Monday 14 October 2019

Dear Mary: My husband is drinking too much

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Mary O’Conor

My partner and I have hit a wall in our relationship over drinking and going out and I don't know how we can overcome it.

He has always been a drinker and we used to enjoy going out together. However things began to change and he was no longer the same person when drunk.

He has said and done things I still find hard to forgive. I worry that it has become a problem for him and feel he needs to have his few pints two to three times a week, sometimes drinking at home as well.

I understand he needs a way to unwind after work but we have small children and I feel he doesn't fully understand the pressures of being at home 24/7 with them.

We have tried to sort this with agreements on how often he goes out, or trying periods without drinking, but it has never worked and I'm worried this is the end of our relationship.

I still love him and want us to be together. How do we work through this?

A The very fact that you are writing to me shows that alcohol is causing a problem in your relationship, no matter how much your husband denies it.

It seems that he has progressed from being a social drinker, which both of you enjoyed together, to becoming somewhat dependent on alcohol in order to relax.

Using alcohol to de-stress, as opposed to complementing a meal or in shared company, is a dangerous route to go down because the amount of alcohol needed to de-stress increases and can lead to dependence.

Obviously further down the line it can lead to addiction and affect physical and mental wellbeing.

I understand that he needs to switch off after work and enjoys his pints, but at the same time you are at home having been with the children all day. Children are at their most fractious in the early evening so you would equally benefit from being able to switch off earlier than you currently do.

You have tried various things that haven't worked, so how about a compromise?

Suggest that every second night Monday-Thursday when he gets home from work one of you is free to shower/read/take a run while the other looks after the children for, say, 45 minutes.

On Friday he is free to meet his mates for a few pints and then Saturday and Sunday are your nights together unless you want one of those nights to meet your friends while he babysits.

I know that people will contact me saying that he needs to stop drinking altogether, and this may be so, but I am suggesting somewhere midway between his current practice and total abstinence.

If he isn't able or willing to do this then he indeed has a problem that will have to be addressed. The website would be a good resource for you both to start with.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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