How to go sober if your partner still drinks

Affleck has been honest about his struggles with alcoholism (Alamy/PA)
Affleck has been honest about his struggles with alcoholism (Alamy/PA)

Jennifer Lopez has come under fire for launching and promoting her new alcohol brand, due to her husband Ben Affleck’s problems with alcoholism.

The 53-year-old Let’s Get Loud singer, who had previously told InStyle that she abstains from caffeine and alcohol, took to Instagram following the announcement of her new liquor brand Delola, saying she enjoyed the “occasional cocktail” but did not drink to excess.

Fans had been quick to criticise her, posting comments like, ‘Why not respect your husband’s sobriety?’

Her husband Ben Affleck, 50, has been candid about his struggles with alcoholism.

In a 2020 New York Times interview, he shared: “It took me a long time to fundamentally, deeply, without a hint of doubt, admit to myself that I am an alcoholic… The next drink will not be different.”

Affleck is sober, but seemingly, Lopez is not.

“Going sober can be really difficult, especially if your partner drinks. There may be aspects of your drinking which they enjoy, so it’s quite common for people close to you, to say things which make it harder to go sober,” says Dr David McLaughlan, a visiting consultant psychiatrist for the Priory.

So, how can you do it if your partner isn’t so keen?

Consider what you will gain

“Going sober might mean less drunken fallouts or arguments about incidents which occurred under the influence of alcohol. Avoiding hangovers also gives you back a lot more quality time together and more free cash to spend on things that matter to you,” says McLaughlan.

If more sex and higher fertility are important to you, quitting the booze may help, perhaps helping to garner support from your partner too.

“You might also notice increased libido and erectile function when you quit drinking. Even small amounts of alcohol reduce your fertility, so giving up will also increase your chances of falling pregnant together,” he explains.

Find the right time to discuss it

It may be a sensitive topic to dive into.

“It is important when you go sober, that you find a time when your partner is calm, collected and willing to discuss a big change in your relationship,” says Phil Jackman, an addiction therapist at private rehab clinic Delamere.

“Attempting to speak to them when they are stressed or busy may lead to unnecessary conflict.

“Once you’ve found the right time, be honest with your partner and let them know the reasons you are giving up alcohol, and how this might impact your relationship. Hopefully, they will be supportive of your decision, but there might need to be a few things you need to work through first.

“If you are with a partner that still likes a drink, try asking them if they can remove any alcohol from the house, or from a place you have access to it, so you aren’t tempted to give up on your sobriety,” he says.

Don’t make unfair demands of them

“Though it is fair to ask your partner to stop drinking and support you in sobriety, it is important that this is not a strict expectation of them. Assuming someone will automatically change their lifestyle just to suit yours may cause unnecessary conflict,” Jackman says.

“Instead, when you make the decision to go sober, it’s important that you sit and talk through the reasons why you want to give up drinking, so they fully understand your decision. You may find they want to improve their own personal relationship with alcohol. However, it’s important to note, not everyone will be willing to do so. ”

Seek out authenticity

One of you quitting drinking could break a dangerous cycle.

“If you and your partner regularly drink, more than just socialising with friends or during an occasion, your relationship could develop with a co-dependency to alcohol, where you are drinking to maintain the relationship,” says Dr Stefan Walters, Caba’s addiction specialist.

“As humans, we can be highly influenced by peer pressure and the people around us. So, if we are socialising with those who drink heavily, we may feel a judgement for being sober, or that we are not joining in on the fun,” he explains.

Pushing past that dependency will help you be authentic with your partner.

“When you are sober, your personality is authentic, and you will feel emotionally present throughout conversations and experiences with your partner,” Walters adds.

Find new things to do together

If one of you does not drink, you may have to think outside the box about things you can do together.

“If you are still feeling this way about the activities or hobbies after some time, I’d recommend speaking openly with your partner about adjusting or changing them,” says Walters.

“Generally, you may feel that you’d rather take up healthier hobbies, like physical pursuits or mentally stimulating activities, instead of those centred around drinking, like quizzes or socialising at the pub.

“So, it’s not necessarily about how to enjoy the same things, but working out how to spend time together through new activities that you both enjoy and receive emotional fulfilment from,” he explains.

Going sober could help you find something new you love to do together.