Author Topic: Need some advice... My husband is drinking a lot, claims it's his culture.  (Read 4450 times)

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Offline Edinburgh83

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I'm in need of advice and I also just want to vent my frustrations. My husband is Scottish, I'm American, and lately he's been drinking what I consider excessive amounts of alcohol, but he claims it's his culture and I'm just being controlling and a nag.

We met in college, so we were drinking a lot then as college students do, but once I finished college the excessive drinking stopped. I feel like that's normal for most college students. I'm not opposed to alcohol, but I can't drink like I used to and I'd rather not be hungover. I don't want him to not drink, but I'd like him to see that what he's doing to himself is going to put him in an early grave. He drinks, smokes, is overweight (has put on 25lb since we were married in 2008) and doesn't get ANY exercise. As his wife, I love him and would like to be with him into old age, but he doesn't see me asking him to stop smoking, cut back on the drinking and go on walks with me as me CARING about his health. He sees it as me being controlling.

He's in oil and used to work a job where he was gone for anywhere from a few days to three weeks and was home anywhere from a few days to two weeks. It ended up that he was gone about half the year. So, when he was gone he wasn't drinking and when he was home, he was drinking, but not too excessively. He probably had 5-6 beers every other day - nothing compared to what he drinks now.

We've moved and he's now in an office based job, so he's home all the time. On a week night, he'll go out with his friend (not a good influence - before we got here, he was sitting in a bar drinking 10+ beers alone on a typical night, lying to his girlfriend who just had his child telling her he has to meet with clients) and he'll say "I'm going out for a FEW beers and will be home in an hour or two" and ends up staying out for 4-5 hours and drinking 10-15 beers. That's not normal for an adult who has a full-time job and is out for drinks with friends on a week night, in my opinion. That's normal for a frat boy, who is binge drinking. If I didn't stop him, he'd be doing this on week nights 3+ times per week, because his friend asks him to come out, but I tell him no and end up having to nag him to stay home. He does this every single week, one or two times. When he does stay home, he'll easily have 6-8 beers on a week night. On the weekend, we usually go out for dinner and drinks and I'll have 2-3 drinks, sometimes a couple more, and he'll have around 10. He never has a day off, although I don't think he has a dependency on alcohol. I think he just likes it.

I'd like him to actually spend time with me, but he'd rather go sit in a bar with his friend, who he works with and has seen all day. He invites me, but why would I want to go sit with his chauvinist, jerk friend who abandons his girlfriend and new baby on a regular basis so he can get drunk? I also think if you're going out for after work drinks, you should go to a nice bar and be social with a couple of drinks. I have no issue with doing that. However, they go to a seedy, gross bar and sit by themselves, downing as many bars as possible. Can you see why that isn't something I'd want to do?

I hate nagging him, but what can I do? I complain that he's spending an insane amount of money on beer, but he claims he makes plenty of money (although we have no savings). I complain that the drinking and smoking is going to kill him and he claims I'm being selfish and telling him what to do, although I just don't want to be a widow when I'm 50. If not wanting to be a widow is selfish, then I'm selfish. Beers here are expensive, so when he goes out for 15 beers, that's over $100, so hundreds of dollars each month is going towards nothing but beer.

He keeps saying it's his culture, but his dad is what I would consider a regular drinker, and he doesn't drink even close to the same amount. He'll have 5-6 pints on a typical weekend night and maybe 10 pints throughout the week. So, that's 15 or so beers in a week, when my husband easily goes through 50.

I just can't understand why someone would want to sit around inside and drink that much, when we're in such a beautiful place (just moved to Canada from the UK) where there's beautiful hikes and scenery everywhere. I get out and spend a good 2-3 hours everyday hiking, and in the past four months, he's been on two walks with me, excluding his pathetic 1/4 mile "treks" to the bars. 

I'm at a loss. I've thought about leaving, but I love him and would be lost without him. I'm also not in a place where I could just pack a bag and go to stay with my parents. I'd have to buy a $1,000 plane ticket to do that. He needs to change, but obviously what I've been doing isn't working and it's only made things worse. What can I do?

Offline LaraMascara

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Edinburgh83, maybe is he an alcoholic... ?

You can talk to people at Al-Anon.

They will help you with more information.

http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/about

“It was when I realised I had a new nationality: I was in exile. I am an adulterous resident: when I am in one city, I am dreaming of the other. I am an exile; citizen of the country of longing.” ― Suketu Mehta.

Married 04/13/11, in NYC.
Applied for Spouse Visa the following week, with express service, and I was approved 4 days later!
Arrived in the UK 05/20/11.
I took the stupid LIUK Test Oct. 2012.
We were granted ILR In Person in Croydon on 04/23/13.
Got BRP 2 days later, in mail box - it just appeared.

NEXT: The lil' red passpo

Offline hatsumomo

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I think alcohol is quite a personal thing, what is seen as excessive for some may not be for others.  However, it does sound like what your husband is having is very excessive.  LaraMascara's advice is good.  Speak to AA anonymously and see what they have to say.  At the end of the day it's not fair if he is calling you a nag and controlling when it is affecting both of your lives and happiness.

Offline Sara Smile

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Ugh, I just lost a huge post.  I will be more brief than before.

I think alcohol is quite a personal thing, what is seen as excessive for some may not be for others.

This.  I know many people who act just like your DH and I wouldn't think any of them have drinking problems.  While I appreciate that loads of Brits don't drink, I do think a lot of what is discribed here is cultural.

It seems that the problem isn't necessarily his drinking but that you have different ideas on how to spend your time and you have different ideas about him.  In reading your post, it seemed that your real problems were:

-You don't like his mates.
-You don't like him spending time with his mates.
-You don't like how he spends money.
-You have different ideas on how you should spend leisure time.
-You thought behaviors he already had were "uni" behaviors.
-You have some strong thoughts on drinking being for frat boys and not something adults do.
-You assumed your husband would have the same thoughts on getting older as you did.

Most of my friends/colleagues go to the bar every night (or nearly).  This is how they socialise.  Most of the people I know would dread going on hours long hikes.  Many of the people I know blow their extra money on going out and drinking.  Many of the people I know haven't taken different/better care of themselves just because they have gotten older.  If you told them that "needed to change" they would get pretty irritated too.

To some extent you may want to reframe your thinking and recognise that some people do the same thing as your husband.  Your real problem is that your DH and you aren't on the same page about how to spend your time or money.  The drinking is really secondary.  If you continue to focus on the drinking, I can see why your DH thinks you are just nagging and, if he did drink less, you would still have some underlying issues.  Personally, I would approach the other factors and the drinking will probably fall more in line.  

However, it does sound like what your husband is having is very excessive.  
That being said, I do think his drinking is excessive for my tastes (and clearly yours) but I think this is clouding the point.

Offline geeta

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50 beers a week sounds like a lot.  I am sure there is guidance provided by the NHS on what consumption should raise concern...if I find it, I will post.

Offline ksand24

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50 beers a week sounds like a lot.  I am sure there is guidance provided by the NHS on what consumption should raise concern...if I find it, I will post.

The guidance is that men should drink no more than 3-4 units per day (21-28 units per week) and women no more than 2-3 units per day (14-21 per week).

The average low-alcohol (4%) pint of beer contains 2 units... so going by the guidance that should be no more than 14 beers per week.

Interesting fact: did you know that 7 pints of beer have about the same alcohol content as 2 bottles of wine or 1 bottle of whisky... so drinking 50 beers per week is the equivalent of consuming 14 bottles of wine or 7 bottles of neat whisky per week!

Offline geeta

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I think you know that there is a problem here.  Can you talk to someone about it - a friend who is not one of the ones he drinks with, a mentor, a relative?

Offline bookgrl

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Cultural or not 50 a week is an alcoholic and if you don't think your friends have issues while drinking 50 a week that is because you don't live with them and don't have to see the fall out that occurs behind closed doors.  I'm not saying they can't "handle" the alcohol; they probably can.

It is affecting his life.  Is he able to talk about it at any time?  Not when he is ready to go out the door, although it seems like he is almost always ready to go, but on a weekend when things are calm?  You don't want to start a fight, find out if he will speak with you.  Make a list of your points health, money whatever try to remain calm and really discuss things when neither of you are upset.

Even if you do talk about it with him, you might want to talk about it with someone else to get things straight in your head.


Offline LaraMascara

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I just want to be clear: I did not say he *IS* an alcoholic. I said, *MAYBE* he is an alcoholic. I don't know if he is or not - He may not even know.

Anyway, it does not matter. What matters is YOU, OP.

The situation is effecting YOU.

So, for you, I suggest talking to someone who might know more than I do, someone who has been through similar situations, and I suggest Al-Anon.

Al-Anon is free, and they have a local chapter close to you, and they will talk to you about all of your concerns! They will NOT tell you what to do. They will listen, they will be supportive, and they will tell you about things that worked for them, or did not work for them... They will even meet with you if you are unable to talk over the phone! They will come and pick you up! You can reach them by calling the number below.

Consider giving them a call. What have you got to lose? Right?!

This is from the Al-Anon website:

What is Al-Anon?

Someone else's drinking can affect your life - be it a relative or friend, male or female.

Someone else's uncontrolled, and uncontrollable, drinking can:

turn love to hate
bring you to the depths of despair
affect you financially
lead to violent outbursts
make you doubt your own sanity
make you think that you are the problem.
Whatever your relationship to the drinker, whatever your story, Al-Anon can help.

Al-Anon Family Groups hold regular meetings where members share  their own experience of living with alcoholism. Al-Anon does not offer advice or counselling, but members give each other understanding, strength and hope.

Helpline 020 7403 0888

xoxoxooxo,
L.
“It was when I realised I had a new nationality: I was in exile. I am an adulterous resident: when I am in one city, I am dreaming of the other. I am an exile; citizen of the country of longing.” ― Suketu Mehta.

Married 04/13/11, in NYC.
Applied for Spouse Visa the following week, with express service, and I was approved 4 days later!
Arrived in the UK 05/20/11.
I took the stupid LIUK Test Oct. 2012.
We were granted ILR In Person in Croydon on 04/23/13.
Got BRP 2 days later, in mail box - it just appeared.

NEXT: The lil' red passpo

Offline Albatross

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Helpline 020 7403 0888

I think the OP said they live in Canada, so she'll need to find a more local number.  Should be easy enough to find, though!

Offline LaraMascara

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http://www.al-anon.org/meetings/meeting.html

You can find Al-Anon info for the US and Canada at the above link.
“It was when I realised I had a new nationality: I was in exile. I am an adulterous resident: when I am in one city, I am dreaming of the other. I am an exile; citizen of the country of longing.” ― Suketu Mehta.

Married 04/13/11, in NYC.
Applied for Spouse Visa the following week, with express service, and I was approved 4 days later!
Arrived in the UK 05/20/11.
I took the stupid LIUK Test Oct. 2012.
We were granted ILR In Person in Croydon on 04/23/13.
Got BRP 2 days later, in mail box - it just appeared.

NEXT: The lil' red passpo

Offline Edinburgh83

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Thank you everyone for your advice. I do need to accept that it may be alcoholism, and I'm going to speak to Al-Anon. I think it's difficult to see someone as an alcoholic when they're still managing to go to work everyday and don't seem to have a physical dependency on alcohol. When it affects me and I'm hurt by it, there's a problem. I just needed to hear other people tell me that it's excessive, because even in my own head, I was doubting it and wondering if I really was just a nag.

I've actually spoken with his parents as a last resort and they're going to talk to him about it, too. They agree it's too much and he really respects them and will listen. I could actually see him change his ways immediately when they tell him

It's hard to speak with friends about it, because they're in a completely different situation and don't understand what it's like to be married to a Scottish man, who claims it's his culture that makes him drink. I think he just uses that excuse because he knows it's too much and he's trying to condone it.

Offline LaraMascara

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It is a hard situation.

If is IS alcoholism, it is a disease.

It is not your fault. You did not cause it, and you cannot cure it.

You are not a nag. You love him and you feel concerned, and that is a good thing.

Talk to Al-Anon, because... They totally get it.

xoxoxoxooxo
“It was when I realised I had a new nationality: I was in exile. I am an adulterous resident: when I am in one city, I am dreaming of the other. I am an exile; citizen of the country of longing.” ― Suketu Mehta.

Married 04/13/11, in NYC.
Applied for Spouse Visa the following week, with express service, and I was approved 4 days later!
Arrived in the UK 05/20/11.
I took the stupid LIUK Test Oct. 2012.
We were granted ILR In Person in Croydon on 04/23/13.
Got BRP 2 days later, in mail box - it just appeared.

NEXT: The lil' red passpo

Offline NoseOverTail

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I'm so sorry you have to deal with this Edinburgh. It's such a tough situation, but I think Al Anon is a good step.

A functioning alcoholic is still an alcoholic. Just because people can handle themselves and drinks better than others might doesn't make it any less of a problem.

Yes, drinking is a personal thing and I don't have a problem with people drinking. I'm someone who enjoys alcohol and I usually have 1 beer on a weeknight and 4 or 5 drinks on a night out. Some people would say this is too much, some people would say I don't drink much at all. However...

This isn't meant to scare you and I'm not trying to be dramatic, but I do take slight issue with what Sara has said. It's just not on when relating to your situation. My best friend all the way back from when we were 14 lost her dad when we were 19 to complications related to alcoholism. He went to work everyday (he was a mailman), came home every night, never laid a hand on anyone, totally fine. But he drank between 2 and 5 bottles of wine a day. It was a lot of money down the drain when he had two kids approaching college, and a lot of life events that he missed as he was home passed out drunk on the couch. The worst is that it truly took a toll on his health and eventually his liver gave up on him and my friend and her younger brother lost their dad.

I guess my point in saying this is that, for some reason (and not that anyone here thinks this, it's a general statement) a lot of people think alcoholism is only really a problem when the alcoholic is violent or drives drunk or does something to physically endanger other people. But it's just not the case.

If it wasn't affecting anyone but himself, I would say that your husband can do what he likes, but that doesn't seem to be what is happening. It's affecting you and it's affecting both of your futures.

I truly wish you good luck with this, and I hope there can be some kind of solution.
"It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing and stretching one's arms again."

Offline Albatross

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It's hard to speak with friends about it, because they're in a completely different situation and don't understand what it's like to be married to a Scottish man, who claims it's his culture that makes him drink.

Alcohol *is* a huge part of the Scottish culture.  And your friends won't be able to understand that.    I myself drink about 12-15 pints a week, and my Scottish partner drinks around 25 pints a week... but we have no kids, no responsibilities other than making sure we are fit for work the following day.  

But 50 pints a week, with a wife sitting home on her own?  He is taking the piss and he can't blame that on his culture.

(edited to remove 'wife and child'... after re-reading, i now realise you don't have any children!  Sorry!)
« Last Edit: July 13, 2012, 10:40:16 PM by Tracey »