The impact of having a close relative with a drinking problem can be considerable. The family directly experience the consequences of the drinking behaviour and attempts to cope can produce a variety of negative emotional, psychological, physical and social reactions. And, in turn, family members' coping strategies can have a role in the progression of people's drinking problems. Despite a significant amount of research looking at the families of problem drinkers, little is known about male partners of problem drinkers. Some studies have found that men use a withdrawal style of coping behaviour either physically (by going into a different room or going out) or emotionally (by avoiding confrontation or an active involvement in the problem). A study of 29 male partners of female problem drinkers found that, in fact, the men were more likely to use engaged coping behaviours, trying to change their partners' drinking behaviour, than withdrawal ones. However, the longer the women had had a drink problem the more likely the men were to use a passive or withdrawn coping style.
Philpott, H. and Christie, M.M. - Coping in male partners of female problem drinkers Journal of Substance Use June 2008, 13(3), 193-203