Dear Barb – Bottling the Tension

Dear Barb:

We have some friends that we hang out with occasionally and lately I’ve noticed some tension between them. When we get together we often go to an event and have some drinks. The last couple of times we went out I’ve noticed that Brig seems to be monitoring how much alcohol Cindy is consuming. When I ask Cindy if she would like a glass a wine, Brig answers for her, and often says she will have just a little bit. Meanwhile Cindy says sure I’ll have a glass. I ignore Brig’s comments, as I feel Cindy is an adult and she can answer for herself. I don’t think Brig likes that and it is creating tension between us. As the evening progresses and Cindy drinks more it becomes obvious that Brig is annoyed with her. I must admit she does seem to be drinking more lately, she had some traumatic stuff happen recently though. I don’t find Cindy confrontational or argumentative when she drinks, but more talkative and a little rougher around the edges than when she is not drinking. So her personality does change a bit. My husband and I really like them as a couple but we don’t like this tension developing between us. What is the right thing to do, should I do what Brig wants or what Cindy wants? Help, Carla.

Hey Carla:

You say your friend has gone through a difficult time, perhaps this is just a temporary situation, however alcohol is not a healthy way to cope. I don’t think you should do what your friend’s partner wants you to do, but you also have to be responsible. If your friend becomes
belligerent or is causing problems, or is attempting to drive, then you need to say no to the alcohol when they are at your home. I don’t see any evidence of that in your letter. Possibly this bad behaviour begins when they leave your home and Brig is trying to prevent this before it begins. You could go out for coffee with Cindy and discuss the situation as you don’t want to have this discussion where alcohol is available. She may agree that she is drinking too much and that Brig is only being helpful. If that is the case, then you know what to do. If she says he is trying to be controlling and she doesn’t appreciate it, and doesn’t feel there is an issue with alcohol, then you need to make a judgement call and decide what you want to do. Perhaps you could do some activities with them that don’t involve alcohol and you can determine if there is a problem within the relationship. If the tension between them only occurs around alcohol then there very well may be an alcohol problem. Ultimately the problem is with the other couple and they have to work it out, so possibly step back from the relationship a bit and see want happens. Thanks for writing Carla.

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