advertisement
Home » News » Spousal Drinking Habits Should Match for Stronger Marriage

Spousal Drinking Habits Should Match for Stronger Marriage

Spousal Drinking Habits Should Match for Stronger Marriage New research suggests marital harmony does not really depend on how much you drink; rather, a more important factor is how much your spouse drinks also.

In a study, University of Buffalo researchers discovered heavy drinking is bad for marriage if one spouse drinks, but not both.

Researchers followed 634 couples from the time of their weddings through the first nine years of marriage and found that couples where only one spouse was a heavy drinker had a much higher divorce rate than other couples.

However, if both spouses were heavy drinkers the divorce rate was the same as for couples where neither were heavy drinkers.

“Our results indicate that it is the difference between the couple’s drinking habits, rather than the drinking itself, which leads to marital dissatisfaction, separation and divorce,” said Kenneth Leonard, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

Over the course of the nine-year study, nearly 50 percent of couples where only one partner drank more heavily wound up divorcing, while the divorce rates for other couples was only 30 percent. (“Heavy drinking” was defined as drinking six or more drinks at one time or drinking to intoxication.)

“This research provides solid evidence to bolster the commonplace notion that heavy drinking by one partner can lead to divorce,” Leonard said.

“Although some people might think that’s a likely outcome, there was surprisingly little data to back up that claim until now.”

The surprising outcome was that the divorce rate for two heavy drinkers was no worse than for two non-heavy drinkers.

“Heavy drinking spouses may be more tolerant of negative experiences related to alcohol due to their own drinking habits,” Leonard said.

But he cautioned that this does not mean other aspects of family life are unimpaired. “While two heavy drinkers may not divorce, they may create a particularly bad climate for their children.”

The researchers also found a slightly higher divorce rate in cases when the heavy drinker was the wife, rather than the husband.

Leonard cautions that this difference is based on only a few couples in which the wife was a heavy drinker, but the husband was not, and that the finding was not statistically significant.

He suggests that if this difference is supported by further research, it might be because men view heavy drinking by their wives as going against proper gender roles for women, leading to more conflict.

The study controlled for factors such as marijuana and tobacco use, depression and socioeconomic status, which can also be related to marital dissatisfaction, separation and divorce.

“Ultimately, we hope our findings will be helpful to marriage therapists and mental health practitioners who can explore whether a difference in drinking habits is causing conflicts between couples seeking help,” Leonard said.

Source: University at Buffalo

 

Wife upset because husband is drinking beer photo by shutterstock.

Spousal Drinking Habits Should Match for Stronger Marriage

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Spousal Drinking Habits Should Match for Stronger Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/11/22/spousal-drinking-habits-should-match-for-stronger-marriage/62382.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.