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My Partner Gets Drunk Only Once in a While but it Bothers the Kids a lot

Hi, I am not sure how serious this situation is. I know I don't like it but I'm not sure it has reached a level beyond that. My partner and I have been together for 24 years and we have 2 kids, ages 14 and 17.

About once a month she gets drunk but not falling-down drunk. She then gets a look in her eyes and usually gets defensive or sometimes starts picking on people. My 14 year old got upset because she insisted that he gave her the finger (he didn't). She then gave him the finger and said "f*** you" to him. He said "You're drunk" and she stormed out of the room.

This is the kind of situation that might happen every month or two. Then I go to her the next day and tell her how damaging this is to the kids. She says she'll stop or reduce her intake which she does for about a month, and then it happens again. It never gets worse than this, but I worry about my son.

Tonight he started sounding codependent in the way he is trying to process it. He'll say "it's better not to talk to her when she's drunk because she'll just get mad" and he'll ask me "How much did she have to drink anyway?" I also worry that just witnessing this might make him get a screwed up view of alcohol and then I worry that he might start abusing alcohol.

The final thing is that my perception of alcohol is messed up myself. I don't drink really at all, and I don't like being around people who drink. My partner seems to be able to not drink at all, and then drink too much, and then not drink at all again.

I never quite know when she has had too much, and so when she says she's fine and I'm over-reacting, I wonder if she is right. But lately I too know the signs and I know when she's about to go over the edge. She doesn't really listen to me when I try to warn her not to have "another" because she knows that I am a non-drinker and don't really "get it."

Anyway, I just don't know how to help the situation with the kids, with me, and with her. Thank you for any insight. Answer

On the face of it, someone who only gets drunk once a month shouldn't be too much of a problem. But with your partner, clearly it is because of the way she behaves when she does, and the effect it's having especially on your kids.

That's the thing, alcohol problems come in all shapes and forms. From full-blown alcoholics, to functional one's, to those that just abuse alcohol occasionally. But as soon as alcohol, irrespective of how often or how much a person drinks, starts creating negative/unhealthy consequences, there is a problem and that needs to be addressed.

And what's making it even worse in your case, is the damaging consequences your partner's drinking is having on your children. So you do really need to have a serious conversation with her and point out to her exactly how it is effecting your children - because if she really sees the damaging consequences her drinking is having on them, she might become more determined to do something about it.

Saying nothing or not speaking honestly for fear of upsetting her is the worst thing you can do. A problem like this has to be confronted head on and with absolute ... even brutal honesty if necessary. Otherwise her problem will simply continue unabated and quite possibly get worse with time.

Hopefully that will do the trick. Change can only happen once she acknowledges there is a problem - and hopefully by making it clear how her drinking is effecting the kids - she'll come to realise her drinking isn't as harmless as she thinks. Good Luck and Take Care.

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