Relationships & Abstinence From Drinking

By Doug Mayberry

December 2, 2019 4 min read

Q: My health is getting worse, and I've made the decision to stop drinking. Alcohol has been making me feel awful, and it's no longer worth it. It interacts badly with my medication and makes me feel ill for several days.

I've been seeing a woman in my retirement complex for about a year, and she's a heavy drinker. She doesn't seem to have any problems processing it and doesn't understand my decision.

Spending time with her is getting more awkward, as she always brings out the booze.

How can I change this relationship dynamic?

A: Those who care about you should understand your decision to stop drinking.

Talk to your girlfriend and explain where you're coming from. Our own health is very personal, and not everyone has the same needs. Even if you need to change your habits, she doesn't have the same considerations in mind.

Do you feel like having alcohol around makes you more likely to make poor health decisions for yourself? Or do you feel like she's judging you for your choices? These scenarios pose vastly different outcomes on your relationship, although the first shows more potential for compromise.

Is she willing to help you maintain your health? In relationships, we should choose people who support what's best for us. If she doesn't have your best interests in mind, the relationship isn't worth pursuing. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter


Q: My neighbor's husband passed away in August, and now she's all alone. They weren't able to have children, and she doesn't have any other family left. As far as I know, she doesn't have a huge circle of people around her.

She seems to be withdrawing from everyone, and I'm worried that she's depressed. This time of year is especially hard for seniors on their own.

How can I help my friend through the holiday season?

A: The flip side of a season known for joy and togetherness is that some people are left out in the cold.

December is a very lonely time of year for people without large support networks. Many seniors find themselves in the position of outliving some of their closest relationships and struggling to get through it.

Holidays are comforting primarily because we give ourselves the time and space to be with our loved ones and participate in traditions. Traditions help remind us of times past and of a shared connection over time. When we start to lose our loved ones, we start to lose those traditions as well.

Although it's tempting to bypass the holiday season when grieving, celebrating can have a cathartic effect. She may not be ready to commit fully, but a little joy can go a long way.

Do your best to continue reaching out and encouraging her to leave home. If possible, invite her to some of your own celebrations. Ask her about her own traditions, and see if you can share them together.

Popular activities like caroling, crafts, baking or shopping can give you an excuse to spend time together.

Remind your friend that she's not alone, and give her the option to join in. — Doug

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: AnnieSpratt at Pixabay

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