Researchers match marriage survival with compatibility when a couple cry “bottoms up”

Ah, so The Grumbles perhaps have a mystery to sort out.

Mrs Grumble, you see, tends to be a very modest consumer of liquor who disapproves of those who get – how shall we put it? Let’s say slightly tipsy.

Alf, on the other hand, is an enthusiastic devotee of good scotch, but he will settle for bad scotch if the good stuff is not on tap, or for most drinks containing alcohol, although he has steered clear of methylated spirits and his Uncle Bernie’s home brew.

Mrs Grumble likes to stay at home watching Coro Street, and stuff like that. Alf would rather mosey down to the Eketahuna Club and scuttle some suds with his mates.

So how come he and Mrs Grumble remain happily married?

The question is raised by research (reported here) which shows couples who drink together stay together.

It found the divorce rate was 13.1% among couples where the husband drank more than the wife but it was double that when the wife was the heavier drinker

When you toast your other half this Valentine’s Day, here’s hoping you don’t finish off the bottle on your own.

For a new study has found that couples who drink similar amounts are more compatible.

This is a study of nearly 20,000 married couples and it revealed that husbands and wives who both consumed a moderate intake of alcohol were far less likely to divorce than couples where one was a heavy drinker.

Just 5.8 per cent of couples who were lighter drinkers ended up splitting up from their long-term partners, according to the study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The highest divorce rate – 26.8 per cent – was in couples where the husband was a light-drinker while the wife went on binges.

The answer to the Grumbles’ marriage perhaps lies here –

However, it seems women are more forgiving, as when the roles were reversed the divorce rate halved to 13.1 per cent.

Researcher Fartein Ask Torvik, said there were several explanations for the disparity.

‘One of them is that women in general seem to be more strongly affected by heavy drinking than men are. Thus, heavy-drinking women may be more impaired than heavy-drinking men,’ he said.

Co-author Ellinor Major, added: ‘Heavy drinking among women is also less acceptable than among men in our society.

‘A wife’s heavy drinking probably also interferes more with general family life – that is, the caring role of the mother, upbringing of children, etc. Perhaps the husband is more apt to the leave the spouse than is the wife when major problems occur.’

For what it’s worth, when both husband and wife were heavy drinkers the divorce rate of the Norwegian couples was 17.2 per cent.

‘Essentially, the more people drink, the higher is the risk of divorce,’ said Torvik.

‘In addition, the risk of divorce is lowered if the spouses drink approximately the same amount of alcohol.

‘This is not only true for those who drink excessively – there is also a reduced risk of divorce if both spouses abstain totally from alcohol.’

This Major sheila said heavy drinking was a great public health concern in Western societies and put a strain on relationships.

‘It often leads to dysfunctional marriages and divorces. The present study adds to our understanding of the predictive value of alcohol use, and particularly of discordant alcohol consumption for marital dissolution,’ he said.

Alf has concluded from this that he is not a heavy drinker.

Just a zealous one.

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