Couples that drink together stay together

Couples with similar drinking habits are more likely to have a happier relationship, with the benefits of mutual drinking, or not drinking, “significantly greater among wives”, according to a US study.

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Couples with similar drinking habits, whether they drank alcohol or not, were found to be happier than those with dissimilar habits.

The study, conducted by the University of Michigan, found that married couples aged over 50 with the same drinking habits as their partner – whether they partake, or abstain – tended to be more happier than those whose drinking habits were misaligned.

The amount that people drank was less important than whether both partners had the same habit of drinking or not drinking, the study found, as reported by Reuters.

Women in particular became increasingly dissatisfied over time when only they, and not their partner, drank.

“Concordant drinking couples reported decreased negative marital quality over time, and these links were significantly greater among wives”, the study read.

“Wives who reported drinking alcohol reported decreased negative marital quality over time when husbands also reported drinking and increased negative marital quality over time when husbands reported not drinking.”

Birditt interviewed 2,767 couples between 2006 and 2016 as part of the study, analysing their responses to questions posed about their drinking habits and quality of their marriage.

In more than half of couples, both spouses drank, with husbands more likely to drink than their wives. But, particularly for wives, there was less satisfaction with a relationship when only one drank.

Spouses have a huge impact on each other, especially when they’re older and retired and spending a lot of time together, said Birditt. She suggests that when one spouse has to stop drinking, the other should stop as well.

“The present findings stress the importance of considering the drinking status rather than the amount of alcohol consumed of both members of the couple when attempting to understand drinking and marital quality among older couples”, researchers concluded. “These findings are particularly salient given the increased drinking among baby boomers and the importance of marital quality for health among older couples.”

The study was published in The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Series.

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