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Spouses’ Different Drinking Habits Can Endanger Marriage, Study Suggests

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Marriages in which one spouse drinks more than the other are more likely to end in divorce than unions in which both spouses drink a similar amount, Norwegian researchers have found. A couple’s risk of divorce could triple when the husband does not drink much, but the wife drinks heavily, HealthDay reports.

“The risk of divorce is lowered if the spouses drink approximately the same amount of alcohol,” said researcher Fartein Ask Torvik of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. “This is not only true for those who drink excessively, there is also a reduced risk of divorce if both spouses abstain totally from alcohol.”

Torvik noted that on average, divorced people tend to consume more alcohol than married people. “To some extent, this is due to increased drinking after a divorce, but people who drink heavily also have a higher risk of experiencing a divorce, so heavy drinking likely interferes fundamentally with the quality of marriage.”

The link between heavy drinking and divorce is stronger in women than in men, according to the study of almost 20,000 married couples. The researchers reported their findings in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Co-researcher Ellinor F. Major added, “Someone with a light or moderate alcohol use who has a spouse who drinks heavily should encourage that spouse to change their drinking pattern into a light or moderate level if the main concern is a lasting marriage of good quality. Good advice probably would be to encourage a similar pattern of moderate or light drinking in both spouses.”

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