Drinking habits increase risk of divorce

Marriages in which one partner drinks more than the other are more likely to end in divorce, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health analysed data from a sample of almost 20,000 married couples, looking for risk factors associated with divorce over a 15 year period.

Researcher Fartein Ask Torvik said:

“Essentially, the more people drink, the higher is the risk of divorce. In addition, the risk of divorce is lowered if the spouses drink approximately the same amount of alcohol. This is not only true for those who drink excessively — there is also a reduced risk of divorce if both spouses abstain totally from alcohol. Also, we found heavy drinking among women to be more strongly associated with divorce than heavy drinking among men.”

The risk of divorce is roughly tripled when the husband in a marriage drinks lightly while the wife drinks more heavily when compared with marriages in which partners drink lightly, say the researchers.

Torvik speculates: “There are several possible explanations for this. One of them is that women in general seem to be more strongly affected by heavy drinking than men are. Thus, heavy-drinking women may be more impaired than heavy-drinking men.”

Heavy drinking amongst women is also less socially accepted than it is amongst men, the researchers note.

Couples intending to marry should try to harmonise their drinking patterns, the study suggests, in order to decrease the likelihood of divorce.

Photo by Laura Taylor via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

View more from this author

Leave a comment