Thursday, 15 June 2017

Drinking and Divorce

There was a fabulous article in the Daily Mail yesterday which asked Why are so many women drinking their way to divorce?

For the full article, click here.

According to the article, a recent study showed that more and more marriages are breaking down because of the wife's excessive drinking. It's thought to contribute to as many as one in seven divorces.

I can see how that can so easily be the case, as I get so many e-mails from women telling me that their husbands have given them an ultimatum: either the booze goes, or I do.

Looking back, I see now that alcohol was the root cause of many of my marital arguments. There were a few spectacular ones, like the Finnish wedding.

Mr SM had known the groom since they were at school together at the age of ten. They also spent a memorable year, after they graduated, living in St Petersburg, where Mr SM learned to speak rather ropey, but extremely sexy, Russian.

The wedding venue was stunning - the bride's family summer house on the edge of a Fjord, in the height of summer when, that far North, it never gets dark. At about 2am the light would get a little dusky, but a couple of hours later the relentless bright sunshine would return.

We had a ball. Being just over a narrow sea from Russia, there was a vodka and caviar bar which we made the most of, then a lavish wedding feast of reindeer, washed down with endless enthusiastic toasts of unpronounceable finnish spirits.

At about three in the morning, the last coach was leaving for the hotel, half an hour away. Mr SM was having so much fun with the fins in the sauna that he refused to come back with me.

They were all sitting in the heat, naked and sweating, while Mr SM sang 'Fins can only get better' (that joke must have worn thin after a while). Then they'd run at full pelt down a wooden jetty and dive into the ice-cold fjord.

I lost it. We had a screaming row, and then I sat on the floor of the bus (there were no seats left) telling all the bemused (and rather concerned) passengers at great length how Mr SM had never truly loved me and it was all over.

Mr SM managed to get a lift back in the boot of someone’s car about an hour later. We both woke up, terribly hungover, at around lunch time having forgotten most of the detail of our very public meltdown, and couldn’t understand why everyone was looking at us strangely and asking if we were ‘okay.’

The vast majority of our alcohol based arguments were, however, nothing like as dramatic as the Finnish one. Just the endless tetchy debates (when hungover) about who was going to feed the baby at 5am, or take the toddler to a party where you’d have to clap and sing and participate.

Then, after a few glasses of wine in the evening, the drunken fights (inevitably started by me) about who wasn’t pulling their weight around the house, or with the childcare.

I’m sure that every married couple has these sorts of arguments, but the problems start when the majority of your conversations end up like this.

Marriage is like a piggy bank. Every time you do something nice, thoughtful or generous for the other person you put money into the bank, and every time you treat them badly, thoughtlessly or carelessly to take money out. If you’re not careful, eventually the piggy bank is empty.

The other issue with drinking in a marriage is that excessive alcohol use leads to self-hatred, anxiety and depression, all of which make it very difficult to focus properly on your relationship, to top up that piggy bank.

Yet, even when we know we're destroying our relationships we carry on. Why?

Because we assume that life without booze just won't be worth living.

Well, that's where you're wrong. It's ten times better. So please, just do it. Before it's too late.

Love SM x

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Strong Women Don't Drink

In the UK we've woken up to a general election result that no-one would have predicted just a few weeks ago.

This, along with the equally surprising Brexit result and recent US election suggests that, all over the world, people are unhappy with the status quo, with the ruling elites and are questioning what the future should look like.

In addition to all this uncertainty and unrest, we have suffered increasing numbers of terror attacks - three in the UK in a matter of weeks. It feels as if our very foundations are shifting and unstable.

In times like this we all need a bit of escapism. So, rather than searching for it in the bottom of a wine glass, go check out the new Wonder Woman film. I took the children last weekend and we all loved it.

Diana, Wonder Woman, daughter of Zeus and sister of Aires (it turns out), is a fabulous reminder that the last thing you need in times of crisis is a glass of wine.

It feels as if women everywhere turn to various coping mechanisms to help them manage the increasing pressures of modern life, of work and family. If it's not booze it's food, or internet shopping, or prescription medications, or online bingo.

But, having been there, and having dealt with both life threatening illness and the death of a close friend in the last year, I can tell you, honestly, that you are far stronger, and much better able to deal with the things life throws at us, sober.

In my early days of quitting, whenever things got tough, I would remind myself that Ripley in Alien would never have murdered that monster mother of alien parasites if she'd had a few strong drinks first.

Likewise, Sarah Conor in Terminator, or Danaerys - Mother of Dragons - in Game of Thrones. You don't see them turning to the bottle when it all gets a bit stressful. They use strength, wisdom, machine guns and dragons.

And Wonder Woman, armed with a huge sword and a rather fabulous lasso, is another fine example.

Plus, she has an extraordinary, but marvellous, dress sense and, whilst there's not an ounce of fat or cellulite on her, she looks as if she actually eats her meat and two vegetables every day.

So, there I was, watching the film, cheering on Wonder Woman and reminding myself that strong women don't need booze, when the hero passed her a glass of beer!

I watched, avidly, as she raised the glass but put it down without drinking. Then, magically, it was in her hand again (a continuity error that only the most eagle-eyed obsessive - which I am - would have noticed) and she put it down again without drinking a drop.

So, there you have it. Yet more proof that strong women don't drink.

Hurrah, and love to all you superheroes,

SM x