The couple that drinks together stays together. But so does the couple that abstains together.
Older married couples who share the same drinking habits tend to be happier than couples where only one partner drinks, according to new research from the University of Michigan.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly why this is true but speculate a couple’s shared drinking habits indicate that they are simpatico in lots of ways.
“We’re not sure why this is happening,” Dr. Kira Birditt told Reuters, “but it could be that couples that do more leisure time activities together have better marital quality.”
The results were based on interviews with 2,767 couples age 50-plus. Participants were asked about their drinking habits and various aspects of their marriage, including whether their spouse was supportive, too demanding, or too critical. In more than half the couples, both partners drank.
Interestingly, in couples where the wife drank and the husband didn’t the wives reported more dissatisfaction with the marriage than the husbands.
The study also uncovered an unsettled level of problem drinking among older couples. About 20% of the men in the survey had “significant drinking problems” as did 6% of the women. Birditt says Baby Boomers seem to be accepting of excessive alcohol consumption.
Because retired spouses seem to have a significant influence on each other – perhaps because they spend a lot of time together – Birditt believes that if one partner needs to stop drinking, the other should quit as well.