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Is marriage driving women to drink?

A study says married men tend to cut down on their alcohol intake – while at the same time their wives drink more.

Marriage causes men to cut down on their alcohol intake - but their drinking habits rub off on their wives, who drink more.
Marriage causes men to cut down on their alcohol intake - but their drinking habits rub off on their wives, who drink more.
Image: Paul Faith/PA Archive

A NEW STUDY has found that married men tend to cut down on their alcohol intake – while their wives simultaneously increase their drinking.

Academics at the University of Cincinnati reviewed data from a long-running study of alcohol habits of thousands of people in Wisconsin, and come up with findings that contradict previous widely-held assumptions.

While other studies had found that marriage tends to coincide with a reduction in alcohol intake, those studies had not broken down alcohol intake among new husbands and wives – leading to the impression that marriage simply caused people to live healthier lives.

When alcohol consumption is broken down among genders, however, it emerged that married men – while drinking consistently more than women – still see their own intake drop significantly.

Surprisingly, though, it noticed that women acted in precisely opposite ways to men. When they got married, their drinking increased; if they were divorced, separated or widowed, it fell again.

“Our qualitative results suggest this occurs because men introduce and prompt women’s drinking, and because divorced women lose the influence of men’s alcohol use upon dissolution,” the Daily Telegraph quotes the research as saying.

“Additionally, our survey results show that continuously married men drink less than men in all other marital status groups, especially recently divorced men.”

Their suggestion for the marital drop in male drinking comes as a result of lifestyle changes which mean fewer chances for general socialising.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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