After the questions, what are the common complaints?
Complaints come from both clients and family members but these frequently have the same basis. It comes down to clients wanting the “problem” to be fixed without actually having to do much of anything, and spouses who don’t want the solution to have any impact on them.
What do you think the chances are?
We all know, whether we’ve ever had an alcohol problem or not, that we want some personal problem to be miraculously fixed, but we don’t really want to go through the process.
You want to have quit drinking 6 months ago, or have lost the weight a year ago, or completed that degree in 2004, or dumped the boyfriend after the holidays, or…… In other words, we want the “doing” over and the results in hand without actually engaging in any activity to make it happen.
Of course spouses also want wives and husbands to make major changes in their lives without it disrupting theirs. But alcohol abuse occurs within a context and spouses are a major part of the context. No, they aren’t responsible for the choice to drink, but they are affected by it – and they are equally affected by the choice to stop.
Changing your drinking behavior is an active process – you replace short term benefits (and long term costs) with long term benefits (and, yes, some short term costs).
You can’t just wait for it to happen. As we all know, life doesn’t work that way.
Talking about it – whether in therapy or at the AA meeting – isn’t going to do it either, unless you’re one of the 3% that it actually does work for.
Going off to traditional rehab doesn’t work much better. Eventually you have to return to reality and you’re usually still poorly equipped for that. In fact, most people return angry, resentful, and with a pocketful of excuses to continue or escalate their alcohol abuse (“I can’t help it. I’m powerless over my disease!”)
In addition to the motivation issue we wrote about last week, there is an attitudinal one. If you view giving up alcohol as all about loss, you’re probably doomed. If you see it as a benefit then you’re going to see making the choice to change in that same light.
Will you miss drinking from time to time? Of course.
But when your life is better without the alcohol abuse it’s fairly easy to choose long term benefits over short term ones.
When you’re actively living your life, it’s easier to reject passively drinking your way through it.
When you and your spouse share an intimate relationship with each other it’s pretty darn easy to skip the relationship you had with the bottle.
When your health is much improved it’s a lot more fun to do stuff other than slump through the day in the recliner.
And when the alcohol induced depression and mental fog lift, well, it’s amazing how good life can feel.
Maybe it’s time to sit down with your husband or wife and do a cost benefit analysis of drinking vs. quitting? Do it separately then do one together.
Then give us a call and let’s see how to get those benefits. Then in six months you can look back and say, “Damn, I’m glad I did that then instead of waiting!”
Yes, we’re married…
…but not to each other. So there’s the answer to another commonly asked question. Is it important?
Actually, we think it is. Combining our practices five years ago into the comprehensive design we created meant making changes and that meant dealing with our spouses’ objections, real or imagined.
We were each leaving established lives and patterns – Ed left his secure position at an adolescent psychiatric hospital (good pay, great benefits, short hours, 12 weeks vacation, etc…) and Mary Ellen left a very flexible schedule and world travel.
Why would we do that?
Because we were bored and don’t do well with that.
Like you, we tend to either be productive or a bit self-destructive. So, we elected to make some pretty major changes, and take the risks, in order to be more productive than ever before.
It worked. Not without anxiety, disruption, and unexpected consequences. But our lives, and those of our spouses, are much enhanced.
So are the lives of our clients.
Besides that, we have reinforced that, yes, we do practice what we preach. Actively pursue the life you want and you can achieve it.
Our spouses? After some initial skepticism they agree – we’re happier and, consequently, so are they. Are there occasional grumbles? From us? From them? Of course. But the net result is that we’re all leading better lives.
Isn’t that what you want to do too?
You already read the Newsletter, the next part can start with just a call…
As always, one of us answers the phone personally from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, Monday – Thursday, unless we are with clients, or from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
If we don’t answer, leave your name and number and one of us will usually be able to get back to you within an hour.
Toll Free From the Lower 48 or Canada: 888-541-6350
In Los Angeles, or from Alaska: 760-580-5758