Q&A: Arguing over social drinking


My fiancée and I are having a disagreement. Her family abstains from alcohol because of a past history of abuse, but my family has enjoyed drinking in moderation. She’s asked me to give up alcohol completely in order to make her family happy. If I compromise on this issue, what else might they ask me to do? What advice can you give me?

Answer: You’ve raised an important question – one that really has little to do with alcohol and much to do with deeper issues like power, control, humility, selfishness, sacrifice, marital independence, healthy boundaries, and loving others. Regardless of where folks stand on the ethics of alcohol consumption, we’d suggest the more pertinent matter to consider is whether we allow any part of life (alcohol or anything else) to consume us.

The first thing we’d advise is to sort out what’s actually going on. Is this a demand your fiancée’s family is trying to impose on both of you? Or is it an independent request that she is making? If it’s the former, or if your fiancée is asking out of a need to please her family, you may be encountering some unhealthy control dynamics that you’ll need to confront (possibly with the help of a counsellor), no matter what you decide about alcohol.

If, on the other hand, your betrothed is simply concerned for her family’s well-being, you’ll need to ask yourself how willing you are to sacrifice your own pleasures in order to demonstrate your love to your future wife. After all, this is what marriage is all about.

Keep in mind the solution here needn’t be an all or nothing proposition. A reasonable approach you and your fiancée might consider would be for you to respectfully forego alcohol when you’re with the in-laws while enjoying an occasional drink when they’re not around. This represents a win-win for everybody.

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