Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain, members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, have been married more than 50 years and have seven children, 21 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

She says:

Chloe says: I love Jeff and the kids, but trying to manage a household and drive the kids to their scheduled activities as well as working part time can stress me out. Recently Jeff approached me about my drinking, but I see my drinking as a stress reducer.

Besides, I love the cute sayings I have in the house with regard to my wine: “Age improves with wine,” “Girls just want to have wine,” or “Chocolate and wine are great allies.”

I cope better with wine. It mellows me. It is true that sometimes I can be a bit gruff if I am too stretched out, but imagine what I would be if I did not use wine to calm me down. Jeff is exaggerating this. I am fine, and even better, after I have had my wine.

He Says

Jeff says: Chloe is a good woman. She has always been loving and has been a great mom to our 14-year old son and our 10-year-old daughter.  Over the years, Chloe has increased her drinking. This has been a gradual thing. Now she drinks from noon on when she is not working.

By the time the kids and I get home, she is slurring her words and often near a non-functional state. Recently she has begun to lash out at the kids if they do something wrong, being verbally vindictive.

My concern is increasing as I see empty wine bottles shoved to the bottom of our recycling can. Chloe seems to be clandestinely drinking more and more when the kids and I are not around.

I approached Chloe about my concern for her increased drinking and the effect it is having on the kids and me, but she became so angry that I let it drop. I don’t know where to proceed from here. I want to keep this within these walls and not go public with what is an embarrassment to the kids and myself. What should I do?

What Do They Do?

Drinking may be one of the most common, yet least talked about, causes of marital conflict. Too many husbands and wives in our culture today find their spouses drinking too much to ease the stress of job, kids and other responsibilities.

Most families want to keep this rather shameful behavior quiet and “within the walls” of their own house, but the problem may be too great to not get help from the outside.

Jeff and his children are not alone in this struggle. Unfortunately, this issue is often swept under the carpet.   

Spouses who try to get a commitment from their drinking partner to “cut down” on their drinking are usually asking someone to make a promise that he or she cannot keep.

A more successful approach is to simply and matter-of-factly point out the connection between the partner’s drinking and its consequences.

Jeff and Chloe’s children are old enough to write letters to their mom describing how they feel when she drinks and how her habit affects them. Jeff can also do this. They can all sit together and lovingly share their thoughts by reading their letters to Chloe, encouraging her to see that her drinking is a great concern to them.

This approach, rather than a confrontational strategy, is much more likely to create a bond between spouses. It represents a collaborative effort that can lead to positive change.

Should Chloe’s addiction not improve or even worsen, Jeff needs to seek more professional attention for himself and his family, such as Al-Anon.

Scripture offers us wisdom on how to use alcohol responsibly, with respect for its impact upon our bodies and minds: “Look not on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the glass. It goes down smoothly; but in the end it bites like a serpent, or like a poisonous adder” (Proverbs 24: 31-32).

God’s word also offers us tremendous reassurance and hope when facing struggles with alcohol:

“I command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)