Married women drink more than both divorced and widowed women, the researchers claim, while married men drink less than single, divorced or widowed men. This is because each partner’s drinking habits affect the other after marriage: men drink less after tying the knot because women typically drink less than men, while women, in turn, are affected by their partner’s heavier drinking habits.
Lead researcher Corinne Reczek is a professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati. She said: “Stable marriage curbs men’s drinking yet is associated with a slightly higher level of alcohol use among women. Our findings suggest that being married to a man who is more likely to drink creates a new social environment that may promote drinking among women.”
Men, meanwhile, typically increase their drinking again after divorce – with recently divorced men consuming “a significantly greater average number of drinks than men in long-term marriages.”.
This behaviour is a reaction to stress, Reczek believes. “Some research suggests that men are more likely to cope with stressors in ‘externalising’ ways such as alcohol. Women are more likely to cope in ‘internalising’ ways such as depression.”
Married men who cut back on their drinking are more likely to have a happy relationship, says the professor.
“Men who fail to converge with their wives’ drinking habits in marriage may set a trajectory towards divorce and continued heavy drinking.”
The finding s were based on analyses of three existing population studies.
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