Study shows marriage stops men drinking – as their wives hit the bottle instead

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Marriage appears to drive women to drink but has the opposite effect on men, a study has suggested.

From The Telegraph

Far from encouraging men to patronise a local pub to escape from domestic duties, marriage actively reduces their alcohol intake, according to research being presented at the American Sociological Association today.

However, the effect on women of walking down the aisle appears to be the opposite.

The researchers found that married women generally drink more heavily than single women, widows or divorcees.

By contrast, men who are happily married drink less than their bachelor friends and significantly less than divorced men.

The reason, the researchers conclude, is that while women can help keep their husbands ’ drinking habits under control, men are simply a bad influence on their wives.

But past research has not further separated married and non-married groups by gender.

A group of sociologists led by Corinne Reczek, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, reviewed data from a long-running study of behaviour involving thousands of people in Wisconsin.

They also looked at a separate set of 120 interviews with married, divorced, widowed and single people about their lifestyles.

They found that while, overall, men consistently drink more than women and were more likely to have an alcohol problem, married men tended to drink significantly less than their male counterparts in every other marital status group.

They concluded that getting married or divorced had a  “dynamic relationship ” on drinking habits, but in very different ways for men and women.

The biggest difference in drinking levels was between men who were happily married and those who were recently divorced, suggesting that they turned to alcohol during their marital break-up.

Among women, the pattern was the opposite. Despite the stress of a break-up: divorced women generally drank less than those still with their husbands.

 “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.

 “Additionally, our survey results show that continuously married men drink less than men in all other marital status groups, especially recently divorced men. ”

They said this suggested that marriage changes the social condition of men ’s lives in ways that promote lower alcohol use, and that the stress of divorce promotes men ’s drinking.

Last year, a study by researchers at Cardiff University suggested that married people were more likely to eat healthily than other people and had a 15 per cent lower incidence of premature death.

The Office for National Statistics ’  “well-being ” study also found last year that married people were generally more content with their lives.