Couples Who Drink Together Stay Together

Publish Date
Saturday, 16 July 2016, 1:07PM

If you need an excuse to crack open a bottle tonight, this could be the perfect excuse.

Couples with the same drinking habits tend to be happier than those where only one partner drinks, a study has found.

Whether they are heavy drinkers or tee-total, women in particular become dissatisfied if they drink and their husband doesn't, researchers said.

The amount people consumed was less important than whether both partners had the same habit of drinking or not drinking, they added.

The study's author, Dr Kira Birditt, of the University of Michigan, said: 'We're not suggesting that people should drink more or change the way they drink.

'We're not sure why this is happening, but it could be that couples that do more leisure time activities together have better marital quality.'

In other words, drinking may not be the only reason they're getting along, Dr Birditt said.

To come to their conclusions, the team analysed responses from 2,767 married couples who were involved in the long-term Health and Retirement Survey.

Between 2006 and 2016, the people in the study had a face to face interview with researchers and answered questionnaires about their drinking habits.

They revealed whether they drank, how many days a week they drank and how many drinks they consumed in a sitting.

Couples were married for an average of 33 years and about two-thirds were in their first marriage.

They also answered questions about the quality of their marriage, including whether they thought their spouses were too demanding or too critical, if their spouse was reliable when they needed help and if they found their spouse irritating.

The researchers found that in more than half of couples, both spouses drank.

Husbands were more likely to drink than wives. But particularly for wives, there was a problem when only one of the spouses drank.

When wives drank and the husbands didn't, wives reported they were more dissatisfied with their marriage.

'The study shows that it's not about how much they're drinking, it's about whether they drink at all,' Dr Birditt told Reuters Health.

But she claimed drinking is becoming an increasing problem among baby boomers as they 'seem more accepting of alcohol use'.

The study also shows partners influence each other while they are together, especially when they are retired and spending more time together, she says.

Dr Birditt suggests when one spouse has to stop drinking, it might be time for the other to consider taking the same action.

But an expert who was not involved in the study found the number of participants who were heavy drinkers more interesting.

Dr Fred Blow, also from the University of Michigan, noted around 20 per cent of men and 6 per cent of women were classed with a significant drinking problem in the study.

Heavy drinkers are known to have disruptive relationships with people, in particular their partners, he says as he called for more research into the issue.  


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