Norwegian study links heavy drinking to divorce

When it comes to alcohol consumption and divorce, couples that drink together, stay together. A study that analyzed divorce among nearly 20,000 married couples in Norway found that compatibility as drinkers may keep couples together. Given the size and scope of the analysis, the study findings might likely be of interest and relevance throughout the United States, including in Georgia.

Researchers found, as a general proposition, that couples were more likely to stay together when each spouse consumed about the same amount of alcohol. When one spouse is a heavy drinker and the other is not, divorce is more likely, as it also is when the wife is the heavier drinker in a marriage. Results of the study were published in the online edition of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Generally speaking, divorce was also more common when both spouses were heavy drinkers. More than 17 percent of heavy-drinking couples got divorced, compared to 13.1 percent of couples where the husband drank significantly more than his wife and a 26.8 percent divorce rate when the wife was the big drinker in the marriage. When both spouses are light drinkers, the divorce rate is just 5.8 percent.

Analysts are intrigued that couples with the highest risk for divorce were those with a light-drinking husband and a heavy-drinking wife. They speculated that drinking may affect women in different ways because of their relatively lighter body weight and that society generally has a greater tolerance for heavy-drinking men. It is postulated that views of the general population carry over into the marriage.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Heavy drinking, ‘incompatible’ drinking tied to divorce, study says,” Eryn Brown, Feb. 6, 2013

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