Posted on Feb 26, 2013

While research has established that alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence is associated with higher divorce rates, a new study has found that simply drinking a different amount than your spouse could increase your chances of a failed marriage.

According to a new divorce study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, married couples who have differing drinking habits also have higher divorce rates. In addition, couples in which both couples do not consume much alcohol have the lowest rate of divorce.

The study followed almost 20,000 married couples over 15 years of their relationship, tracking both spouses’ alcohol consumption as well as the state of the couple’s marriage. The study found that couples who drank similar amounts were more likely to stay together, while those who drank disparate amounts were more likely to encounter conflict and ultimately divorce.

Researchers believe that couples that both drink heavily are more likely to understand each other’s drinking habits and shortcomings, while couples that both drink rarely don’t run into the troubles associated with alcohol consumption. When one spouse drinks more than the other, however, divorce rates are higher—probably because of a lack of understanding and tolerance. The couples with the highest divorce rates had a wife that drank significantly more than the husband.

The bottom line may be that couples with similar habits are more likely to understand each other and stay together, even if their habits are ones that generally harm marriages or cause divorce. Although drinking has been linked with divorce, drinking a different amount than your spouse may be the more important factor.

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Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington