Q: My wife and I have been married for 23 years. We used to drink a lot together, but about a year ago, I lost interest in drinking and the whole bar thing. My wife says I'm no fun anymore, and we fight a lot. When she drinks she treats me badly, so I told her she needs to stop drinking. I am afraid that the fighting is out of control and that we are saying things that are going to hurt our marriage in the future. I love my wife very much and I don't want to hurt her anymore, but I just don't know what to do. -- Rob, 45
Dr. Susan: A lot of people eventually grow out of "the bar thing," and find other ways to have fun than by getting plastered. But the key thing you wrote is that she treats you badly when she's drinking. She can't be allowed to do that. That's emotional abuse. If the liquor is contributing to that, then she should indeed give up the drinking. You each do have control over how you fight. If you find you're hurting one another by the way you fight, then make an appointment with a counselor and get some help before it's too late. You're the one asking for a change in the way you've related for the past couple of decades. And it's a terrific change! Change, though, is not easy to impose on someone else. Let her know you love her and want the fighting to stop. And especially that you can't tolerate any abuse. Perhaps you could both try for some kind of compromise, such as her drinking much less, and only at home. Then find some fun stuff you can get involved in to fill in the space left by giving up "the bar thing." Good luck!
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.