How Can I Talk to my Partner When he is Drunk?
I live with my partner who will admit he has a drinking problem. This I can accept (no one is perfect) but I need a way to talk to him in the 'dark' hours of his drinking. I have tried the 'nicely nicely' approach and it doesn’t work, neither does shouting.I am fed up with his excuses and insistence that he is 'allowed' or 'earned' the right to drink to excess. He is a danger to himself more than anything and I am worried sick when he is drinking. Can you help me?
The first thing about dealing with someone who has been drinking is to understand that they are not the person they are when they’re sober. Whatever good sense and reason they might have in the cold light of day, this sensibility will desert them after a few drinks.
Trying to talk to someone under the influence of alcohol is difficult, whether they’re a fun, sociable kind of drinker or a moody and aggressive drunk. Alcohol switches off normal behaviour and trying to reason with a drunk person is not going to work.
Without knowing more about your partner’s reasons for drinking it’s difficult to offer much advice. How often does this happen? If it’s a common occurrence and happening a lot then I would say the problem could be quite serious. If it affects friendships, social occasions, work or even financial matters in your relationship and lifestyle, then you need to look very carefully at this relationship and decide whether you should persist in working at it if this level of drinking continues.
Whatever the level of habitual drinking though, if it’s making you unhappy and placing a strain on your relationship, then something needs to change. It’s all very well saying you accept it, but is that reasonable? On the one hand you seem to want to pardon it, saying nobody is perfect but your next sentence is very telling. “I am fed up…”
Living with someone who has a drink problem is damaging, upsetting and destructive. It’s not OK at all and you shouldn’t have to put up with it. It also means that by accepting it you’re helping him perpetuate the problem and realistically it doesn’t sound like a healthy situation for him either.
You say your partner has confessed to having a drinking problem and this is very encouraging. The first step in sorting this out is for him to face up to it. If it’s an intermittent problem there are ways to address this, but if it’s more serious and he cannot control the way he is behaving, he will have to look at giving up completely.
The short answer to your question is that there is no good way to talk to someone who is drunk. The best thing you can do is try not to engage in conversation on any serious level, and wait until he sobers up to discuss this properly, and tell him it’s making you unhappy. If he persists in claiming that he deserves to be able to drink to excess and refuses to acknowledge it makes life hard for you when he is drunk, then perhaps you need to look at whether you deserve to be dealing with it. The answer is probably no.
Hopefully your partner will understand your point of view and take what you say on board. If not, I can only stress that living with this is not normal, and not acceptable, and you should not have to cope with it.