Inside His Head: Husband drinking too much?


My husband has started drinking two or three beers every day after work. It’s really starting to bother me. He drinks even more on the weekends. I think it has to do with work pressures, but I think I should talk to him about drinking too much. Obviously this is a really touchy subject. Do you have any advice on how to handle this one?

GRAY: I think the only appropriate course of action is to give him more of a beer allowance. While two or three beers a day is better than none, a half case a day is closer to what he probably deserves.

OK, seriously, if you think he’s drinking to get his mind off of other things, the last thing he wants to hear is you jumping on his back and adding to his worries. Making him feel unwelcome or unwanted in his own house might turn two to three beers at home into more than that at a bar where he doesn’t have to listen to anyone.

I’d figure out what’s at the heart of the matter. Is it his job? Is it finances? Is it some other kind of pressure? Talk to him and let him know that you care and want to help him fix it. Tell him you’ll scan the classifieds for new jobs or whatever it is you can to start the ball rolling in the right direction.

Act quickly. If drinking or any other kind of behavior intended to help him cope with circumstances out of his control go on for a protracted time it can make him feel like nobody cares or understands. The sooner you acknowledge changes in him, the easier it’ll be to turn things around. Don’t let habits set in because then you may have another set of issues to deal with.

Try not to criticize. Though “Another beer isn’t going to help you find a new job,” may be what you want to say, it’s neither something he doesn’t know nor what he wants to hear from you. Be encouraging and supportive. Get his mind focused on job hunting and how the two of you are going to do it and you may find that beer is suddenly the last thing he thinks about.

Well, let’s face it, beer will never be the last thing he thinks about, but hopefully it’ll find a more appropriate priority in his life.

MAVERICK: If your husband’s drinking has picked up significantly, and it’s become nearly a daily thing, I would be concerned. While a few beers in an evening is nothing to be worried about, I think a few beers every evening without fail, and an uptick in intake over the weekend shows signs of self-medicating.

I wouldn’t suggest your husband has a drinking problem but if his drinking has picked up this much I’d say he’s bugged about something. Turn on your ears and listen to what he’s saying and turn on your eyes and watch what he’s doing.

He could be bored at work, need an outlet for his energy, or otherwise be in a fairly deep rut. Listen to what he talks and complains about. See if he’s still interested in things he used to love. If he’s stopped doing much of anything, the drinking could be just a symptom of a general funk.

I wouldn’t mention the drinking right away — that would be counter-productive.

Instead of harping on the drinking, I’d simply ask if something is bugging him. If he doesn’t want to talk don’t pry but try to circle back to the subject if the opportunity arises. If he does want to talk, listen and do your best to help.

In any event, I’d try to lift his spirits. And I don’t mean a one-time thing, like giving him a kitchen pass to go to the movies with his pals or catch a ball game.

I know in today’s society it’s considered taboo to put someone else’s feeling above our own, even our spouses,  but I suggest you go on a dedicated campaign to make him enjoy his life again. Insist, regularly, that he go out and play a round of golf, or fish, or make time and surprise him with a date night. The kind of date guys like with steak, an action movie, and a dolled-up wife and lots of affection.

I suspect as his outlook on life improves the drinking will taper off or stop altogether.

If it continues or increases, I’d really start to look at other deeper causes, like a full-blown depression.

MAX: “Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.” ~Henry Lawson

I don’t drink alcohol at all but I happily watch my wife drink two glasses of wine every night after putting the children to bed. It’s her relaxation ritual of motherhood.

My question to you, then, would be why is his beer drinking, which doesn’t seem even close to being extreme, bother you so? If alcohol is a personal hang-up for you, such as a family history of alcoholism, then I’m sympathetic to your concerns but those are unrelated to your husband knocking back a few after work.

Drinking a few beers, in and of itself, does not mean he has a problem. You shouldn’t be overly concerned unless he is showing signs of being a problem drinker: changes in personality, trying to hide his drinking, neglecting his family responsibilities.

I will assume he’s not talking about winning, duh or being a warlock or having tiger blood.

If his drinking is merely a way he relieves stress after a long day at a trying job, a better tact may be to think of some ways to help him in this area. Showing support and appreciation for him may remove some of his need to crack open a cold one.

Better yet, the next time he comes home from work bring him a beer and frosty mug from the freezer and give him a kiss on the forehead.