Kate's Blog

I Want To Quit But My Partner Still Drinks

“I want to quit drinking, but my partner won’t stop.”

“I don’t think I can do it alone.”
I know it can feel hard when you’re thinking about going alcohol-free, but your other half has no plans to change.
So how do you navigate this? There’s one big thing you need to remember, as I explain in this video:

Key points:

Having a partner who drinks doesn’t need to be a problem

If you’re adamant that you can’t quit unless your partner does, here’s what you need to know: about half the women I work with have husbands and wives who don’t want to stop. It’s not a big deal, provided you’re getting support elsewhere.
Remember this too: I work with plenty of women who are single, or who have the most supportive partners you could imagine – and yet those women have still found sobriety hard. Having zero temptation at home isn’t the secret to success.

Stop making your circumstances your problem

Here’s the hard truth: when you blame your life or your circumstances for your drinking, you’re always going to find a reason why this can’t happen for you. We’ve got to stop waiting to feel supported by others and start supporting ourselves first. 
The good news? When you take ownership of the fact that you’re 100% responsible for your drinking, it’s also very liberating, because it means that you don’t have to change anyone else in order to change you. Changing yourself is much easier than trying to change others! 

Remember: you are your own person

Take a moment to think about all the ways in which you are already different from your partner. There will be many areas of life in which their behaviour does not influence your beliefs, choices or habits. 
Letting go of alcohol can be just another one of those things where they make one choice and you make another. Your relationship is about so much more than the liquid you pour into your glass. 
For help and support to quit drinking, click here for details of my online class

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


39 responses

  1. Another insightful and thought-provoking video; thank you so much, Kate. Since I quit drinking, even though it’s early days, my husband and I have realised that he had been drinking way more than he otherwise would have been, simply because I kept buying booze! He now drinks only occasionally and most evenings we’re happily alcohol free together (and saving loads of money!)

    1. I’m on the course for april2022 and I’m so glad I watched this again this morning – I’m 10 days af and feeling great he’s still in bed at 10am and feels like death
      I feel every so slightly smug lol

  2. I live alone but socialise a lot with my son, his wife and their lovely friends. They party a lot and I am with them often and have always felt it was what stopped me from quitting alcohol. After watching your video today I have learned that I really don’t have to drink whist with them. I was dreading holidaying with my son and his wife in October as I know it will involve a lot of alcohol. I feel I will have the strength to enjoy my holiday without it. Wish me luck.

    1. I’m glad the video helped you see this a bit differently. I would also start making a list of all the ways in which staying alcohol free is going to help you have a brilliant holiday with them. Let’s put your brain to work on that, rather than worrying about what might go wrong 🙂

  3. Yes, Liz…”happily AF”. The alcohol free evenings appeared as if by magic at our place…. Magic was me….I wasn’t opening a bottle. Husband goes with the flow on this. Kate, love your notes.

  4. Thank you for posting this video. It hit right at home for me especially after a long holiday weekend with my husband. I especially liked the insight of not blaming your circumstances. This gives me strength.

      1. This was really informative and good to hear! I have to admit I do struggle with the change in dynamics now that I am not drinking while my husband still is, in the fact that BEFORE I was on the same “plane” as him, and now I’m observing him (and getting easily irritated) by his buzzed/tipsy state, how he is “out of it” and not really mentally present with me. I feel more lonely. Is this normal?

        1. It sounds like it’s time to have an open conversation with your husband about this – just to share what you’re experiencing right now. Feeling lonely does not have to be part of this journey.

          1. Such an important point in this journey. The problem is that because of their heaving drinking, they cannot have that rational conversation. Or you do have it and then as soon as they are loaded up it all goes out of the window. The only upside is that I can see my drinking behaviour reflect in what he is doing and that makes me see it clearly which is a really good thing to help my journey. I don’t see his drinking as reason for not to succeed but it is very difficult to cope with all the same.

        2. I have this exact problem. I am 18 months alcohol free and my husband still drinks. We used to drink a lot together. I know he feels uncomfortable now but still drinks. He won’t admit to having a problem. Doesn’t want to discuss but often tells me I’m no fun anymore and have lost my sense of humour (usually when he’s trying to make fun of me and I retaliate). It’s not good.

          1. Hi Catherine, when people react like this it’s important to remember it says nothing about us but everything about them. Keep going! You are doing this for you.

  5. Early days yet but we are both on this journey. However tonight was testing and he wanted a drink I said I wasn’t and if he wanted one he could. He chose not too.

  6. Wow! This video could not be more well-timed. My husband quit drinking shortly after I did to be supportive and lose weight. He has returned to moderate drinking and we are able to communicate about it and he is happy with my decision to be AF – I’ve been navigating socializing this summer and had a really rough few days. Kate’s comments about how it’s my choice to change and how I shouldn’t blame circumstances has really hit home with me – grateful for this course!!!

    1. Thanks Kate exactly what I needed to hear. 3 weeks in and I’ve met with some resistance from my fella but it’s not phased me and he’s staring to see the benefits as I don’t think I have ever felt this good. You are such a help.

  7. 8 months in and it can be difficult/tempting when my partner has is one bottle of beer (exactly one!) On a Fri and sat night. But it is a thought and doesn’t take much for me to dismiss it. If I’m having a tough time I will think about wine but it doesn’t take hold, and invariably I ALWAYS feel better for having overcome the temptation.

  8. January 2020 graduate here. Yes. I made the decision on my own to go AF and I noticed a difference in my partner’s drinking right away. Going out for dinner for instance, he just had 1-2 instead of us both having 3-4. Right there…the money saved!!! I was his cheap date. . By March…(about 5 weeks into your course) he announced he was joining me going AF. It was helpful (not going to lie) that we just went into Covid lockdown so temptations were not as strong. I think he noticed how much better I was feeling and wanted some of that! He does like NA beer and that’s what we enjoy now when we go out and I love the FRE sparkling Brute singles when I want to feel like I am partaking. We both love the better nights sleep, hangover free mornings and all the money we have saved this past year and 9 months. Point being…. You make your own choices and did I want him to stop drinking too? I sure did but I knew I could only control myself and be in charge of me, and I wasn’t going to let what he chose to do affect my decision. But then on his own….he decided “I want what she is having “ and so here we are both living the AF lifestyle. If you have a loving partner, don’t use them as an excuse. They just might surprise you!

    1. Love this Paula! You made this decision on your own, for yourself… and look how it influenced your partner! I’m glad to hear all is going so well 🙂

  9. I live alone so it would be easy to ‘cheat’ but I feel as though I’ve been lying to myself for years and don’t want to anymore. This video reinforces the fact that we are responsible for ourselves – many thanks

  10. Thanks for posting this! I’m almost a year sober and my husband, although supportive of my decision has always enjoyed a drink and even though he’s a beer drinker (I was wine) I didn’t think it would tempt me tbh.
    He’s continued to drink.
    Now I’m sober, I realise how drunk he gets! I thought it was just me!!! I find it very difficult sometimes as I feel we are on different wavelengths and I can’t talk to him when he is drinking in the same way as I can sober.
    He does try to help me by trying to moderate but I get how hard it is.
    Life is hard at times but his drinking doesn’t tempt me, it just makes our relationship difficult

    1. Well done for doing what’s right for you Patricia. Who knows what may happen over time… your behaviour might rub off on him. Hang on in there!

      1. I am thinking of signing upto the October course, after listening to your blog, has really made me think, nearly everything my partner and I do together revolves around alcohol, so am very wary of what our relationship will be if I quit drinking……but I know we are drinking way to much, and I really need to take back some control

  11. Hello Kate, Thank you for your insights. I really look forward to your emails as you really hit home on the subject you address.

  12. It’s definitely possible to enjoy an AF lifestyle even if your significant other drinks! We were the couple known for all the big bashes, house concerts, theme parties, you name it. I wasn’t sure I could enjoy life AF, but I knew that all of the guaranteed negatives of drinking far outweighed the perceived benefits. The main thing that attracted me to The Sober School was the theory that I could change my mind-set and make alcohol insignificant. While my boyfriend is about as close to a nondrinker these days as one can get, we still have people over and we will still have parties. We have alcohol in the house, but I don’t even pay attention to it. I really did not believe that was possible, but just like I don’t want to smoke cigarettes and have never been attracted to other drugs, I just don’t want it. I don’t feel deprived at all because I just don’t want it. I have to admit, I didn’t 100% believe Kate when she said I could make it not matter to me at all, but I figured I’d give it a try. I have absolutely no problem being around anyone who’s drinking because I’m so happy and content with my decision.

  13. I used to blame my sis for my drinking and her partner every time we were together I would end up really drunk last time I drank two weekends ago we started fighting she just turned on me two bottles of gin later . All the regret and shame is so not worth it and my kids heard us arguing was after midnight I’ve promised myself and kids it won’t happen again I’ve really had enough I’ve been honest with my sister and said I’m giving up drinking there over Boxing Day and I’ve said there’s no alcohol in this house we both agreed just not worth it !! I will be sober all the time drink is my enemy

  14. I have just listened to this as I am only 5 days in, it’s coming up to Christmas and my husband will not stop until he does dry January which he finds really easy to do. I have all of the thoughts in my head of oh well I may as well just start after Christmas but I also have so many reasons to carry on now – I’m starting a new job in 2 weeks after 18 years in my old one and want to give it my best shot with a clear head, I want to improve my mental and physical health and lose weight, I want to be more present for my precious daughters and granddaughters, I want to feel more revived and get up earlier, the list goes on so why am I finding it so hard??? I feel as though all the butterflies and excitement I feel about us as a couple when we go out for drinks will be gone and then I worry that it will ruin us 🙁 The part about other choices really resonated – I’m vegetarian and he has his steak rare! Yet I would never let that influence me to eat meat again so why is this so different 🙁

    1. Hi Dawn, you have a lot of reasons there to carry on now and they are all very valid reasons. You can only do what you feel is right for you. The butterflies and the excitement will still be there when you go out because you will both be out together, you will just have different liquid in your glass. That is the only difference. Like you say you would never dream of eating meat, why should alcohol be any different.

      1. Thank you so much Kate ☺️ I know it’s early days but I’m noticing so many positives already and I desperately don’t want to go back to that feeling of day 1

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