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Your lifestyle, your quirk
Does marriage drive women to drink? According to a recent study, men cut back on their drinking once they’re married while women tend to hit the bottle after their vows. Happily married men tend to drink less than their unmarried, widowed, or divorced counterparts, while married females drink more. Even so, men drink more than women overall – despite married women increasing their alcohol intake, they still aren’t drinking as much as their husbands.
A group of sociologists led by assistant professor Corinne Reczek of the University of Cincinnati conducted the study, which looked at thousands of people living is Wisconsin. Data was taken from a long-running behavior survey as well as 120 interviews about lifestyle with married, single, widowed, and divorced people.
Researchers found that men drink more overall than women, and are more likely to suffer from alcohol addiction. Happily married men tended to drink less than any other group of males. The biggest shift in male drinking habits happens after a divorce: there was a marked increase in drinking habits between happily married men and recently divorced males. This suggests that men turn to alcohol to deal with a divorce, but I would also speculate that it also has to do with getting back into the dating and bar scene and socializing with friends.
The pattern was the opposite in women. Alcoholic intake increased during marriage but decreased again after divorce. Researchers believe that “men introduce and prompt women’s drinking, and because divorced women lose the influence of men’s alcohol use upon dissolution.” Basically, women drink more to keep up with their husbands. Is this the peer pressure we were warned about in high school?
The researchers figure that “marriage changes the social condition of men’s lives in ways that promote lower alcohol use.” This could mean that it is more acceptable for men not to drink when they are married. Basically, it seems like drinking habits become a compromise where both spouses adjust their drinking habits so that they are on a similar level, much like many aspects of a successful marriage.
Past studies, like one that came out of Cardiff University last year, have found that married people tend to live longer. The Cardiff study found that married people were more likely to eat healthily than those with another marital status and were 15 percent less likely to die prematurely. If single men tend to drink a lot, perhaps sobering up is part of the healthy lifestyle that keeps married people alive longer.
The study didn’t look at homosexual couples, which raises some questions: do male couples’ drinking habits change once they settle down? Would a lesbian couple drink only rarely? Articles covering the study, which was presented at the American Sociological Association on August 18, made no mention of whether the people involved had children and what effect, if any, that had on drinking.
Not only does this study make an interesting anecdote, it practically writes its own jokes about women being driven to drink by marriage.