There’s nothing new about husband and wife disagreements. The truth is, a little conflict can be a very healthy thing for couples because it creates the opportunity to find agreement and move forward together. However, sometimes there is a conflict that seems like an impasse. A marriage stalemate can leave one or both parties feeling defeated and hopeless.
One of the issues I see fairly often is a disagreement over alcohol. I’d encourage all my readers to read my views on drinking in this previous post, entitled “Alcohol
The situation often looks something like this…
One or both parties enjoy a drink now and then.
As time goes by, one party starts drinking more and more.
The other person excuses it as an exception until the exceptions become the rule.
Finally the concerned spouse decides to voice the concern.
The confronted spouse is defensive and ensures that there is not a problem and continues drinking just the same.
Here are a few tips I’d like to offer couples facing this particular hurdle in married life.
1. Drinking may not be a sin, but it’s a good way to get there.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that drinking alcohol is technically not a sin. However, alcohol happens to be one of those things that can easily lead down a variety of sinful paths. We can all agree on that, right? That being said, alcohol consumption should always be monitored and never absent from good wisdom and accountability. When conflict arises regarding alcohol, people can react in many ways. One of those ways is to become increasingly secretive about the drinking. This is a very dangerous response. Likewise, defending your drinking based on it being “permissible” in the Bible is a weak argument. In scripture we are consistently encouraged to include other factors in our thinking as we consider each drink, such as, our reputation, our influence over others and the supremely important call to live by the law of love above all. Love is always willing sacrifices for the good of the relationship
2. Your spouse’s concern should be your concern.
Concern is built into the ethic of healthy marriages. I truly believe that couples should work hard to carry the concerns of their spouse as an act of marital loyalty. In this case, if your spouse has a concern regarding your drinking, it is a worthy reason to pause and give their perspective legitimate consideration. Healthy people learn to admit that they have blind spots. One of the blessings of marriage is the voice of a loving spouse to speak into your blind spots. It is often true that those who struggle with alcohol lathe the self-awareness to see how serious the problem is. The wise husband or wife will listen and validate the concerns of their spouse
3. Stop defending your drinking.
The bottom line is, alcohol is not worth fighting over. Believe it or not, but you can survive - the rest of your life if needed - without alcohol! Alcohol is not an essential part of a healthy diet. In fact, as a bit of a health-nut myself, I can tell you consuming large doses of alcohol is ALWAYS detrimental to health. When people defend their drinking it always feels like they are protecting something more than the freedom to have a casual drink. The desire to have a few beers with the guys at the game or to enjoy a glass of wine at dinner or a night cap before bed is certainly understandable; however, even those reasons to drink seem to pale in comparison to a concern raised by your spouse.
4. Your differences may have serious history to them.
If your spouse grew up in the home of an alcoholic parent or suffered in an abusive situation fueled by alcohol or perhaps fights the daily battle of staying sober their sensitivity to your drinking will be far greater. It is wise to discuss the reason behind your concerns. Seeking to understand is always a good place to start in marriage. If history is influencing your spouse's opposition to your drinking, your willingness to sacrifice your freedom to drink can go a long way to build trust. Make it your aim to contribute to an environment that promotes ongoing healing from a difficult past. In some cases, the reason for concern involves a potential relapse back into alcoholism or other substance abuse. In this case, please agree to talk with your sponsor or a trusted advisor within the recovery community.
5. Trust is EVERYTHING.
Never underestimate trust. At the core of a debate over alcohol is a lack of trust. Remember, trust is not a given and it cannot be demanded, it must be earned. You actions may be defendable. You may not have a problem with alcohol. And sure, you know all the Bible verses to support your actions. But remember your marriage is not a court of law, it is a relationship of love. When you favor the concerns of your spouse, even if they are wrong, you have little to lose (after all you don’t need alcohol) and you have tons to gain as trust grows. Your marriage should far outrank any and every drink.
Am I missing anything here? I hope this helps many of you navigate this very challenging issue. Please post your comments!