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.