Heavy Drinking Can Increase Divorce Risk by 50 Percent — Best Life


While you and your spouse might seem like a perfect match, that likely doesn’t mean you do everything together. And that’s not a bad thing—different personalities and interests could be what makes your relationship so steady. But there are times when seriously diverging habits can actually predict a future split. A study found that if your partner engages in one particular behavior and you don’t, your marriage could be headed for divorce. Read on to learn more about this signal of separation.

RELATED: If You Did This at Your Wedding, You’re More Likely to Get Divorced.

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In a 2013 study by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, and his team set out to discover how alcohol can affect a marriage. Data was collected from 634 couples, who were recently married when they joined the study. Couples were examined for the next nine years in order to determine if alcohol use could lead to divorce. If participants said that they drank six or more drinks at one time or were drinking until intoxication, this was defined as heavy drinking.

At the end of the nine years, researchers found that a marriage where one spouse was a heavy drinker and the other wasn’t is the most likely to split. In fact, 50 percent of couples where only one partner drank heavily ended up divorcing. However, for the couples where this wasn’t an issue, just 30 percent divorced.

RELATED: Using These Words Could Mean You’re Headed for Divorce, Study Says.

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Heavy drinking isn’t good for your body, but if partners have similar drinking habits, they may stick together, the 2013 study concluded. Compared to couples with two non-heavy drinkers, the divorce rate for two heavy drinkers stayed the same. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

“Heavy drinking spouses may be more tolerant of negative experiences related to alcohol due to their own drinking habits,” Leonard said in a press release. “While two heavy drinkers may not divorce, they may create a particularly bad climate for their children.”

Woman holding a glass of wine
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Over the years, many different researchers have explored how alcohol and drinking routines can be connected to divorce. In a 2013 study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Fartein A. Torvik and his team examined 19,977 married couples in a Norwegian county. Respondents went into detail about their alcohol use in order to discover how likely these couples were to divorce over the next 15 years.

Results found that when the wife in the relationship is a heavy drinker, the divorce rate is higher than when the husband is a heavy drinker. Similar to Leonard and his team, Torvik found that two non-drinkers and two-heavy drinkers have a lower risk of divorce.

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In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1,805 married couples were evaluated to discover the relationship between marital experiences and externalizing disorders, including alcohol dependence. After a diagnostic interview, 126 women and 514 men reported three or more symptoms of this condition. Ultimately, data showed that high levels of alcohol dependence were associated with poor marital adjustment for both partners.

As noted by WebMD, alcohol dependence is also known as alcohol use disorder. Symptoms include an inability to control how much you drink, consuming alcohol regardless of consequences, or making attempts to cut back from drinking, which haven’t worked.

RELATED: If You and Your Spouse Do This Together, You’re 3.5 Times More Likely to Divorce.



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