Episode 124: How to Handle Super Bowl Weekend When Your Loved One Drinks Too Much
Super Bowl is a huge drinking weekend. If you love someone that drinks too much or suffers from addiction, they might use this weekend as an excuse to drink more beer, smoke another joint, or take more illegal drugs. I’ve been there. I remember exactly what this weekend was like when I was married to a good man that drank too much and used drugs.
You know that I love our community. It’s full of truly the most strong and brave women that I know. They came up with a flurry of questions on how to handle this particular weekend, and today, we answer some of them.
The first question:
‘Is it okay for me to drink at a Super Bowl party?’
I created this community nine years ago, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question. Let me be real with you, my answer is not popular. This is my opinion, and something that I stood by when I was in a relationship with my ex-husband. He was an alcoholic and addicted to illegal drugs, among other things.
Here’s the deal, I’ve committed to 2019 being my big, bold year and you deserve the truth, so here we go.
The answer is no. You should not drink when you’re at the Super Bowl party. Let me expand further – When you love someone that drinks too much, and they’re in their early days of sobriety, or they haven’t committed to sobriety yet, it’s one of the kindest acts you can do for them. It should come from a place of love and support.
The answer is no. You should not drink when you’re at the Super Bowl party with your loved one suffering from addiction.
How can we possibly ask somebody that we love to stop drinking or using drugs if we’re unable to do that ourselves? Isn’t it a little hypocritical to ask them not to drink if we’re unable to make the sacrifice ourselves?
I was with my ex-husband for 10 years, and for nine of those years I chose not to drink, not even a sip. My idea was to be the most loving and supportive partner that I could, and I saw that as an easy way to do so. I wanted to show my children that I was the strong, sober one. It was important for them to see that they did have one parent that was sober all the time. I needed to be their rock. They had so much instability and worry in their home, it felt like the least I could do for them. I didn’t want them to see Mom drinking, and start to worry that they had two parents that struggled with drinking too much. I was more than willing to make that sacrifice for my children.
Even now I’m not a big drinker, especially around my children. It’s more than 10 years later and I can still sense it makes them uncomfortable. It’s certainly a trigger for them, and that’s no surprise. I rarely have a drink when they’re around, because why would I choose to cause them pain or make them feel uncomfortable just so I can sip a liquid? They are always my top priority.
Research is showing that the growing demographic for alcoholics is women above the age of 40.
Women are relying very heavily on alcohol to cope with daily life. And frankly, society is telling them it’s OK. There are all sorts of “mommy needs wine” products that are super popular right now.
So my loving suggestion to you, sister, is don’t drink. Go dry, and be the role model. Be the example and the safe space for your children (if you have them).
Go dry, and be the role model. Choose to be the example and the safe space for your children.
Here’s the next question:
“I don’t necessarily agree with the drinking and smoking [marijuana] that’s happening at the Super Bowl party, but I don’t want to leave and watch the game at home alone. How can I stay and find peace there?”
Okay, my sisters, this won’t be very popular either, but this is the loving truth. My short answer: You can’t. You won’t be able to stay at that party and find peace when your loved one is drinking and smoking.
You’re at the point in your life where you need to figure out who your friends are and where you’re spending your time. Don’t put yourself in an uncomfortable position where you’re compromising your values just because you’re afraid of being alone.
Here’s the next question:
“My loved one wants to take our kids to a Super Bowl party, but I’m worried he might drink. What can I do to ensure my kids’ safety if it’s their weekend with their dad?”
I do love this question because so many of us have young children. For those women that are separated or divorced, visitations can become a huge issue if they’re not handled properly.
So here’s the deal sister. I know we’re all mama bears when it comes to protecting our children from this disease as much as possible. If we are choosing to stay or if we are choosing to leave, the greatest purpose in our lives right now at this season in our life is to do as many courageous acts as necessary if we have children.
There are no, zero, nada acceptable excuses when it comes to protecting our kids.
We’re far more courageous than we give ourselves credit for.
In this situation, you need to protect your child(ren). What I’m going to ask you to do might feel scary or uncomfortable, but I know you’re up for the challenge. He might get mad, the kids might even get upset. You might ruffle feathers, but I’m here to tell you that that’s okay.
As mothers, we’d do anything for our babies, no matter how old they are. Let me lovingly remind you sister, you’re the adult, you’re the sober one, you’re the mother, and you know what’s best. Sometimes the right decisions are indeed the most difficult. When it comes to your kids’ safety and their protection, you absolutely have to make the hard calls, no matter what anyone else’s reactions might be.
You need to be willing to stand up for yourself and your children in order to make the right decision that needs to be made.
Even if nobody else agrees with you or thinks it’s a good idea.
So, here’s what to do: You can switch weekends with them. Try to do everything, at all costs to have them with you, not at that Super Bowl party where their father is very likely to drink too much.
If you’re separated and you have a rotating visitation schedule, look at the entire calendar year and map out what events may be an issue. What events, holidays, or situations does your partner drink too much? Ask to switch those weekends well in advance if you can.
Think ahead, plan ahead, look at the calendar year, and then ask to switch those weekends.
And here’s the deal, they don’t have to know why you’re asking. That’s frankly none of their business. If you’re trying to avoid conflict, don’t give them a reason. If you ask for the switches far in advance, they might not even connect the dates with the particular holiday or party. The more prepared you can be, the less stressed out you’ll be in those moments.
For now though, since the Super Bowl is right around the corner, have the uncomfortable conversation. You can say something like, “Listen, why don’t you go to that party this year and I’ll take the kids? You’ll have a wonderful time with your friends and won’t have the extra worry of the children. I know you’ll have way more leeway to do the things you want to do if you go by yourself. I’m happy to trade this weekend for you.”
You don’t have to make it about the kids and you don’t even need to make it about the drinking. Frame it up as the best way for them to enjoy the party.
Okay, you might be thinking, “Michelle, what do I do if he pushes back?”.
If he’s really pushing back and saying that he really wants the kids, that’s when you can calmly bring up the past. You can say something like “Historically, you’ve gotten drunk with the children at this party. I don’t want to cause a conflict and I want you to have a good time. If the children were with you at that party, I’d be incredibly worried about their safety if you started drinking.”
Remind him that you’re being honest and not looking to start a conflict.
If your partner is in a reasonable and healthy space, they should agree to the trade. When they see you’re not being confrontational or accusatory, we hope they will react from a good place.
Most likely, they are getting what they want: The freedom to go to the Super Bowl party without having to be responsible for anyone else.
If he is in a poor space, or being a dry drunk, you might have a conflict on your hands.
If you’re legally required to exchange the kids but you refuse, you might be at risk for being in contempt of court. I was in contempt many, many times. But when I was in these situations, I just flat out told my ex-husband that the answer was no. I’d explain to the judge that my ex has a serious problem, and I was protecting my children. Now, I’m not necessarily recommending that, because that may not be best in your situation. I’m sharing what I had to do, and that was best for my situation.
We have so many sisters in our community that share situations like this in our Secret Facebook Group. They get advice and support on what to do and say from women that have been there. Women that understand. And women that never judge.
If what I just described doesn’t fit your situation, I have another option for you: educate your children.
Educate your children.
This does depend on how old they are, but if they’re going to the Super Bowl party where their father will be drinking, they need to know how to be their own advocates. Lead by example here. Let me lovingly remind you that you’re the strong and sober parent. They look to you for guidance and instruction.
Say something like ‘Daddy has a problem with his drinking and sometimes he gets out of control. If that starts to happen, here’s what to do…’
When you start this conversation with them, make sure you’re in a safe and quiet place. Take out their cell phones (we talk about why it’s necessary for them to have a phone in the Stay or Go program, even when they’re young) and make sure they have two safe contacts saved in their phone. These should be your friends or family. A non-judgmental person that knows what’s going on and has your children’s best interest at heart.
Make sure they go to the party with a full battery.
They might be playing games or whatnot to keep themselves entertained at the Super Bowl party, so make sure the phone is completely charged.
Say something like, “If you see Daddy drinking, I need you to call me immediately and I’ll come get you. I promise I won’t be dramatic at all, and I’m not going to cause an argument. I’ll casually pull up outside, or even down the block and wait in the car. You don’t need to tell your daddy that you’re leaving. That’s my job. You can just leave the party and walk to my car.”
Once you have your children safe in the car from the Super Bowl party, you can send a casual text to your partner to let him know you have the kids. You can let him know that you had a game plan if he were to start drinking. Let him know if he wants to get mad, get mad at you, not the kids. He can continue to have a good time at the party, all the while knowing the children are safe.
This may not go over well. But I know you’re a strong and brave woman. You should feel proud that you did the best thing for your children. If they start to send nasty texts and calls, just block their number for now.
You’re equipped to handle any temper tantrum because you’re doing the right thing.
The right thing always wins and the right thing is to protect your children at all costs, no matter how many people are going to be upset by that.
You can do this. The communication tools that you’re teaching your kids are the tools that they can use for a lifetime. This is actually one of the blessings of this disease.
These are tools and skills that your child will use later in life, even into adulthood. Let’s say in college a friend that’s been drinking too much volunteers to drive them home. Do you think your child will get in that car? They’re probably going to remember the tools that you taught them. They’ve seen their parent struggle with addiction, and now they’ll be equipped to know what to do. Far better than people that were not around addiction as children.
Addiction is giving your kids tools to equip them when they grow into young adults.
I’ve seen this in my own children time and time again: all the benefits of how addiction has helped my kids mature and grow into really responsible, passionate kids.
Many, many blessings will come out of this. I promise you just do the right thing, mama. You are a strong woman. You’re courageous and most of all you are intelligent. You know what’s right for your kids. Your instincts are telling you ‘hey, this is a potential situation’. Pay attention to those instincts and to your mother’s intuition. It works and it’s there for a reason. Don’t undermine this disease and what it’s capable of. You might not ever forgive yourself if something happened to your kids and you didn’t do everything possible to protect them.
And one last note. I’ll start by saying this is a non-negotiable. You have to commit to this right now if you haven’t already.
If you’re ever aware that your partner is driving under the influence with your children in the car, you have to call the police.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s Super Bowl or not. Every woman in this community needs that boundary in her life. Promise yourself that you will do that. Write it down on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you’ll see regularly. Say it outloud in the mirror. Sister, I am serious here. You’re strong. And you must commit to this.
You’ve got this. You can do this. I believe in you and I know that you are capable of standing up to this disease on behalf of your kids.
Sisters, get your Super Bowl plans in place now. Get prepared. We’re right here with you every step of the way.
If you’re a member of one of our programs, post your Super Bowl plans and strategies inside the Secret Facebook Group. That’s part of the healing process and it helps hold us accountable. Share your plans with each other because that’s where ideas happen. That’s where we get stronger together.
Are you ready to take your healing to the next level?
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Love Over Addiction is a private self-study recovery program just for women who love someone who drinks too much or suffers from substance use disorder.
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