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A Toast to Marriage and Alcohol Statistics

marriage and alcohol statsWhat can we really say about alcohol that hasn’t been said already? Alcohol can be part of your most embarrassing memory, be the center of controversy, cause you to be violently ill, and be a symbol of class and sophistication, all at the same time. This tricky substance has been associated with celebrations, ceremonies, and debauchery since the first greek accidentally stomped on a bunch of ripe grapes. But now, this mystical elixir is being associated with divorce; as it turns out, your relationship with alcohol may end your relationship with your spouse.


A monolith Norwegian study reported that married couples with varying patterns of alcohol consumption are more likely to divorce than married couples with the same patterns of alcohol consumption. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health studied 19,977 Norwegian married couples for a period of 15 years before they drew their conclusions.

The following are the reported findings from the study:

  • Marriages with two heavy drinkers had a divorce rate of 17.2%
  • Marriages with the husband drinking heavily had a divorce rate of 13.1%
  • Marriage with the wife drinking heavily had a divorce rate of 26.8%

The gender-based skewing of the data lends itself to much social commentary and speculation. Norwegian researchers involved in the study speculate the high divorce rate in marriages with heavy-drinking wives may be due to a number of things, including the wife’s typical role as homemaker and caretaker, and social intolerance of females imbibing.

Whatever the reasons behind the statistics that will no doubt cause a flurry of social commentary on both sides, it is clear Western society cannot keep it’s cool around alcohol.

What’s Love (and Gender) Got to Do With It?

Most people think single people consume more alcohol than married people, but it turns out that is only partially correct. The variables involved are gender and marital status.

Sociologists gathered research from 5,305 men and women from Wisconsin between the years 1993 and 2004, and found a number of surprising results:

  • Married women drink more than single women, widows, and married men. Researchers believe this is for two reasons: 1) Single women tend to drink less than single men; 2) Married men drink less because they traded drinking buddies for a wife, and as a result the wife tends to drink more than she did previously.
  • Divorced men drink significantly more after divorce than women. Researchers contribute this to the fact that men tend to externalize stress (like binge drinking), while women internalize the stress (usually by falling into depression).

The liquid in those bottles you have under lock and key, or way up high in the cabinet, can cause so much more than social lubrication and relaxation after a hard day’s work. However, alcohol consumption is a personal choice, and a part of a person’s lifestyle; so we ask Swedish researchers, is it really big news that an alcohol abstainer and an “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” believer have a hard time making their marriage work?

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