Well that’s a loaded headline isn’t it?
I mean, yes, many people – couples included – are happy when they drink. But does that mean couples are happier together while drinking, or happier all the time because they go out drinking as a positive, healthy leisure activity?
Are they drinking together or separately? With mates or alone? And what about when they’re all crabby and hungover eating leftover pizza for breakfast?
Also, surely it depends on the type of drink? As many people can attest, different types of drink can have very different effects on your mood.
Hopefully, the people behind this study can set some things straight for me.
Published in The Journals of Gerontology, researchers set out to find the correlation between drinking patterns and marital quality, particularly among older couples.
The study found that:
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.
Basically, if the husband and wife are both drinking in moderation, they’re both happy. If it’s just the wife drinking, she is less happy. Pretty much any episode of Eastenders could’ve told you that, but here we are.
Of course, as with all things drinking related, the amount of alcohol consumed is important.
The research’s findings stressed the importance of the drinking status (why, where and when) rather than the amount of alcohol consumed when looking at marital quality.
In other words, just the one drink together is far better for your happiness as a couple than getting absolutely pajamaed together.
The study said:
These findings are particularly salient given the increased drinking among baby boomers and the importance of marital quality for health among older couples.
Again, quantity is crucial here, over-doing it on the booze is never a good idea for anyone and alcohol should only ever be consumed responsibly.
The study analysed 4,864 mixed participants who had all been married for an average of 33 years.
Speaking to Reuters, Dr. Kira Birditt of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said:
We’re not suggesting that people should drink more or change the way they drink, but it could be that couples that do more leisure time activities together have better marital quality.
The study shows that it’s not about how much they’re drinking, it’s about whether they drink at all.
Birditt also speculated that spouses can have a huge impact on each other, especially when they’re older. She suggested that when one spouse stops drinking, the other should too.
Of course, heavy drinkers, with issues relating to alcohol, were not factored in to the study.
Dr Fred Blow, also from the University of Michigan, said:
Problem drinkers are a whole different kettle of fish. Serious heavy drinkers have disruptive relationships with people, particularly their partners. That’s an important issue that should be looked at going forward.
As always, please drink responsibly.
If you want to discuss any issues relating to alcohol in confidence contact Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 for advice and support.
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