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 alcohol abuse to provide a couple of benefits when the drinker is married, or coupled with a controlling, abusive, demeaning, or otherwise disturbed and/or 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.

Too late.

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. Remember, your spouse/partner also benefits from your drinking. These benefits almost always include not having to clean up their own problems since they are masked by your drinking.

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. That’s a better passive-aggressive act than downing another two bottles of Chardonnay.