Monday, March 28, 2011

A Note to My Readers

As some of you may know, I began writing this blog over three and a half years ago. For the first two years, I wrote a weekly essay on a relationship issue that was either prompted by something in the news (a politician's career ruined by an affair, a celebrity divorce, etc.), or by a quote from a famous writer (hence the "Quote & Comment" title of the blog).

In August of 2009, I changed the format of the blog to a "Dear Jim"-style advice column. I had been getting relationship questions from readers and answering them privately, but I felt that some of the questions were interesting enough, and important enough, to share with the rest of my readers. Since then, I've posted over eighty "Dear Jim" Q&A's, which have in turn prompted even more reader questions.

Just recently, I've been fortunate to find a larger readership for "Dear Jim." It will be appearing twice a month on (the most widely-read website targeted to the Baby Boomer generation), and once a week in two Arizona newspapers: the Green Valley News and the Sahuarita Sun. Rather than posting the same Q&A columns that will appear on Boomer-Living or in the newspapers, I'll be switching back next week to my original blog format, offering what I hope is a unique and entertaining perspective on men-women relationships. You can, of course, still write to me ( with your relationship questions. As always, I thank you for your friendship and support.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Recovering-Alcoholic Husband is Unhappy with Social-Drinker Wife

(NOTE: Jim's blog is now devoted to answering relationship questions submitted by readers. Please send any questions you may have to

DEAR JIM: Long story short: my husband finally stopped drinking after fifteen horrible years for both of us, and is very active in AA (he goes three times a week). The problem is, I'm a moderate drinker and enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, but my husband says he can't be around anyone who's drinking, for fear that he'll relapse. So basically he's forbidden me to have any wine in the house or to order any if we go out. I don't want to go back to the "bad days" of our marriage, but it seems unfair that I have to give up something that I like just because he has a problem with it. The irony is that I've become sort of a closet drinker; I've stopped off a couple of times at a bar on the way home from work just to enjoy a glass of wine without being hassled. What should I do? ("J")

DEAR "J": First of all, let me say that it's great that your husband cared enough to get the help he needed. Untreated alcoholism can be as fatal to a marriage as affairs and verbal abuse; maybe even more so.

Having said that, though, I think your husband is demanding an awful lot of you. As you say, he want you to change because he has a problem. It's not as if you're one of his old drinking buddies urging him to have a beer or two with them. You're a moderate and seemingly-responsible drinker who wants him to stay sober but also wants to continue enjoying something that gives you pleasure. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with that.

I'm not an expert on alcoholism, but it seems to me that your husband is going overboard in trying to avoid situations where people are drinking in his presence. Does he feel he couldn't go to a baseball game if a guy in the row in front of him is drinking beer? Does he feel he couldn't go to a restaurant with a liquor license, for fear that he might see people enjoying a martini? Does he feel he couldn't go to a family wedding because there might be a champagne toast? If so, he's going to have to live in a very small, isolated world, and you're going to have to live there with him---and probably not too happily.

I think you should get involved with Al-Alon, the support group for spouses, children, and other family members of alcoholics. You're bound to meet people there who have dealt with issues similar to yours, and get some practical tips in how to encourage your husband to be less fearful and more reasonable. You and your husband may also want to have a consultation together with a professional alcoholism counselor; he or she may have the kind of credibility that your husband will respond to.

The good thing, "J", is that your husband seems determined never to relapse. My guess is that at some point---with professional help and with your input and support---he'll be more confident of his ability to stay sober without subjecting you to arbitrary and unfair rules. Good luck, and please let me know how it turns out.