Is Your Drinking Ruining Your Marriage?

For some men, whether they know it or not, their marriage may be eroding because of their drinking. Drinking may start social, but then it turns into an everyday occurrence, or the like, and then it begins to have negative effects on you, your family and your marriage.

Some men don’t want to stop the party. I know and talk with a lot of men that need to get drunk or wasted, and can’t stop after one or two.

Similarly, some men don’t want to grow up, in the sense that they are stuck trying to relive their wonderful years as a single, bachelor 20-something. Those guys forgot to hang that part of them up when marriage and a family came into the mix.

If you’re drinking, but don’t consider yourself an alcoholic, you may be a binge drinker, or abusing alcohol, and may be stuck in alcoholic tendencies to rationalize, deny or basically push away the problems of your marriage, and creating new ones with your drinking.

The drinking patterns also affect children. They aren’t getting the best of you, and you’re teaching them that alcohol abuse is okay. They’re more likely to start drinking earlier, and continue with the drinking into adulthood, if that’s what they’ve had to model from you growing up. You’re also missing out on valuable sober time that you could be enjoying with your children (and your wife, for that matter), by being drunk, or fighting about drinking when you’re not drunk.

“Parent-child” relationships grow out of a man’s desire to drink excessively in his marriage. What happens is, both partners end up unconsciously fulfilling certain roles of parent and child. Often times, in this case, it’s the man that becomes the “child” and defies his wife who becomes the “parent” or “mommy.” It shrinks your ability to have a fulfilling, adult relationship when you pit each other into these dysfunctional roles, and creates anger, lack of fulfillment, and abandonment on your wife or girlfriend’s part.

The “child” often ends up defying or acting like a child who doesn’t want to comply with the wishes of the parent by drinking more, against the “parent’s” directive, and demonstrating behaviors designed to anger the other spouse. This creates a whole slew of other issues, and more resentment, on top of the drinking and the problems you may be avoiding with the drinking.

Admitting to yourself that you are guilty of binge drinking, and that you may need some help, is step one. There are good programs out there that can help you dry out and live a sober life. It may not be possible just to stop it yourself, as I’ve heard so many men tell me. I know men think that they’re capable of doing many things themselves, and stopping drinking is certainly no exception. But, this may be out of your control.

If you stop drinking, you’re probably going to have to deal with a host of other problems that have been hidden behind the drinking, and those could include marital dissatisfaction, anger at wife/yourself, hurt, jealousy, general unhappiness, and the list goes on. For many, looking “under the rocks” at the problems they’ll find after you they stop drinking is too difficult, and the drinking is the easier route in the short-term. But, in the long-term, it’s a different story.

The long-term effects are that you’re probably destroying your marriage, and your family, with your continued drinking and unwillingness to stop – even if it’s not alcoholism.

It will also take redesigning your life to not revolve around alcohol, including reconsidering happy hours, outings with the boys where alcohol is the main feature, family events including alcohol, or putting yourself in a situation where you’re tempted to drink more than you should (and for some, drink at all). Sporting events may need to be reconsidered if your primary aim by going there is to drink or get drunk.

Our culture and lifestyles are bombarded with opportunities to drink and be social, and alcohol is everywhere. Like food, it’s what brings us together, especially for men. It may take some willingness to stop putting yourself in these types of situations if it means you’re trying to heal your marriage.

Including alcohol recovery and sobriety, you’ll probably need either individual counseling or marriage counseling to help you deal with the problems you’ll face after you stop drinking – either the ones you’re fleeing from by drinking, and the ones caused by the drinking itself.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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