Couples Who Drink Together Stay Together, Says Science

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 
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Couples who have the same drinking habits reported happier marriages

According to a study published this month in the The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Series, couples who drink alcohol together “reported decreased negative marital quality over time, and these links were significantly greater among wives.”

Now, before you go freaking out about the study encouraging alcohol abuse (or whatever), let’s really think about this. Because heeding the results of this study could actually give us some valuable relationship advice.

According to Reuters, the study analyzed responses from 4,864 married participants, in 2,767 couples between 2006 and 2016. The answered questions about “whether they drank, how many days a week they drank and how many drinks they had on the days they drank.” 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.”

Here’s a summary of the findings: “Concordant drinking couples reported decreased negative marital quality over time, and these links were significantly greater among wives. 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.”

Basically, couples were happier if they both drank or both abstained from drinking. But if wives were drinkers and husbands weren’t, wives were even less happy. One of the authors of the study even went as far as to suggest that when one spouse has to stop drinking, the other should stop as well.

This really isn’t rocket science. Marry someone who appreciates a similar lifestyle as you. If you are someone who doesn’t drink at all and frowns upon it, probably better not to marry someone who loves it. Twenty percent of men in the study and six percent of women were considered problem drinkers, and that’s a whole other situation. There is a spectrum of enjoying adult beverages and you could be on it in a healthy way. But if you think indulging in alcohol is totally stupid, or have some very negative experiences related to alcohol (alcoholism in your family, for example) it’s probably not a good idea to think something like drinking can be overlooked — or that you can “change” someone into being a non-drinker.

Same is true on the other side: if you’re someone who likes to partake in her wine, you may want to have a spouse that enjoys that, too – and isn’t constantly rolling his eyes when you suggest sharing a bottle.

“We’re not sure why this is happening,” Dr. Kira Birditt of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Reuters, “but it could be that couples that do more leisure time activities together have better marital quality.”

Well, duh. So uncork that bottle of wine and cheers to your long, happy marriage.

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