It is all too common in relationships with a drinker that an emotional rift can open up.  When that happens it is difficult to maintain a loving relationship with a person you view as causing you problems, emotional, financial, physical etc.  Often suspicion, contempt, disrespect, scorn, revulsion and even hatred can enter the relationship.  When this happens can be difficult to repair the relationship, even if the drinker gets sober and stays sober.

While LOVE appears to be primarily aimed at preserving the relationship, it would be far too simplistic to view it solely on those terms.  It is an vital part of achieving all of the aims expressed in the Bottled-up approach and successfully carrying through the HOPE process.  If you are successfully going to reduce problems then a thorough assessment must be carried out using the SHARE tool.

To do this you need to approach the assessment with a detached manner in an attempt to get an accurate view of the situation that will allow you to choose and implement the best solution.  If you are not detached and are instead full of anger and resentment then your assessment of the situation, the option you choose and your method of applying it may be motivated more by punishment and revenge than trying to find a solution.  While this would be very understandable and normal, bit would, unfortunately, be  unproductive..

You are much more likely to get a reasonable and positive reaction from the drinker if you approach him/her in LOVE rather than in anger or another negative emotion.  The LOVE approach is not an easy, nor indeed the most instinctive, reaction or way to behave, particularly given the circumstances.  It is however much more effective.  That is what we meant when we said that the Bottled-up approach is pragmatic.  In this case the end does justify the means.

It is important

to remember

Love is for yourself

Another Reason

However there is another reason to adopt the LOVE attitude and that is – for yourself.  When you are immersed in negative feelings and emotions you are enslaved by them.  For example look at the word resentment.  We all know this word and it quite adequately sums up the emotions often felt about a drinker or their behaviour.  However what does it actually mean.  It derives from the French re-sentir meaning to re-feel.

This is what happens, the drinker angers us by getting drunk and then falls asleep leaving us to rage.  The next day, couple of days, a week, even longer we may continue to rage – or re-feel.  Even though the drinker is not doing anything right at this minute, they still command our attention as we continue to re-feel the emotions over and over again.  If we can stop re-feeling then we can be much freer in our heads, hearts and emotions.  The best way (although not an easy way) to do this is to change our view.  It is a psychological principle that it is harder to resent someone we love than someone we despise or hate.  Therefore, if we can remember that we love the drinker and can apply LOVE to the drinker then we are empowering ourselves.  We set ourselves free and that is well worth doing.

It is important to realise that applying the attitude of LOVE is not some tree-hugging, airy-fairy piece of fluff.  It is pragmatic and practical.  It is aimed at preserving the relationship but it has many more benefits as it should help us to be more dispassionate in our view of problems and less jaundiced when it comes to applying a solution.  Rather than being a weak and passive approach it is instead a very empowering move as we decide to apply LOVE and free our minds of resentment.

So what do we mean by LOVE?

We are sure that you know what love is as a feeling or emotion.  This section explains what we mean by using LOVE as a tool or a strategy.

Leave the drinker to sort out their own life and drinking problem.  You will trust them to make the right decision about their drinking and getting help but that may mean that they also have to experience the consequences of their drinking.  If as, many do, you have been there trying to make sure that they don’t hurt themselves, fall asleep in the lounge or you have phoned a friend to say he/she has a cold/stomach upset/whatever, or any of the multitude of other things that partners do to help the drinker, then it may be time to stop.  We will discuss many of these ‘ways of helping’ the drinker and some other more effective solutions later.

Optimise your time with the drinker when she/he is sober to build your communication and relationship.  Instead of fighting about the last binge or making him feel guilty by silence try spending some quality time together.  It may make you feel better about your life and relationship and make him remember why he is in a relationship with you and make him want to change his drinking.  Trying to do something that he likes at these times will greatly help this process.  Arguing just polarises the positions of those involved, whereas reaching out breaks down barriers.

Value your drinker by remembering the things about her that brought you into the relationship in the first place.  Actively remember the good things about her, what attracted you to her?  What were/are her good qualities?  By doing this you are combating the negative feelings and resentments and, as we discussed above, freeing your mind.

Encourage and praise any attempts at positive change.  If he suggests going to his doctor or AA then encourage him and you may even suggest going with him for support.  Or if he suggests or makes any other positive changes, again support him.  This is another psychological principle that if we get a good result from something, for example support and praise, then we are more likely to repeat it.  So encourage him and he may just change some of his decisions and behaviours.

The LOVE Toolbox

Leave the drinker to sort out their own life and drinking problem

Optimise your time with the drinker when she/he is sober

Value the things about her that brought you into the relationship

Encourage and praise any attempts at positive change

We have produced a workbook for LOVE that should help you to put this powerful tool into practice.  It has been written as a step-by-step guide.  Please do not try to carry out all the steps at once, it will take time to work through the book and also to work out what you actually think and feel about some of the material.

To get the workbook click on the link below.  Click on the download button and save the document to your computer.  You may want to print the book out so that you can complete the steps.

The Book of LOVE