Marriage Makes Women Drink More, Says Science

What a surprise!By Lauren Passell for HowAboutWe

What a surprise -- that cute stereotype of married men taking out their old ball and chain frustration by boozing it up at the local pub is nonsense. Scientists are claiming that (a happy) marriage actually leads guys to a more sober lifestyle, drinking less than their single guy friends and way less than their divorced male friends. The same is not true for married women, who apparently drink more than their single, divorced and widowed friends.

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In the past research has confirmed that men usually drink more than women and are more likely to become alcoholics, and that married couples drink less as they settle into their more relaxed, domestic lifestyle. But this is the first time researchers have broken out that data to differentiate behavior in males vs. females. "Our qualitative results suggest this occurs because men introduce and prompt women's drinking, and because divorced women lose the influence of men's alcohol use upon dissolution," they concluded.

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That is one way to look at it. One could also argue that marriage is more stressful for some women -- being thrown into the role of wife and caretaker of the household (something that happens not always but often), all while keeping the job she had before all of this happened, is stressful. And if a newly married woman put her career aside and is unsatisfied with her responsibilities of running the household for two, that could cut her self esteem, as well. This is old news, but even moms are starting to binge drink more, and that is believed to be stress-related. Because when you're super stressed and feeling alone, alcohol is there with open arms. I would like to think that in a happy, equal marriage, both partners are less stressed and drink less because they have each other to run to, instead of the bottle. (Or, I guess, that they are drinking more but in a really happy, fun, and healthy way.) A study on happily married couples' drinking habits would be interesting -- but how would you screen for that? By how many cute photos they have of themselves holding their dogs on hay rides? How many times they say "No you shut up I love YOU more" during phone conversations? Is that what happily married people do?

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There are a million ways to interpret these numbers, all pointing to the complicated ways men and women cope in relationships. Which obviously can't be simplified to how much they're drinking. Vodka for thought, anyway.