Anger and Alcohol
anonymous Asks ...
My husband gets very aggressive when he drinks alcohol. He only drinks about once or twice a week but whenever he goes beyond a few beers he gets very belligerent and we always end up fighting. I always tell myself I am not going to let him bait me into something but he just won’t quit until he has picked a fight with me and anyone else around me. He always feels bad about the way he acts the next day but that doesn’t really help at the time when he seems to lack this sense of self awareness.
When he’s not drinking he is a nice guy and not at all aggressive. He has never hit me or anyone else. He doesn’t drink every day so he is not an alcoholic or anything like that. I have asked him to quit drinking because of the way it makes him behave but he says he enjoys relaxing with his friends and since he doesn’t drink too often he doesn’t have a problem like a lot of people he knows. What can he do to stop acting the way he acts when he is drunk? Is there anything I can do to keep him from becoming such a difficult person after a few drinks?
Jill Edwards Says ...
There appear to be two problems here, one is his desire to pick a fight and the other is having a drink or two too many. Unfortunately they are closely linked.
In terms of asking “Is drink a problem”, it is a problem if it is the basis for fights in your relationship. It is worth understanding that drink can be a problem without a person drinking every day, many people can go one or two days and still have difficulties and some people are “binge” drinkers in that they only go and get drunk rarely, say once a month or every two weeks.
It is quite understandable that he likes to be with his friends and sees other people drinking more than him, so he does not see it as a difficulty. It is possible he does not have as clear a recollection as you have of the night before.
One of the things that may be driving his unpleasant behaviour is his feeling guilty for having gone out for a drink and coming home late. People often get angry then to protect themselves from what they expect to be a negative response from you. There may be stronger underlying issues of feeling a victim in other situations. I do not know if there are situations from his childhood or from your current circumstances which are contributing to his general state.
When a person is under the influence of drink, the front of the brain is as it were disabled and he is in no position to act with judgement. It is so clear that if he could judge he would not do it and you can see this in the remorse on the following day. It is good for him to understand that it is not the person who is sober that makes you so upset, but the person he is when he is drinking.
It may be helpful to go down the road of getting some counselling around the anger, but I do not think this problem will be solved while he is still having a few drinks too many.
You will have to make it clear that this is a problem which will affect how you are together and that keeping drinking to manageable levels is the minimum which will keep your relationship on a good level. It is also important to feel safe and to leave the house if you have any serious concerns.
You, yourself may benefit from contacting Al-Anon an association for people who are affected by behaviour that is drink related.