A recent study published in The Journals of Gerontology showed that older couples with similar drinking habits reported less negative feedback on their marriage over time. In other words, couples who drink together stay (happily) together, according to the research.
The study took reports from 2,767 married couples (who had been married for 33 years, on average) who participated in a health and retirement survey. The results demonstrated that couples who imbibed together were happier:
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.
The data’s very interesting. But there’s no definitive answer as to why couples who have similar drinking habits wind up being happier together.
“We think that the takeaway is that it appears couples with similar drinking habits are less irritated with one another,” study author Kira Birditt, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, told Men’s Journal. “Of course we can only speculate why this is the case. It could be that they have similar social and leisure interests.”
But that doesn’t mean you have to get drunk to have a happy marriage. (In fact, that could have the opposite effect).
“The study shows that it’s not about how much they’re drinking, it’s about whether they drink at all,” Birditt told Reuters.
According to an article written by Dr. Joseph Nowinski for the Huffington Post, drinking can be a leading cause for friction between spouses as well.
“Over my 25 years of experience as a psychologist, I gradually came to realize that drinking may be one of the most common yet least talked about causes of marital conflict,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, in the couples I’ve worked with this issue is often swept under the carpet.”
So, it makes sense that something that could easily tear your relationship apart could also bring you together.
Getting on the same page about alcohol with your partner could be better for your relationship in the long run. So whether you rarely make time to share a glass of wine with your better half or if the two of you drink too much to maintain a healthy relationship, it’s important to have conversations about alcohol—when you’re sober.
If you’re wondering what a “healthy” amount of alcohol for you and your parter is, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ advice is to not have more than 14 units (NOT 14 drinks!) of alcohol per week. This chart shows what that looks like:
So, instead of going out separately with friends—maybe stay in and share a drink tonight. It’s a relatively easy (and fun!) investment to make in your marriage. Just be sure not to overdo it.