When we’ve quit drinking but our spouse hasn’t, it can be challenging to coexist. So, how do we approach this topic with him/her? Annie answers this frequently asked question for us and gives us helpful advice on what do to and what not to do.
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What Not To Do
Giving someone an ultimatum is almost always counterproductive because it increases their level of stress. I am pretty sure that he just loves you very much and if you put that out there, “So do you love beer more than me?” It’s going to be an impossible situation for him because of course he doesn’t, but he doesn’t know how to get unstuck if he wants to get unstuck from where he’s at. So my advice would be, imagine how you would have felt if the tables were turned and suddenly your husband had this big epiphany about drinking, he stopped drinking and then he came to you, what would you want him to say? How would you want him to act?
Focus On You
I would absolutely try to focus on what’s happening inside you. All the great things that you’re experiencing, the freedom you feel, the health you feel, all the benefits you feel, and not focus the conversation on him. You want him to be able to see in you something that he wants rather than to feel like he needs to change for you because change for another person never sticks ever. We can do it in the short term, but we can’t do it in the long term. We have to, we must 100%, I know this to be true, got to change for ourselves at some level. And yes, that other person can be the catalyst at some stages, but ultimately you have to want something different inside your heart.
I’ve had a lot of readers write me and say that their husbands aren’t supportive when they stop drinking, and actually they’re pretty judgmental and they tell them things like, “Oh, you’re just not as fun as you used to be,” or, “I wish you would drink with me. It’s something we used to do together,” and they get pretty unsupportive of the healthy decision. So the fact that he is being supportive of the change you’ve made, I’d say speaks volumes. Many people of course, do that because they’re so insecure in their own drinking behavior that they want a partner in crime, so to speak. And so when that partner in crime leaves the building, it makes them feel really vulnerable and exposed. We need to avoid ultimatums in both instances – choosing to drink or not.
So I would say that speaks volumes about how your husband feels about you. And so at most during this conversation, I wouldn’t make it the big talk. I wouldn’t make it a big deal. I would just say, “I want to tell you about, you’ve probably noticed I don’t drink as much or I don’t drink like I used to. And I want to tell you about why and I’m wondering if you’d be interested in reading this book.” And I’d probably just leave it at that and then see where it goes.
Curious on how to start the conversation but avoid ultimatums? Start reading This Naked Mind for free today!
Listen to the complete podcast for more on how to talk to a spouse about their drinking and how to avoid ultimatums.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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