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How Can I Talk to my Partner When he is Drunk?

By: Sam Harrington-Lowe - Updated: 12 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
How Can I Talk To My Partner When He Is Drunk?

Q.

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?

(Miss D P, 15 October 2008)

A.

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.

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Steffy - Your Question:
I have been dating this guy, I feel I have never been so madly in love with someone and he has been a dribker from the start but never was hard to deal with. The last 6 months or so he has been dribking a lot more and he is very cruel, disrespectful and snide toward me, accusing me of saying things ans thinking rhings I don't say like that I think he is fat and ugly. He has a gorgeous body but he thinks he is overweight and then says I am not attracted to him. The drunk version of him says he is leaving, packing up all his stuff and we are done. I consequently cry at night and then the next morning he says how amazing I am and that I'm the love of his life and we talk about marriage and children. I am so emotionally torn between the sober man that I am so inlove with and the drunk man that is spiteful and cruel. How do I talk to him to get him to want to drink less? What do I say to make him realize? He also says he wasn't that drunk and doesnt remember saying the mean things he says about me. However, today he said he thinks his drinking is getting overboard and that he needs to cool it. I had some hope but then we went out for dinner and a couple drinks and he was great. Until he had a whole glass of whiskey as soon as we sat on the couch. Then he was mean again and threatened to leave again. Ugh. I dont want to lose the man I love so much who does so much for me and helps around the house and is the best in bed I've ever had and is so caring and loving and gentle with me but I dont want do be around him when he is drunk and mean. Any advice?

Our Response:
Your partner has admitted that he drinks too much, that's a really good start. That in itself will not be enough for him to stop. You need to help him take the next step and get some help from an organisation like Alcoholics Anonymous.
AlcoholIssues - 13-Aug-18 @ 12:01 PM
I have been dating this guy, I feel I have never been so madly in love with someone and he has been a dribker from the start but never was hard to deal with. The last 6 months or so he has been dribking a lot more and he is very cruel, disrespectful and snide toward me, accusing me of saying things ans thinking rhings I don't say like that I think he is fat and ugly. He has a gorgeous body but he thinks he is overweight and then says I am not attracted to him. The drunk version of him says he is leaving, packing up all his stuff and we are done. I consequently cry at night and then the next morning he says how amazing I am and that I'm the love of his life and we talk about marriage and children. I am so emotionally torn between the sober man that I am so inlove with and the drunk man that is spiteful and cruel. How do I talk to him to get him to want to drink less? What do I say to make him realize? He also says he wasn't that drunk and doesnt remember saying the mean things he says about me. However, today he said he thinks his drinking is getting overboard and that he needs to cool it. I had some hope but then we went out for dinner and a couple drinks and he was great... Until he had a whole glass of whiskey as soon as we sat on the couch. Then he was mean again and threatened to leave again. Ugh. I dont want to lose the man I love so much who does so much for me and helps around the house and is the best in bed I've ever had and is so caring and loving and gentle with me but I dont want do be around him when he is drunk and mean. Any advice?
Steffy - 12-Aug-18 @ 10:33 AM
Hello I have been in relationship with my hubby for 5 years he is a acohoilic he has been verbally abusive to me and my girls. Never physical. Anyway my parents got involved I told them not to and leave it be my dad showed up at a bar where he was and made a scene when he was already drunk. Made it worse we are getting help but how do I remove the toxic controlling people out of my life I can't continue to have my parents make bad choices like that he is a good man and I want to help him they make him feel less and less every time judging him
Lori - 9-Jun-16 @ 3:52 PM
Madness - Your Question:
I married a man 5 years ago who appeared to be everything that I was looking for. Though there was heavy drinking from the start I naively thought that it would slow down after we got married. It didn't and I found myself going down the slippery slope as well. There was huge mistrust on his part and very obsessive behaviour plus lots of other signs as well. Two years ago his PA of 15 years was found to have stolen close to a million pounds from him over that time. I stepped him and helped him sort out all the paperwork as his business very nearly went under. The situation just roller coasted and there were more drink fuelled rows which led to me leaving the marital home. We susequently divorced but he was desperate to win me back and in June of last year I started dating him again and kept him very much at arm's length though I wanted us to be together. The distance kept me safe from his drinking as he promised me that he had cut down and I also knew that for my own good I didn't want to go back on that slippery slide again. I have now just found out that he is seeing a young woman of 33 years old who has a cocaine habit and abuses alcohol. She has been into rehab on numerous ocassions. She self harms and has been on suicide watch and been admitted to a phsyciatric unit a couple of time. She has been banned from driving for 3 years on Friday of this week and was seen driving his vehicle on the road. He has a firearms and shotgun certificate and stores guns in his temporary mobile home. He is 68 years old! I feel a duty of care to report what is going on but I don't want it to come back on me.

Our Response:
Could you try Crime Stoppers UK if you want to remain anonymous?
AlcoholIssues - 4-Feb-16 @ 12:33 PM
I married a man 5 years ago who appeared to be everything that I was looking for.Though there was heavy drinking from the start I naively thought that it would slow down after we got married.It didn't and I found myself going down the slippery slope as well.There was huge mistrust on his part and very obsessive behaviour plus lots of other signs as well.Two years ago his PA of 15 years was found to have stolen close to a million pounds from him over that time.I stepped him and helped him sort out all the paperwork as his business very nearly went under.The situation just roller coasted and there were more drink fuelled rows which led to me leaving the marital home.We susequently divorced but he was desperate to win me back and in June of last year I started dating him again and kept him very much at arm's length though I wanted us to be together.The distance kept me safe from his drinking as he promised me that he had cut down and I also knew that for my own good I didn't want to go back on that slippery slide again.I have now just found out that he is seeing a young woman of 33 years old who has a cocaine habit and abuses alcohol.She has been into rehab on numerous ocassions.She self harms and has been on suicide watch and been admitted to a phsyciatric unit a couple of time. She has been banned from driving for 3 years on Friday of this week and was seen driving his vehicle on the road.He has a firearms and shotgun certificate and stores guns in his temporary mobile home. He is 68 years old!I feel a duty of care to report what is going on but I don't want it to come back on me.
Madness - 3-Feb-16 @ 10:52 AM
Hope you can help.My son 47yrs old is a bing drinker.He is single and has no one in his life but me, his dad.He says , when i am gone, what will be come of himself. Allthough i am 71 yrs old.I tell him not to worry as by the time i go he will be in his 60s and well able to take care of himself. Except for not having a full time job and over using his bank card.. He is well able to take care of himself. I was hoping, you might be able to put me in touch with some one in the Liverpool UK area, who i might help me.As his bing drinking is causing a whole lot of stress One last thing. If you (i hope you do) reply to my request. Please call me Steve, as i would not like my son to find this email. Keep up the work and Many thanks. Steve PS He has tried counseling but has not stopped him
Steve - 14-Nov-13 @ 9:00 PM
Hi Marky. What a worry for you. My guess, unfortunately, would be that there is not. Even if the proprietor banned him for his own good, there will always be the next pub down the road that will be happy to take your fathers money. Sad but true I'm afraid. How addicted is your father? I can recommend a good book ... Allen Carr's Easy way to control alcohol, though the will to give up or cut down will need to be there in the first place. Have you tried talking your concerns over with your father, or is there another member of your family who can help? Wishing you and your father all the best for the future.
smidgekat - 23-Sep-12 @ 10:31 AM
What I want to know is, is there any law or procedure I can use to force our local pub to stop serving my alcoholic father. Ive asked them politely to bar him and they admit he has a problem but he spends alot of money in there and they are reluctant to stop him coming in.
marky - 27-Oct-11 @ 12:26 PM
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