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  • Voltaire Staff

Couples who drink together, stay together, study finds

Couples who share a drinking habit may also share a longer life together, a research has claimed.

According to a recent study conducted by University of Michigan researchers, couples who exhibit similar drinking behaviours, where both partners consume alcohol, tend to have longer lifespans.

The study, published in The Gerontologist, found its inspiration from a theory in alcohol literature known as "the drinking partnership."

The theory suggests that couples with similar patterns of alcohol consumption experience better marital outcomes, including reduced conflict and longer-lasting marriages.

"The purpose of this study was to look at alcohol use in couples in the Health and Retirement Study and the implications for mortality," Kira Birditt, corresponding author of the study, said, according to the university's website.

"And we found, interestingly, that couples in which both indicated drinking alcohol in the last three months lived longer than the other couples that either both indicated not drinking or had discordant drinking patterns in which one drank and the other did not," she added.

While extensive research has explored how couples' drinking habits affect their marriages, the impact on health remains uncertain.

Birditt stressed that behaviours beneficial for marriage may not necessarily promote good health. Despite the notion suggesting increased drinking with one's spouse, Birditt advised against such an interpretation.

The study defined "drinking" broadly as whether a participant had consumed alcohol in the past three months.

It found that concordant drinking among couples might reflect compatibility in lifestyles, intimacy, and relationship satisfaction.

"We’ve also found in other studies that couples who drink together tend to have better relationship quality, and it might be because it increases intimacy," Birditt said.

However, she conceded that it was not apparent from the findings as to why drinking together had such an impact of marital bliss.

"We don’t know why both partners drinking is associated with better survival. I think using the other techniques that we use in our studies in terms of the daily experiences and ecological momentary assessment questionnaires could really get at that to understand, for example, focusing on concordant drinking couples," she said.

"What are their daily lives like? Are they drinking together? What are they doing when they are drinking?

"There is also little information about the daily interpersonal processes that account for these links. Future research should assess the implications of couple drinking patterns for daily marital quality, and daily physical health outcomes," she said.



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