be acutely aware of alcohol’s presence in our life and its influence on our loved ones and to acknowledge it when we believe it is becoming a problem.