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Complex Situation

by Anon

I have been married for one year. I sell beer and wine for a living. I am not just a sales rep but I am extremely hands on by hosting and attending events that have an emphasis on drinking.

For the most part, it is a 9-5 job but there are a few nights in a month where I have a wine tasting or a pint night somewhere. I am worried because my wife seems to have a problem with alcohol.

She's always had a very low tolerance for alcohol and completely acts out when she has a little too much. She doesn't drink everyday but when she does drink, she rarely does in moderation.

Even when she does start drinking around me, I try to tell to pace herself and even to stop drinking and she keeps saying she is fine and she can control it. She never follows up with that and always embarrasses herself.

By a low tolerance, I am talking about 3-5 drinks. There doesn't seem to be any dependency issues with alcohol, it's just she can't handle anything. I don't want to have to change careers because I make a good living and I truly love what I do.

I don't want to ruin my wife's life by keeping alcohol around and putting her in situations where there is an alcohol presence even though all evening and weekend activities in the area we live in have alcohol available.

I guess my question is if she is an alcoholic just because there is no tolerance and she acts out when she is drunk? It's only a matter of time before she blows up at a work event. Answer

At this stage it's difficult to say whether your wife a problem with alcohol, but if she continues to embarrass herself and behave inappropriately when she drinks, yet isn't able to moderate her drinking, it certainly is a sign she may be developing a problem.

There are two sides to the issue here. If your wife does genuinely have a problem, your job is of little relevance. She'll find a way to drink no matter what your job is and whether alcohol is readily available in the house. It's what alcoholics do.

The other is, how importantly you value your marriage because if she is showing signs of early stages of alcoholism and decides she wants to get sober, your career certainly isn't going to help. But at this stage it's probably too early to make a definite decision because you can't be sure.

Alcoholism isn't necessarily a function of how much a person drinks, rather the ability to control their consumption once they start (i.e. they can't and lose control) ... and the negative consequences their drinking begins having on their life. So the fact that your wife only has a few drinks before she loses control and can't stop before it gets to that point, is a worrying sign.

But it may be nothing more than her trying to have a good time and not realising how badly she ends up behaving once she's had too much to drink. So the the first step for you would be to have an honest conversation about how her drinking makes you feel, giving specific examples of where it's led to her behaving inappropriately/in an embarrassing manner.

And then just monitor the situation because that may be all it takes. Communicating your feelings honestly (without being accusing or belittling) are critical steps because most loved ones tend to ignore/play down what's happening, or just respond with anger which ends up inflaming the situation.

Because its in the early stages try that and see what happens. If things continue you'll have to adopt a different approach, but hopefully it doesn't get to that. And encourage your wife to seek out help if she feels it has become an issue, because many still feel they'll be stigmatised admitting to alcoholism - so make it okay for her to open up and 'come clean' with what she's going through.

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