Alcohol abuse – a BIG passive-aggressive “FU” to controlling spouses and/or other family members…
High up on the long list of benefits many of us derive from abusing alcohol is the way it allows us to move from passive to passive-aggressive when we can’t quite manage assertiveness in our personal relationships.
It’s no exaggeration to say that it is one of the most common conditions we see.
The surprising parts are that this lack of assertiveness occurs with those of you who are highly successful and very assertive, even aggressive, in you professional lives. Equally interesting, men are just as apt to be the ones being bullied by aggressive spouses as women.
Wow! Who’d have thought that?
As usual, the underlying causes of alcohol abuse are almost always overlooked in traditional programs, outpatient or residential, because they don’t respond to “don’t drink, go to AA” prescription – the only one they have.
Not surprisingly, however, the one appeal AA does hold is that it’s another great way to say FU to those same spouses and other annoying people who’d like you to get a grip and a life. Much easier to disappear into the cult avoiding life once again – though in a way that’s harder to criticize than drinking.
But you want to get better, or want someone you love to, and that means changing the roles within marriages and families. Exchanging passive and aggressive, controlling and passive-aggressive roles and acting out for assertive intimacy.
That means changing the couples’ dance for both partners, which is why we like to involve spouses as well as treat couples. (Also see Alcohol Treatment For Couples)
Time to end the passive-aggressive blame dance – “I wouldn’t drink if he’d come home!” “I’d come home if she wasn’t drunk!” – and all the other variations?
Then let us help with the problems no one else is equipped to address – even if they wanted to.
Authority vs Responsibility
Part of the “dance” that leads to resentments and passive-aggressive drinking comes from imbalances within relationships. Couples have a very hard time seeing to it that responsibility and authority balance.
What does that mean? It means that if I am responsible for something then I have the authority to decide how it’s done with room for discussion and negotiation.
Small example – if I’m the one doing the dishes then whether I do them by hand or in the dish washer, or how I load the dish washer, is up to me.
Bigger example – if I’m responsible for maintaining the monthly budget then I’m going to have more say about spending.
Another area of disagreement – if “his” income is “our” money then so is “hers”. A lot of women have trouble with that one.
Power imbalances result when one spouse demands control while holding the other spouse responsible for the results. It never works and results in all sorts of struggles, fights, and retaliation where sex and alcohol, usually both, become the weapons of choice.
Time to end the war?
Again – we address the war, help arrange the cease fire, and work with you to design a lasting peace.
Do you have a better idea? We didn’t think so.
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