Two and a half years ago, my husband decided to stop drinking and now he is evangelical about the benefits of sobriety. He says it was the ever-worsening hangovers and decreasing enjoyment from boozing that prompted him to quit drinking and I nodded along, fully suspecting he’d come wandering back to the alcohol aisle soon enough. But that hasn’t happened. Not a drop of alcohol has passed his lips, which tells me he’s in this for the long term, so I’m a disgruntled passenger along for the ride.
Even the lockdowns didn’t break him: instead of drowning our sorrows together, I was drinking solo, glugging sauvignon blanc and feeling slightly guilty, while he sipped alcohol-free beer, a tonic water or sometimes a peppermint tea. I envied our friends who were arranging collections from the off-licence and drinking through the home-learning angst together. He was disapproving of the suggestion I’d have a drink shortly after my first vaccination – something that really wound me up – and his quoting of research about the benefits of sobriety is becoming increasingly regular.
His choosing not to drink has lifestyle implications for us both and I sometimes feel his actions do have an impact on me, not that he sees it like that. There’s no more choosing a bottle of wine together for a special meal or enjoying some celebratory fizz. We have fairly young children so that Friday-night tipple on the sofa after the bedtime routine was a bright spot in my week: it’s not the same when one of us happily chugs back tap water.
Not drinking together means no camaraderie over a slightly fuzzy head the next day, either. Instead, he’s the hangover police, turning to me with bright eyes and trying to assess if I am feeling the effects of a few too many drinks and then recounting what I might have said or done after a couple of glasses of wine. Naturally, when I can let my hair down with my friends, I look forward to feeling sociable and having a drink with others who are partaking. But the shine is taken off this a bit when he starts pre-empting my hangover and suggesting I’m heading out on a bender.
At first, my husband’s temperance drive remained under the radar with friends asking quietly why he’d decided to stop drinking. But now, he’s recommending books on sobriety to our friends and trying to get more of them to join him on the wagon. Occasionally a few do stop drinking for a month or six weeks but then revert back to their gin collection or craft beers.
I wish he would consider a drink now and then rather than total abstinence. At a wedding, he passed his champagne flute to me for the toasts and made do with tap water himself, then happily drove a car full of revellers home. They were delighted not to have to organise taxis and to dodge cab fares – but then they didn’t get a serving of judgement served with breakfast the morning after.
Going sober myself isn’t something I’m remotely considering, despite many people asking me if I will. In fact, my husband’s choice to avoid alcohol has only made me more determined to enjoy my own tipple. I have started to spend a bit more on decent bottles of wine and I even signed up to a wine club. I figure that if I am drinking on my own, I should at least enjoy what’s in my glass as there’s no one else to share a bottle with.