"Just a small glass of wine while I cook, no more than that," is what I told my wife every Sunday as I rolled up my sleeves to prepare our weekly roast dinner. Pouring out a modest glass of Merlot as I peeled the potatoes, I almost believed it myself.
But one glass become two, of course, and the second soon became a third. By the time the food was ready, I was too tipsy to enjoy it with her like the civilised man I was supposed to be.
Alcoholism wormed its way into my marriage discreetly, without violent arguments or tearful interventions. But the damage it wrought was insidious, and before I knew it, my marriage of three years was on the rocks.
After a particularly alcohol-fuelled Christmas, my family and friends eventually persuaded me to go into alcohol counselling and now I've been sober for eight months; my 55th birthday, which I celebrated recently, was entirely dry.
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It was the best decision I ever made, and if tabloid reports this week that Wayne Rooney is following the same path, seeking alcohol counselling for the sake of his marriage, are to be believed, I hope he'll feel the same way.
After a string of alcohol-related controversies, which include an arrest for public intoxication at an airport in Washington DC earlier this year, plus a court appearance in 2017 for drink driving, after he was caught three times over the limit in Cheshire, his drinking was alleged to be causing "huge problems" with his wife, the source said.
I managed to avoid ever waking up in handcuffs, but my alcoholism reared its head shortly after I met Emma, a writer, through my carpet business. For years, I'd lived a solo life as a bachelor, developing an unhealthy dependence on alcohol and regularly getting through several bottles of Sauvignon Blanc in one evening.
I warmed instantly to Emma's honest, open demeanour, and decided I wanted to be with her. My drinking wouldn't be a problem, I thought – I was a fully-functioning alcoholic, after all, and I wasn't the sort of drunk to get into arguments with my friends or embarrass myself at social events.
But the relationship became difficult about a year before our wedding, when I sold my house and moved into Emma's home in Wandsworth, southeast London, which was also home to her four children.
"How about we get a bottle in tonight," I would suggest most evenings. Soon, I was lying about how much I drank. I would offer to pop out and buy a bottle of Oyster Bay, but return with three, opening one with her and hiding the others around the house to avoid any awkward questions. I started stashing miniature bottles of spirits in my sock drawer, desperate to avoid giving any further credence to the kids' assessment that I was "always drunk."
One afternoon, hours before our friends were due to arrive for a dinner party, I started the "celebration" early with a bottle of bubbly. By 7pm – the time our guests were due to arrive – I was far too drunk to entertain, and I retired to bed with an apology.
Late cinema showings were off the cards, as I was usually already a few glasses down by 8pm. One Christmas, with Emma's family, I spent the whole day hunting for booze, getting steadily more merry on what was supposed to be a genteel, family occasion.
As her family enjoyed their post-dinner coffees, I struggled to engage in any form of conversation.
My most shameful episode occurred when Emma was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. I came along with her to her chemotherapy sessions, of course, but I was often hungover. I piled up the excuses, telling her I'd had a bad night's sleep, desperately trying to remove the stench from my breath.
Still, for a long time Emma didn't seem to think I had any real problem. After all, I was never a particularly nasty drunk, and I wasn't the sort of chap who needed the police to escort me home after a night on the town.
In fact, most of my drinking took place at home, away from the prying eyes of friends. And for the most part, the sauce just made me irritating: I repeated myself constantly, and badgered Emma for reassurance. "Did you hear that, did you hear that?", became something of a catchphrase.
Emma found her way to manage me, tiptoeing around the house to uncover my hidden stash and pouring it down the sink when I was in the other room.
But by six months in, it was the beast that couldn't be ignored. I was spending several nights a week on the sofa, because she didn't want to be around me when I was drunk. She began to dread weekends, when the booze was flowing the fastest, and said that she felt like a single parent again.
She's so polite that she'd never say it in black and white, but eventually I could read it on her face: this marriage will collapse if you don't change.
It was last Christmas that, after seeing me swig alcohol while they were all drinking coffee, that my friend suggested going booze-free for three months. I agreed, and later started counselling, taking myself along to a weekly one-on-one session with a professional.
There, I tried to find the roots of my alcoholism, and I learnt how to resist those all-important drinking triggers, shaking up my weekly schedule to avoid anything I associated with alcohol.
Eventually, I decided to make my sobriety permanent, and I haven't touched a drop of alcohol this year.
It's difficult to express the extent to which sobriety has improved my marriage. Emma's respect for me – which was understandably in short supply during my alcoholic years – has been restored.
We can eat out at restaurants, go away for the weekend, and have proper, meaningful conversations again. I'm now something of a sober evangelical, and my Instagram account, @sober_dave_today, has attracted nearly 5,000 followers. I believe I've helped around 30 people kick their habit.
Sobriety has its challenges, of course. I find the summer months the most difficult, coming as they do with champagne picnics and sunny pub gardens, and I sometimes resort to self-pity: why is it that all my friends can enjoy a pint of beer in the sun, and I can't, I think bitterly?
But I rely on the techniques I learned in counselling to help me through the rough patches. Whenever I feel like a glass of Merlot, for example, I will take myself off on a walk, or plug myself in to a good audio book.
It's not just me who I should thank, of course. It took the right person to help get me sober, and Emma filled that spot perfectly.