November 29, 2013

Study links divorce to alcohol consumption

Recent research published by the University of Buffalo suggests that the use of alcohol only has significant effects on the health of a marriage when spouses consume differing amounts. This marked the latest in a number of studies concerning the connection between drinking habits and divorce.

The study tracked 634 married couples’ alcohol use, discovering that relationships in which both parties drank roughly the same amount resulted a 30 percent divorce rate. Conversely, 50 percent of couples that consumed substantially different amounts ultimately divorced. The study’s lead researcher explained that the data suggests that alcohol use alone has little effect on marital unhappiness.

The research reinforced findings from a larger-scale Norwegian study that analyzed responses from nearly 20,000 married couples. According to that study’s results, the risk of divorce becomes particularly high when a wife regularly consumes more alcohol than her husband, with officials estimating divorce to be three times more common for couples matching such a description. Researchers were unsure regarding why this might be true, though one expert suggested that heavy drinking might impair women more severely than men. Similarly, a wife’s alcohol habit may interfere more with the upbringing of children.

A 2012 study from the American Sociological Study revealed that married women tend to drink more alcohol than their divorced or widowed counterparts, due in part to their relationships with men who frequently imbibed. However, the research also showed that married men drink significantly less compared to single men.

The results suggest that heavy-drinking couples are equally as likely to remain in happy, long-lasting marriages as couples that completely abstain from alcohol. Rather, damaged marital relationships are substantially more likely to be linked to differing lifestyles between spouses.

Attempting to salvage an unhappy, dysfunctional or unsustainable marriage can sometimes worsen a couple’s marital problems. Michigan residents should not hesitate to consider divorce as a potential solution to ongoing issues, such as when two spouses typical habits become significantly different.

Source: Huffington Post, “Couples’ Drinking Habits May Predict Likelihood Of Divorce, Study Finds” No author given, Nov. 22, 2013