I would find it difficult to believe that all couples don’t have them. I guess I can exclude couples that don’t drink. It’s easy enough to understand. Alcohol, loosens up our tongues, amps up our emotions, erases our consciousness of consequences, and makes us want to talk a lot. When couples are going through times of particular change or stress, they have the perfect ingredients for a drinkument. Just add liquor.
When my husband and I were in the second year of our marriage, we had a run of them. Ironically they were one sided on the alcohol. I was pregnant with our twins. We had just moved back to my family farm, and were living in the same house with my mother and my grandmother. I wouldn’t drink a drop, being pregnant, but I was hopped up like crazy on hormones. My poor husband was anxious and stressed and I think that it depressed him to drink alone, so he would get home late and have a few quick beers and the arguments ensued.
They were never easy to go through, but I think that in the long run, for us, they were helpful in sorting out a lot of feelings. He and I worked through a lot of childhood wounds that way, so in a sense the drinkuments were productive. We have always followed the rules though…even in the midst of an alcohol influenced argument we do not label each other, we do not call names, and we would never dream of physically threatening one another.
I have more than a few friends who have not established rules, I have witnessed their drinkuments, and they have not been pretty things. They have certainly been nowhere near productive. With some of the fights I have witnessed, I wonder how the couples live with it. In trying to address, besides sticking to the rules, how my husband and I have gotten through these situations without damaging each other, here are my best guesses:
1. We are both seriously convinced of the other’s loyalty. I believe that we know we are not living in the venerable place where one of us might get left behind. That place is scary, and it makes partners desperate to hold on. Show your partner that they can trust you every day.
2. My husband and I have managed to define our general drinkument dynamic at this point in our marriage. My husband is a super enthusiastic person and I am a skeptical one, it’s how we balance each other. In a drinkument, typically, my husband wants me to get as excited as he is, and show my support…whereas that pushes me in to my unrealistically afraid place, by getting the wheels spinning in my head. I start to panic over all of the things that could go wrong, all of the ways that we could fail…blah, blah, blah. If we don’t recognize what is going on right away the situation devolves into him feeling rejected and me feeling tragically misunderstood.
3. We have figured out over the years, how to notice when the drinkument is upon us and stop it. All that it really takes is to acknowledge what is happening out loud, and to go in different directions, agreeing to disagree. Going to sleep works great. It actually is that simple. Training yourself and your partner to catch it in time is key.
4. Most pivotally, the drinkument deserves a long patient conversation a day or two later, when both parties are clear headed. I know couples that only discuss the things that are bothering them when they are both inebriated. I guess this is because it is the only time that they have the courage to breach the subjects on their minds. It is really important to be courageous and bring up the subject when you can talk it out with your partner rationally and kindly. Communication is so important; it involves active listening and active sharing. Good communication can make or break a relationship, so keep it going.
Of course, we could all just vow to never drink again, but that is pretty unrealistic. It is always more difficult to avoid the drinkument in times of difficulty or grief. Knowing how to forgive and forgive honestly is very important; just as important as knowing how to deliver a truthful apology. Keep in mind that adrenaline is addictive, and I have known couples that would purposely march into alcohol-fueled battles, in public of course, to feed their addiction to that rush that it gave them. If you know someone who is in one of these relationships…wow, be a good friend to them, because those relationships don’t often last.
Be aware of the illusive drinkument…one can sneak up on you at any moment. Make rules with your partner and follow them. Remember to apologize, and to forgive. Remind your significant other that you love them and that they can trust you, and if you notice a drinkument is starting up, derail it before it gets out of hand. I hope these ideas are helpful. People that I love have been hurt this way. If I could help to stop the damaging drinkument pattern from developing in even one relationship, it would make me very happy.
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