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Couples in which only one partner drinks are more likely to divorce

Married couples in which only one partner drinks heavily are more likely to divorce than those in which both do, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the Research Institute on Addictions at the University of Buffalo followed 634 couples through the first nine years of their marriage.

Nearly 50 per cent of those couples in which only one partner drank heavily – defined as six or more drinks in one session – divorced during the nine years. By contrast, only 30 per cent of other couples divorced – including those in which both partners drink heavily and those in which neither do.

Lead researcher Kenneth Leonard said:

“This research provides solid evidence to bolster the commonplace notion that heavy drinking by one partner can lead to divorce. Although some people might think that’s a likely outcome, there was surprisingly little data to back up that claim until now.”

The fact that couples in which both couples drink heavily are no more likely to divorce than teetotallers was interesting, he added.

“Heavy drinking spouses might be more tolerant of negative experiences related to alcohol due to their own drinking habits.

But, he continued:

“While two heavy drinkers may not divorce, they may create a particularly bad climate for their children.”

The study is due to be published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviours.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Now there’s a surprise . . . here we go again with the bears and woods and the sh*t.

  2. Stitchedup says:

    Abuse partners tend to drink more heavily, whether in the shed or down the pub. Anything for a few minutes of peace.

  3. Andrew says:

    The effects of alcohol are disastrous to a marriage, and it is obvious why.

    However: I had a colleague, widowed chap, drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney, which in those days you could do in the office.

    Just after he retired somebody in the office got an invitation to come to the wedding, which was the first any of us knew that he was getting married again. We all wanted to know what sort of woman hitches her wagon to the star of an obvious alcoholic.

    And he told us and it was obvious.

    Another obvious alcoholic.

    They must have lived in a happily drunken haze together. She died first and he followed a month later after some twelve years together. Not a bad way to go!

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