One of the myths written about her marriage, Laura says, is that she gave her husband an ultimatum to stop drinking. "I never said the line, 'It's either Jim Beam or me.' I was not going to leave George, and I wasn't going to let him leave me with twins," she says. "Our marriage was enduring. We loved each other, and we were two people who did not have divorce in our DNA. But I was disappointed, and I let him know that I thought he could be a better man."
In their Texas social circle, Laura says drinking was an accepted activity. "We had a very active social life," she says. "Everyone drank a lot. George certainly wasn't the only one, and a lot of women drank a lot, too."
Laura says she noticed George's drinking habits when the twins were young. "I knew that George was drinking too much. And I knew that he didn't want to do that," she says. "That's not really his personality. George is very, very disciplined."
The former president quit drinking cold turkey after a 40th birthday celebration with friends in Colorado Springs. "George just woke up and knew he wanted to quit," she says. "And he stopped."
Laura says her talk with George helped, but it was a combination of things that put an end to the drinking. "We had been in Maine the summer before and Billy Graham had been there, and George had had a long talk with Billy Graham," she says. "Some of our friends had started a men's Bible study that he went to. So I think it was a culmination of all of those [things]—of maturing, of finding yourself at 40 years old and thinking about, 'What do you really want?'"