Living With a Drinker
This past weekend, I was asked by a few different people if I’d written anything yet about what it is like living with a drinker as a dry person. My honest answer was “nope” as it wasn’t something that I saw as a topic. However, when I broke that thought down further, I realized it's because my spouse and I are aligned when it comes to my dry year. For quick context, I started my dry year in October 2021, and my spouse did not. There was no expectation that they would go dry with me, as this was my decision based on my personal curiosity and a need to create some space for growth. However, having two people in the same household with different lifestyle choices makes for an interesting mix, so let’s dish out how to handle a mixed drinking household.
State Your Why: Once I’d decided that a dry year was the right decision for me, I set time aside to talk to my spouse about why I decided to make the change. I needed to make it clear that this was my chosen path, and that I’d explored other options prior to landing on the decision to go dry. I also needed to make my ‘why’ clear to make sure we both understood its importance. For me, my dry year was about creating space for personal growth. I’d gone dry before, I’d seen great things come of it, and I was hungry for more. This created space for a conversation about ‘it's not you, it's me’ and any other issues that can arise when one part of the half makes a big decision. Stating the ‘why’ was critical as I needed to make it clear that I was taking it seriously, and that I would need their support to make it happen.
Set Your Timeline: My first step was to set my ‘dry start date’ and to reiterate it as often as needed. I had to make it clear to my partner and my community that I was taking it seriously and that I needed support to make it happen. That meant my spouse was also able to set a timeline for their own prep. As a team, we did our best to eliminate possible triggers, we told our friends on repeat that I was going dry on X date, we made lots of plans that didn’t have to involve drinking, and we expanded our NA (non-alcoholic) home bar. This set dry-date allows space to just BE booze free, versus making it a constant topic within our marriage. I’m doing a dry year, so we know as a team that we have 365 days to work together, and after that, who knows! A dry year allows for enough time to see personal change, and to pass it along through my partnership.
No Pressure: I feel the need to talk about my dry year. I mean, I am writing a blog about it, so there’s your proof. I enjoy talking about its impact, why I started it, and what I plan to do within my dry year. However, I also recognize that talking all about being dry can be ostracizing for those who aren’t, especially my spouse. Nobody should fear the question ‘So, are you still drinking?’ any more than I should fear ‘So, will you drink again?’. In order to avoid my dryness being THE topic, I simply need to acknowledge its ability to dominate a conversation. So, as much as I love talking about going dry, it's not my identity and it sure isn’t my partner’s.
I recognize that going dry looks different for everyone. My dry year is as unique as anything about me, and my marriage is as well. So, when I think back to why I hadn’t thought to write about this topic before, I think the answer is simple: It’s not a matter of living with a drinker as a dry person, it’s about acknowledging how to best introduce change into a partnership of any type.