Dear Dr. Jory,
I think my husband drinks too much. Last Saturday, our kids were off with my sister for the evening, and I asked my husband, Jeff, if he wanted to make love. He said, “We’re out of Vodka, so I’m not really feeling it right now.” After that statement, I lost the mood myself. Jeff plans every weekend around drinking. He avoids events or parties where there won’t be lots of drinking. He works from our home office and he recently installed a bar in it and I notice he’s restocking it practically every day. After this past Saturday night, I realize he even plans our lovemaking around drinking. I am tired of competing with alcohol.
Signed, Scared He’s an Alcoholic
Jeff may be struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder which is indicated by some of these signs: He may drink large amounts over time, thinks and talks a lot about drinking, has unsuccessfully tried to cut down, (he may increase his drinking after trying to stop), is not fulfilling some responsibilities due to alcohol, has made poor judgments or put himself in risky situations (like driving under the influence), has alcohol-related mental or physical health concerns, and has withdrawal symptoms when he tries to stop. He may not have all these signs, but I doubt you would have contacted me if you weren’t seeing some or all of them.
One of my patients described her situation this way: “I woke up one morning and realized that any time my husband has to choose between drinking and me, he chooses drinking every time. It’s hard to face, but I feel completely empty and alone.”
It’s time to practice tough love with Jeff and self-love with yourself and your kids. Demand that he seek treatment with a reputable professional or treatment facility that specializes in addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous has a good track record with many—but he has to go. Any kind of addiction impacts everyone in the family, so seek help for yourself and your children. Alanon can be helpful with family members like you. You can find the help you need online or your employer may have a referral service. Seeking help for yourself may be hard because of fear that people will judge you. That’s normal, but don’t worry what anyone thinks. It’s your life and you have a right to be happy. Seek help now—this will get worse. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
— Dr. Jory
Do you have a burning question about intimacy, sex, or relationships?
Send Brian Jory, Ph.D. your question via Facebook Messenger or through this contact form for a chance to have it answered in the Dear Dr. Jory advice column series. Submissions will remain anonymous; your real name will not be used.
About Brian Jory, Ph.D.
Brian Jory is the Director of the Family Studies Program at Berry College, near Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and has dedicated his career to counseling couples, teaching about intimacy, researching relationships.
He is the author of “Cupid on Trial – What We Learn About Love When Loving Gets Tough,” and has been featured on numerous television shows, blogs, and podcasts including Bustle, Romper, Elite Daily, NBC, PBS, and Good Sex, Bad Sex.