Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: My husband tends to not be able to stop drinking, and as I'm not much of a drinker, we've stopped going to bars, clubs, parties, etc. (Restaurants are OK because he can limit himself while dining.)

But now I don't know what to say to people who invite us out. I've outgrown it, but some of my friends are still part of that scene. We go to parties for close friends, and my husband makes an effort to drink responsibly, but I don't want to go to every party because (1) they bore me, and (2) he's likely to drink too much.

Is it OK to refuse invitations by saying our social style has changed and we don't go to most events where there's drinking? The friends we prefer to see are into other activities anyway.

Answer: You don't need any explanation besides "No, thank you," and certainly don't need to say your "social style has changed," since that sounds smug.

However, if your husband isn't getting help, then you can talk yourself blue about social styles, and you'll still be bending yourself like a pretzel around your husband's drinking problem. Please make sure you're actively addressing the emotional implications, both of you, instead of just the fluid-ounce intake.

Q: I have thought about this, and since I drank very little if at all at events before meeting him, I have no problem giving them up. He isn't in AA or treatment, but he also agrees we don't need these events to have fun.

I guess that's why I wrote in. Some of our friends may ask why we keep politely saying "no," and I'd like to be honest and say something like "We're not into bars/clubs/parties and prefer to do other things with you."

A: Even if you're not pretzeling, there's still the strong possibility that the emotional component of your husband's drinking will worsen if ignored.

Your logic is also a little shaky on skipping parties. By saying you won't miss them because you don't really drink, you imply that parties exist for drinking. But since you never really drank and did go to parties pre-husband, that says you once regarded parties as a way to bring people together - before you married someone who had to avoid parties lest he lose control.

If you can tell your closest friend, "My husband needs to stay away from alcohol," then you can feel confident you aren't rationalizing. Till then, I think you're downplaying a potentially very serious problem.

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