A November 2013 University of Buffalo study discovered a correlation between couple’s drinking habits and the likelihood of divorce. Researchers followed 634 newlywed couples over nine years of marriage and found that spouse’s alcohol consumption patterns and compatibility had an affect on the strength of their marriage. Nearly half the couples where only one partner drank heavily–defined as six or more drinks at one time–divorced by the conclusion of the study. In couples where each partner’s drinking habits were similar the divorce rates fell to 35 percent.
“Our results indicate that it is the difference between the couple’s drinking habits rather than the drinking itself that leads to marital dissatisfaction, separation and divorce.” Lead author of the study, Kenneth Leonard said in a statement. “Couples who have similar heavy drinking patterns are more likely to stay together.” The study provides evidence that heavy drinking by one partner can lead to divorce, which may provide insight for marriage therapists and mental health practitioners exploring whether drinking habit differences may be causing conflicts between couples.
In February 2013, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health released results of nearly 20,000 married couples information on alcohol use and mental distress, analyzed from a health study conducted between 1984-1986. The study looked at the risk for divorce in the following 15 years to similar conclusions. “Couples who intend to marry should be aware of the drinking pattern of their partner since it may become a problem in the future,” advises Elinor F. Major, director of the division of mental health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.