Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I have a secret. I don’t want to have a secret but my husband, although a completely reasonable man in all other respects, is adamant in his stance towards alcohol- he is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in 14 years, and to him, alcohol is an evil that nearly destroyed his life. He is tolerant of people in social situations because he doesn’t think he has a right to impose his beliefs on them. But as far as I go- I am a reflection of who he is and if I drink, this is a reflection on him and a violation of his deepest creed.
So I am a secret drinker. When I say secret drinker, I don’t mean that I have bottles hidden around the house. In fact, I never drink at home. I consider drinking to be an occasional social pleasure, to be moderately indulged in with the company of other responsible adults who are relaxing and enjoying life. If I go to a friend’s birthday party, I see nothing wrong with toasting her along with everyone else. If I have dinner with my mom and we both have a glass of wine, I’m not careening down the road to ruin.
But my husband has zero tolerance, so I hide it from him. And I have to keep everyone I know in on the secret.
Drinking has never been a part of our life together, so I don’t miss it at home. But it puts me in a position where I have to keep up a front, make sure no pictures are ever posted of me at parties, etc, etc… I have tried talking about the issue with my husband and he says he sees my point, but he just couldn’t live with it and he knows that.
Literally everything else is fine in my marriage. We share thoughts, household chores…our sex life is fine. This secret is like a little pebble in my shoe that is an annoying constant presence.
got any ideas?
Overall this is a moot point- as unimportant as alcohol is to you, you could just as easily have a soda with your friends. This is really not about alcohol but about control.
To gain back a feeling of equality in this matter, understand that the human brain is so good at denial that if you tell him the truth in a diplomatic way, he most likely will just ignore your forays. Just tell him. “I know we disagree about social alcohol and I agree never to have any at home or to keep it at home out of respect for you but I don’t want to lie to you. Occasionally I have a drink while out with my friends. It is my right and we can agree to disagree on this point. I will not bring it up again and I would appreciate you not to be a bully about this.”
He is not going to leave you over this and if he did it would be indicative of a much larger problem and in that case, good riddance. One couple I know did indeed divorce after the husband turned born again and adopted an intractable morality and nothing the wife did was righteous enough for God (or his liking.) Absolutism often doesn’t differ much from narcissism, but I don’t sense this in your husband’s case.
Don’t keep up a front, just be yourself- but I don’t recommend flaunting it.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: If this issue is about control, it’s about the control Betty’s husband is exerting. Her desire to have an occasional social drink as an adult is completely normal and healthy and soda is hardly as relaxing or convivial as a glass of wine. Soda is also not good for your bones, if you want to pick nits- it leeches calcium.
Here’s the real problem I see- every lie builds a wall between partners. It’s not a healthy practice for anyone in a relationship, especially when it concerns an important issue. One nearly always ends up getting found out- and then the lie is as big, or a bigger, betrayal than the act itself.
Dr. Brilliant’s idea is great for getting the truth out…IF your husband reads his lines as planned in the script you’ve prepared. However, people tend to be annoyingly uncooperative in real life. You may have to do more than count on his being in a coma of denial. You may have to explain yourself and it may get messy.
Here’s what I recommend. First, give Dr. Brilliant’s suggestion a try. But in case your husband starts asking questions, have another speech prepared: “Honey, I love you with all my heart, but you are one half of this relationship, not the dictator of a small country. I’d like to have a respected third party mediator called in so that we can get a better balance into this marriage.”
If this backfires, then Dr. Brilliant is right- there’s a bigger problem here than drinking, and it may not be solvable.