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The Alcohol Explanation

When you Assume Love and ask how a truly loving husband, wife, or life partner could say those words, spend that money, or get that violent, beware of the alcohol explanation.

Many people are quicker to anger and less diplomatic in their ways of expressing it when they drink. Most, however, cannot violate their own moral code even when drunk.

If they would protect your college fund or your retirement fund from a thief while sober, most won't take it themselves when they are drunk.

If they would defend you from a stranger who hit you, threw you on the bed, or even raised a hand to threaten you while sober, most will not hit you, throw you on the bed, or raise a hand to you while drunk.

They might use harsher words. They might get angry over different things. They might be louder and more demanding. But they won't violate their own morality, their deep knowledge of what is right and wrong, their human urge to protect loved ones from harm.

For those who do, the explanation is not alcohol. The explanation is a loss of control over the connection between their intentions and their behavior when they drink.

If they have no control, no ability to act in accordance with their intentions when they drink, they cannot protect you or your relationship. When they are sober, they may express their intentions to treat you better, but this is not within their control when they drink. You might forgive them because they have such a good heart most of the time, but their behavior while drinking is not affected by their good intentions.

You and your relationship are no safer when they drink than you are standing in the middle of the road counting on that stranger driving the tractor trailer to see you and apply the brakes in time despite the pea soup fog between you. You are the only one who is going to stop this carnage. And you're not going to do it by bravely sticking one arm out like you're Superman. You must get yourself out of the road.

If the only explanation you come up with when you Assume Love is that, while drinking, your spouse cannot control his or her actions, cannot act in accord with his or her good intentions or moral code, your only loving act is to get yourself out of the road.

The only fix for a loss of control while drinking is to stop drinking or to learn new skills for managing oneself while drinking. And the latter only works for those not yet addicted, those who can drink a little and stop themselves from drinking more when they reach the point where they must depend on their broken autopilot.

Choosing either of these takes a lot of motivation and a good bit of courage. Getting yourself out of the road (leaving the house at the first drink or living separately until you see a real change) helps your mate find that courage. It also takes courage to do, so be sure to turn to the rest of your support network, so you can do it sooner rather than later.

Alcohol can explain a change in language, volume, or modesty. If you Assume Love and come to this explanation, ask for what you need when your mate is sober.

But if the real explanation is that your spouse's behavior is not under the control of his or her good intentions, insist that your spouse re-establish this control, and stay out of the road until it happens. If you have a kind bone in your body, don't let your spouse be that truck driver who cannot stop the truck in time to spare a loved one.


Great post Patty. And the distinction between Modus Operandi and chemical influence is very needed in the one-size-fits -all method of recovery.

Great explanation Patty, in how alcohol can damage even kill a relationship. It is very similar to standing in the middle of the road waiting for a truck to hit you.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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