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Is the Problem our Marriage or our Drinking?

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

New relationships are full of love, connection and intimacy. They can also be full of dinners out, parties, events, or even a shared bottle of wine.

However, as relationships progress, alcohol consumption can cause issues in a marriage.

If you and your partner drink often, and you’re wondering whether alcohol is causing issues in your relationship, here are some questions to explore:

  1. Do I feel my connection to my partner has become more distant?

  2. Am I becoming more reactive with my partner?

  3. Am I arguing and often frustrated with my partner?

  4. Am I resenting my partner more?

  5. Am I emotionally or physically avoiding my partner?

  6. When we argue, is alcohol involved?

  7. Is alcohol a key part of how we try to connect in our relationship?

  8. Am I or my partner drinking more frequently?

Ruari Fairbairns, the founder of One Year No Beer (OYNB) believed that he could prove to his wife that alcohol was not actually the problem in their marriage and instead, it was their marriage that was struggling.

“I actually dropped alcohol to demonstrate to my wife that it wasn’t the problem in our relationship. I was convinced the problem lay in other areas. I was wrong; booze wasn’t the entire problem, but it was clearly a big contender. It muddies the water so much that the real reason is practically irrelevant while you are drinking. My advice to anyone having relationships struggles is, forget the expensive marriage counselling for now….and first drop the booze” 

One trend I notice is that social drinking interrupts our ability to be fully present, intentional and fully aware in relationships.

Many couples have come to me over time with challenges and difficulties in their relationships. They find themselves in conflict, lacking the type of connection they would like and at times saying things and doing things they regret. I will explore when these situations occur and what I have found is social drinking during times of connection can have negative implication in how people actually connect.

It causes inhibitions to be altered leading to many different challenges such as disagreement, heightened visceral reactions, over-sensitivity, less empathy, conflicts and ultimately, disconnection. 

Building healthy habits that increase deeper connection is the path to better relationships. Looking to increase your connection? Try healthy shared activities such as yoga, working out, going for walks, sharing a dinner or a picnic, or creating time to intimately connect in quiet conversation. Take yourselves out of autopilot and be fully present.

Frequent social drinking can negatively impact your sleep and mood. This can lead to irritability, patience, less empathy and understanding, increased reactive behaviours, lower energy, less motivation, poor concentration, less productive, less inhibitions, weight and eating issues. Many of these factors impact how we connect to our significant others.

If you’re considering improving your relationship, explore the influence of alcohol on your connection. If you find alcohol is having a negative effect, try replacing it with positive, healthy habits, and you’ll see positive improvements in your marriage.

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