Drinking and Divorce

A new study out of the University of Buffalo’s Department of Community Health and Health Behavior found that couples in which one spouse was a heavier drinker than another spouse had a higher divorce rate than couples in which both spouses drank roughly an equal amount. Kenneth Leonard, lead author for the study, found that drinking becomes a problem not from the act of drinking alcohol itself, but rather when there is a disparity in amounts consumed between the partners. A video of Leonard explaining the study can be found here.

  alcohol and divorce IMAGEHeavy Drinking Not a Cause

Although it may seem likely that divorce rates would be higher when one spouse excessively drinks alcohol while another spouse does not, it may be surprising to some readers that the study showed the divorce rate for two heavy drinkers was roughly equal to that of two light drinkers. Leonard and his team also discovered that divorce rates were slightly higher when the heavy drinker was the wife, as opposed to the husband. The team was cautious to note that the study was limited in size and scope, and the difference in divorce rates between male and female heavy-drinkers could be attributed to classic notions of gender roles.

 Not the First Study Done

The University of Buffalo’s study on drinking alcohol and its effects on marriage is not the only one in existence. An article in the Huffington Post explains that researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health studied data from roughly 20,000 married couples and came to similar conclusions: spouses who consumed roughly the same amount of alcohol had a decreased chance of divorcing from those that drank different amounts.

Additionally, the American Sociological Association examined marriage in relation to alcohol consumption and discovered that long-term marriage decreased men’s drinking habits, and slightly increased the amount of alcohol consumed among women. The study argued that this could be because many women lived with men who had higher levels of alcohol consumption. After a divorce, the study claimed, men were more likely to turn to increased levels of drinking than their female counterparts.

If you or someone you know is considering divorcing a spouse because of a substance abuse problem, or simply because your life-styles do not match, remember that you are not alone. As these studies show, there are many other couples exactly like you.  If you are considering a divorce contact an experienced DuPage divorce attorney today.

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