At the age of 20, I met a tall, skinny kid in a bar (fake IDs were used, though). In each other, we found love, companionship, and an amazing party buddy.
He appreciated the fact that I was a beer drinker and not some girly-girl hiding behind a fruity concoction with a paper umbrella. I appreciated the fact that he could hold his liquor without becoming a burden to everyone in the Irish pub. We both appreciated each other’s mad John Travolta dance moves.
We spent three carefree years together enjoying life, having fun, and drinking our butts off. We never once decided we’d learn how to quit drinking and leave that lifestyle behind.
We started throwing back vodka shots and ale on Friday after work and didn’t quit until Sunday evening. We never missed Tuesday Trivia or Open Mic Thursday, either. Our nights were late and our mornings were early.
Although we battled horrible hangovers in our early morning college classes and called into work sick a couple of times, we were so consumed with enjoying our youth and having a good time that we didn’t realize how damaging our drinking habits were to not only our livers but to both our present and future relationship.
We were two inebriated kids with hard heads and strong opinions. We were trying to discover who we were and how we wanted to spend our lives together, but our heads were spinning too often to agree on anything. We argued tirelessly over petty matters. We spoke drunken words that couldn’t be forgotten when the 80 proof wore off.
We broke up and got back together more times than any celebrity couple. It was annoying and exhausting for our family, our friends, and for us.
However, we refused to believe that alcohol was a problem in our relationship, and we foolishly decided that marriage would cure all of our issues.
We had a beautiful, lavish outdoor wedding followed by a reception that left us both with fancy clothes that reeked of warm champagne. We both battled extreme hangovers when we boarded our honeymoon cruise the next day.
We spent a week sailing the Caribbean with liquor-filled coconuts in our hands as we tried to do the limbo and manage not to fall overboard. And sometime between the buffet and boilermakers during that first week of wedded bliss, I got pregnant.
My life changed forever at that moment. My husband’s life? Well, not so much.
I was ready to become a parent, but my husband was not. As I decorated our nursery and craved waffle fries, my old party buddy left me home alone to barhop and play poker until the wee hours of the morning. He also received a job promotion around that same time which required him to schmooze customers with business dinners and open bars.
I loudly and belligerently voiced my concern about my husband’s late nights, and he would sincerely apologize and stay on the straight and narrow for a few weeks until the phone rang with an open seat at the poker table or a VIP flying into town expecting to be treated to a good time and expensive wine.
So many nights I gritted my teeth and rubbed my large, stretched stomach, and told my daughter that all of this would change the moment he saw her face. It didn’t.
My husband loved our daughter immensely from the moment she was born and he was a good provider, but he couldn’t seem to do the right thing and put his late nights behind him. He often left me home alone to breastfeed our infant and cure her colic because he was too weak and the temptations were too strong.
I contemplated divorce for a long time, and I threatened to kick him out more times than I could remember. But it wasn’t until our little girl was 3 and I was pregnant with our second child that I packed his belongings and changed the locks.
My husband reluctantly gathered his suitcases and left his pregnant wife, beautiful little girl, and newly built dream home to check into a cheap hotel. That night, he went on a liquor binge. When I found out that he was out drinking on the very evening he lost everything good in his life, I was devastated. But I had no idea that his choice to drown his sorrows in alcohol that night was the best decision of his life (and mine).
My young husband, who once had everything he ever wanted, woke alone the next morning in the back of his truck parked in the lot of his favorite bar.
He was covered in vomit and his body ached so hard he was sure he was on the brink of death. He had no recollection of the night’s events or passing out there, but he was so consumed with guilt and shame that he vowed to put his partying ways behind him and become the husband and father that we deserved.
And he did.
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My husband is no longer the same man he was five years ago, thank goodness. And he’s no longer my party buddy.
Yes, we have the occasional glass of wine or champagne at the weddings and celebrations that we attend and our date nights aren’t always alcohol-free. But we’ve learned discipline and restraint, and we both know that neither one of us wants to end up in the back of a truck, alone, covered in puke and shame.
Before I married my party buddy, we spent many carefree years together consumed by the nightlife. I immediately left that lifestyle behind for my children, but it took my husband a little longer to tell it goodbye.
There came a time when I didn’t need a party buddy anymore. I needed a husband. I’m so glad he chose the latter.
Alex Alexander is a Yourtango.com pseudonym.