Ask Amy: Girlfriend’s drinking interferes with relationship

July 11, 2012

DEAR AMY: I have been dating my girlfriend for six years, and for the most part, our relationship is great. We have the same sense of humor, values and ideas about raising children. We have fun together but can also talk seriously. I want to be with her for the rest of my life.

The one problem I have is her drinking. She’s not a raging alcoholic, but every night she has two to four glasses of wine. When we go out, she will drink a whole bottle herself, and when she drinks, she either talks nonstop or gets kind of mean.

I don’t really drink, so I’m aware of her mood swings, and our biggest fights have stemmed from her drinking. What should I do about this situation? -- Worried

DEAR WORRIED: Get yourself to an Al-Anon meeting (al-anon.alateen.org).

Al-Anon is a fellowship of people whose lives have been affected by a loved one’s drinking.

What you will learn there is a form of surrender that is both humbling and empowering: You have no control over your girlfriend’s drinking.

If you have asked her to seek help for her drinking and she has refused, then the choice you have to wrestle with is your own. Are you willing (and able) to be with someone who — for now, anyway — puts the bottle first?

Are you able to accept and stay with someone who treats you badly when she’s drinking (and it sounds as if she is usually drinking)?

You should make an honest and no-holds-barred inventory of the effect your partner’s drinking is having on your life.

Your girlfriend can be the most wonderful, smart, funny and ethical person in the world — and she is also a loud and mean drunk. Life with both of these people is the reality you need to contemplate.

DEAR AMY: I am 52 and in my second marriage. We met in church and thought we were evenly yoked. This is her first marriage (she is 43).

I have two children, 10 and 15, who are well-mannered and a joy to be around. Even though I saw signs that she was not into my children, I thought this would change.

It’s been two years now, and she doesn’t talk to them (they’re with us every other week). She makes no attempt to have a relationship. She never even mentions their names. It’s as if they don’t even exist!

I feel that if you marry someone with children, you marry the package. I haven’t asked her to help raise the children; their mother does a good job at that, and we are a united front there.

She purchased a new vehicle and doesn’t allow me to drive it. We put down equal money on a house, but it is in her name alone.

We took a premarital course, and all the cards were laid on the table. If I had known she was like this, I would never have married her. I have already told her I plan to leave if this behavior does not change and already have begun to look for a place to stay. Am I wrong for feeling this way? She won’t go to counseling. -- Sad Dad

DEAR SAD: Your marriage is no yoke.

You are not wrong for needing your wife to share your life. Of course this includes acknowledging and forming a relationship with your children. This is what it means to be in a family.

You should seek counseling on your own — and call a lawyer. If you are ever tempted to partner up again, don’t count on someone to change her attitude about something as basic as your children.

DEAR AMY: This is in response to “Disgruntled Grandpa.” Grandpa wanted to dump his grandson because the young man was ungrateful and disrespectful.

The following is a quote from a poem that I’ve used to guide me for more than 55 years.

“He drew a circle that shut me out —

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But Love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in!”

By Edwin Markham (1852-1940) -- Contented Grandma

DEAR GRANDMA: Looks as if this issue is a perennial one. Thank you for the wisdom.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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