Many couples are snatching up dinner reservations as Valentine’s Day creeps closer, but the amount of alcohol consumed on these dates may indicate how successful the relationship will be in the long term.

The Study

A new study out of Norway collected data from nearly 20,000 married couples, and researchers uncovered some interesting information as it pertains to alcohol consumption between spouses.

Drinking the same amount as your partner can lead to higher compatibility, although there were still elevated divorce rates when both spouses reported heavy alcohol consumption.  Below are some of the findings.

  • In couples where the wife was the heavy drinker and the husband was the light drinker, the divorce rate was 26.8%.
  • In couples where the husband was the heavy drinker and the wife was the light drinker, the divorce rate was 13.1%
  • In couples where both members were heavy drinkers, the divorce rate was 17.2%.
  • In couples where both members were light drinkers, the divorce rate was only 5.8%.

Lead researcher Fartein Ask Torvik, who developed the study, offered numerous ideas as to why heavy drinking in women led to increased divorce rates.  Ask Torvik speculated that women seem to be more strongly affected by alcohol, which could impair them and increase the risk of infidelity or physical confrontation.  He also noted that heavy drinking “may be judged as incompatible with female roles,” which would threaten martial stability.

Norwegian Institute of Public Health director Ellinor F. Major said the study was “of major interest”, and she was specifically intrigued by the findings surrounding women who drank heavily.

“Couples who intend to marry should be aware of the drinking pattern of their partner, since it may become a problem in the future,” Major said.  “The best approach might be for husbands and wives to strive for matching amounts of light or moderate drinking, she said.

Related source:  Los Angeles Times