married to the beer man

Email from Sunny:

“I’d like to begin the 100 Day Challenge, but my situation is a bit odd. I’m wondering if you think it’s too much to overcome.

My husband is fairly prominent in the beer world. Because of his line of work our lives are very focused on alcohol. It pays our bills, it’s how we socialize with friends and family …. My husband says if I want to quit drinking that’s fine, but he will not change how he lives his life. He will continue to drink at home. I will have to attend beer related events with him

Is this an impossible situation? I need to quit drinking, but I’m worried that in my current situation its not possible. Any info or thoughts are welcome. Maybe you know someone in a similar situation? I hope I’m not the only one!”

me: it is possible. I am a caterer and often host large events where I buy, pour, and serve alcohol to my guests and I make homemade cocktails. I just don’t drink any myself. Booze is not good for me. It doesn’t improve my life. But I know that my clients like it and my job is to be of service, and to take their money 🙂

So if you approach alcohol as a tool that helps you earn income, that’s completely different from needing to drink it yourself.

Imagine you’re a vegetarian who’s a chef. You cook meat for the President because that’s what he’s paying you to do. Then you go home and eat lentils and chick peas and couscous and homemade lemonade with tonic and rosemary…

how’s that? hugs belle xo


And hooray! Sunny is on day 4 today 🙂

You may not agree with my advice. You may think her husband should quit his job, or that she should leave him (!) (she has young kids). Or you might think she can’t get sober without her husband’s support.

But really, the only person we’re in charge of is ourselves (well, and the babies we have around us). Sunny can do what’s best for her. I know that lots of people cannot have any alcohol in the house at all. And I respect that 100%. For others (or at least for me), I seem to be able to shelve booze in my mind as “not for me.”

What would you tell Sunny? Is it too much to overcome? Me, I don’t think so… You?

love, me


some of the comments received:

freedom (day 153): “I’d tell Sunny it is possible to do it with alcohol in the house and a husband who still drinks. I have both and I’m on day 153 today. It might be sensible to stay away from the boozy events in the early days..I couldn’t have managed them at that point. And I’ve found going to bed early with a good book can help on the days when I struggle with him drinking. Those are usually days when I’m tired, stressed or struggling with overwhelm and it’s been a real learning curve for me to start to recognise when I’m feeling like that and take steps to look after/protect myself from Wolfie. And remember you’re not alone! Belle is always on the end of an email and has been an incredible support, especially in the tough times…and I have to remember to reach out before Wolfie gets too loud. It gets easier the longer you do it. Keep the faith :)”

Rambling Rose (day 76):
“I think it is up to Sunny as to whether or not she can stay on the sober path and still attend these events/have booze in the home. My roommate has a liquor cabinet full of alcohol, and it doesn’t bother me because I never touched his booze anyway. So it’s not so unusual to stay sober while loved ones have the occasional drink. However, what does bug me a bit is her husband’s attitude (must go to these events? I’m going to drink anyway…). I sense some general resentment between the two of them… and that may make it harder (not impossible) to reconcile while focusing on recovery … I sure as hell would resent being told I have to attend alcohol related events, even if my livelihood was connected to it, because health is more important than people pleasing. Just depends on the person – and the situation. Belle, I think your feedback is good. It’s up to Sunny to decide on her own boundaries.”

Wanda T (day 76): “I am a vegetarian and I know you use this analogy sometimes but it’s not a good analogy because it’s not a valid comparison. Vegetarianism is usually an ethical commitment. So chefs who are vegetarians don’t cook meat. I bake & cook – I wouldn’t even know how to cook meat. I don’t know how the President got worked into the analogy. Sunny is in a very tough spot. If it’s possible for her to go to an in-patient rehab to get the booze out of her system, that would help her I think. She would at least have a running start. Her husband sounds beyond selfish. Going to work-related events where there is alcohol is not the same thing as him drinking at home. There is more going on in this relationship than her husband simply having a social & professional commitment to the Beer Industry. There is also an extreme power imbalance in the relationship if he’s demanding that she attend drinking events while she’s trying to get sober. Sunny could announce at a drinking event that she’s an alcoholic who is trying to quit drinking ….maybe some people there would support her and she’d find out she really & truly is not alone. Good luck Sunny!”

Elyn Jones (Day 143):
“Belle, I think your advice was spot on. We rarely get the ideal environment, so we have to adjust. I’ll bet that most of start out in a less than ideal environment cuz we created it with booze at the center. Doesn’t mean things can’t shift. They can, and thankfully, they do.”

D (not yet a penpal): “Let’s assume for the moment that her husband is not a complete asshole. That may be a stretch, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt. I agree with your statement that the only thing we are in charge of is ourselves … You’re advice was good: put alcohol in the context of a produce / service that provides a livelihood. Separate it from her life. Livelihood on one land, life on the other.”


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • from Ri: Living around booze is probably not too much to overcome. Perhaps it’s not the presence of alcohol that makes us want to drink. It’s the voice in our heads. It’s Wolfie who does the screaming. But you said it right, Belle. “Not for me” – I like that attitude. It’s a good mantra.

  • I do think it’s quite possible for Sunny she just needs to get her sober supports lined up and get into a mental place where she feels strong enough and committed enough to do this 100% ON HER OWN, without one ounce of help from her husband because worse case scenario, that’s what she’s going to get. He clearly doesn’t want her to quit and let’s be honest people…back when we were drinking, did WE want a completely non drinking partner? Of COURSE not! Our lives revolved around the shit! Her husband may or may not also have a drinking “problem” and if he does, this is a scary situation for him as he must feel trapped in having to drink due to his job. Or, perhaps he’s upset because she’ll be changing their lives, completely (and it WILL change their lives completely, of course!). They’ve been drinking partners probably their entire relationship and whether or not he has a drinking problem, she will be taking out a huge component to what their relationship and his livelihood has been largely entwined with, and that’s alcohol. I wouldn’t necessarily conclude that he’s a jerk because this AF wife isn’t what he signed up for. When I was drinking and was on, if a guys profile said he “never” drinks, there wasn’t a snowballs chance in HELL I was going to even read anything else he wrote because THAT was a deal breaker. Perhaps, he’s scared she will be boring or that the long afternoons and evenings partying and having fun will stop for “them” (and to a degree, they WILL). He didn’t marry a sober girl and because alcohol is so entwined into their lives due to his line of work, he may feel her being AF is going to have a negative impact on his work/ business. I’m not condoning his asshole-ish reaction, just trying to give some perspective here because alcohol is intricately layered into literally every aspect of their lives and his livelihood.

    So! Sunny, get all of your sober ducks in a row, plan for the worst as far as your husbands reaction, lack of support, but hope for the best. He may come around and become supportive (fingers crossed…!). you’re throwing him a huge, life changing curve ball right now. But, the bottom line is, you have to do what’s best for YOU and your health regardless…

  • from junebug: I am another example of this journey being very possible for Sunny. We are business owners in gaming and amusements so our customers are predominantly bars. My husband drinks most nights of the week at home as well. Following Belles 100 day program helped me change my pleasure-reward circuit and as new healthy rewards become habits I dont want to lose one more hour to lost time that booze resulted in for me. Outside support systems (4-5 sober folks) let me vent many many times about him drinking. I like the sober life so much better. You can have this and you are on the right path. I understand your frustration and know it is achievable!

  • from K: My attitude is to think of alcohol as something that I just happen to be allergic to. If I was allergic to shellfish, I wouldn’t stop other people eating shellfish, so it isn’t my place to stop them drinking alcohol. I just don’t partake myself (any more). Of course it is more complicated than that, because eating shellfish doesn’t make people violent, aggressive or boring in the way that alcohol can do (and does in my case)!

  • I had a similar situation when I first stopped. I had to attend a alcohol event each week for my job. I felt like I was hostage to it! Then when the event got canceled and we stopped doing the weekly thing–OMG, I felt like it was a gift. It was something I needed to be away from. To wrap my mind that I don’t fit well into the normal life of drinking. Once free from my habit it was a real eye opener. Just a little space so to speak. Perhaps you tell your hubby, you just need some space from the booze for a few weeks to get your sober footing. Then he can go about his normal drinking life and you will go to events with him and so on. It does get easier. My husband has an occasional glass of wine out to dinner and we have it in the house. I just don’t drink and it makes me ill to my stomach to think about the taste of red wine—isn’t that weird? AND Now, when I am confronted with something work or life related that includes drinking, I just say I am not drinking now. It doesn’t work with my health or I say I’m on a kind of medicine where alcohol doesn’t mix. People leave it alone. They don’t want to know anymore usually. It is really a great comparison to vegetarianism! Or Jewish life–no pork, no shellfish….etc. You do your thing, your husband does his. You’ll feel better, I promise you will. And like SarahJune said earlier in this blog–Sunny can spend time getting to know herself and she will find she’s way better off without booze. Go for it Sunny you can do this! We’ve got your back. And you’ll feel so good that your hubby will be jealous!

    • I think this is absolutely possible and I don’t think Sunny’s hubby’s job makes it any more difficult than anyone else who is trying to quit while in a relationship with a “drinker” (who has no interest in quitting). Although it would sure be nice if he were more supportive (makes me wonder if he may have a drinking problem himself but has no interest in going “there” but that’s neither here nor there at this point…). Every single one of my friends drinks, every member of my family drinks, and for more years than I can recall, just about everything I DID involved drinking (even events that didn’t naturally involve alcohol – we’d sneak our own in or drink before and after) so I don’t think her situation is much different than anyone else’s, with the exception of a husband who seems ambivalent or possibly even irritated at the thought of her no longer drinking. Perhaps he’s annoyed that his “partner in crime” will no longer be his drinking buddy, or maybe he is just an asshole and responded like a jerk but only he knows, and really, it doesn’t matter. We all have reasons or excuses or situational scenarios in which we could easily justify drinking. So! Whether her husband ever comes around to support her is really a moot point (while of COURSE we all hope he does!!!). I would say to plan on him NOT (as in, plan for the worst in him) BUT!!! Hope for the best. That way, if he is an asshole about it, she’s fully prepared for that and it won’t derail her quit (by her being disappointed, hurt, disillusioned with him, etc).

      Side note: Maybe he needs a little time to adjust to this. He married a drinker…his work and personal life revolve around drinking and it’s a huge part of every aspect of his world. When I was drinking and was on, the FIRST THING I’d look at is to see how much they drank. If it said “never”, I wouldn’t even read another word because my vino was just that important to me! Perhaps he feels like having someone in his life to drink with is super important and maybe he is worried that was his “world” will now be dramatically changing (and in his mind, it’ll be changing for the worse…). Here’s to hoping he DOES come around and support her and if he doesn’t? She can so totally do this on her own!!! Sunny, just hop on into your little sober car, make sure the trunk is filled with sober tools, make sure the radio has Belle on at least one station, and start your trek down the amazing sober highway…

  • I think it is entirely possible. Just think of it as something you are allergic to. If you want a sober life you can have it. Every single person on this blog could probably give a reason why they need to drink, but we can spin that thought and give reasons why drinking is not a good idea. It sounds like you want to be sober. You just need to know it’s possible. It is! Go for it?

  • It’s definitely more difficult, but it’s very possible. I do like the comparison to vegetarianism. I don’t eat meat. I do cook it for my children, and my partner – they need to make their own choices. It’s in the house. I don’t eat it. Do I like having it in the house, and having to cook it? Nope. But at this time it’s a necessity. There’s booze in my house too – and I’ve had more day ones that I’d care to remember. I think this analogy is actually going to be quite helpful to me.

  • from nickie I think she can do it and understand that her husband needs her support of his professional career – but she will need his support emotionally – quid pro quo.

  • from SarahJune31: “I would tell Sunny that if she knows she needs to stop, then that’s what she must do, no matter what anyone around her says or does. Even her husband. Alcohol works for him, and that’s cool. But if alcohol no longer works for her, she needs to stop putting it in her body. My husband still drinks. All the people around me who drank before I quit still drink. And as I put more days behind me, the fact that I can’t/won’t/don’t drink anymore matters less and less to me. Alcohol wasn’t the reason I was a fun or interesting or charming or likable person. I forgot all the REAL reasons I was a fun and interesting and charming and likable person because I was constantly swimming in an ocean of alcohol, or constantly wanting to. I’m starting to rediscover myself. And I think that with some time, Sunny will too.So if I were her, I would focus on myself right now, and all the social stuff will work itself out down the line. Good luck Sunny!

  • from captain e: There will always be an obstacle – there will always be a party, or a social event, or a reason to drink. You have to do it for you, no matter what.