Should You Leave?
This question frequently comes up in the course of the work we do, of course. While one might suppose that it’s the client’s spouse who’s asking the question, it’s more frequently the drinker who’s actually wondering.
How can that be?
It turns out that it’s common for a alcohol abuse to pr ovide a couple of benefits when the drinker is married, or coupled with a controlling, abusive, demeaning, or otherwise disturbed and disturbing spouse.
Specifically, alcohol erects a “protective bubble” around the drinker, protecting them from the worst effects of the domineering and/or demanding and abusive partner.
It is also an excellent passive-aggressive way to say “FU, try controlling this, you b******”
So what happens when you stop drinking?
You tend to become assertive; to want you vote back in family decision making; and to wonder why you’ve been enduring all of the humiliation.
Meanwhile, sensing that they are losing control (their plan, after all, was to finally gain control over your drinking by making you stop, not lose control over you) the dominating spouse escalates the abuse.
You’ve learned that you don’t have to put up with being intimidated, demeaned, manipulated, or to have your former mis-use of alcohol used against you.
For your part, you’ll no longer need alcohol’s protection nor its “screw you” benefit.
That’s when you begin to consider leaving, or suggesting that they do so.
Obviously this is a more complicated topic than this brief essay can address, but in considering a cost/benefit analysis of your marriage or relationship, you might also want to pick up a copy of “Should You Leave” by Peter Kramer.
If nothing else, you can just leave it laying around the house…
Alcohol abuse also tends to have a way of alienating us from ourselves. Specifically, it’s hard on our self-image in that it doesn’t usually fit with our picture of what it means to be a good parent, partner, spouse, community member, professional, and so on.
This discontinuity between our image and our behaviors leads to a lot of discomfort which we then tend to anesthetize with even more alcohol. Not a productive cycle.
Of course if we then do what everyone suggests and head off to AA we discover that that’s even more demeaning and more dehumanizing than drinking – but at least we’ve ruled out that dead end.
But since you’ve signed up for our Newsletter you pretty much had that part figured out.
Which brings us back to congruency.
If you are going to correct the problem you will want to do so in ways that are in keeping with your image as a competent person – a process that is based on your strengths, abilities, and interests. A way based on research, not joining a cult, expecting magic, or hoping for an effortless miracle to occur at some over-priced Malibu spa.
Instead, isn’t it just possible that with a little help (brief interventions being the most effective way to end alcohol problems) you can align your beliefs, actions, and image to create a new day-to-day life in keeping with your “best possible self?”
That, in a few short paragraphs, describes what we do. And a free call will answer any questions or concerns, and, yes, Mary Ellen and I answer the phone ourselves.