Drink up, couples of the world — it may save your relationship.
People are constantly trying to find new methods and hidden secrets behind the success of a relationship. Is it understanding? Courtesy? Patience? Turns out it’s alcohol.
According to a study published in The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Series, couples who drink alcohol together reported a less negative relationship quality over time, and the results were “significantly greater among wives.”
The study found that couples over the age 50 had better marriages if both partners drank or if both partners abstained from drinking. However, if one person in the relationship remained sober while the other drank, couples were more likely to report of an unsatisfied marriage, especially wives.
“Wives who reported drinking alcohol reported decreased negative marital quality over time when husbands also reported drinking and increased negative marital quality over time when husbands reported not drinking,” a summary of the results says.
According to Reuters, researchers surveyed 4,864 married people in 2,767 couples who have been together for an average of 33 years, two thirds of which were on their first marriage. The study asked participants how many times per week they drank, and how much they threw down their gullet once they started. Then researchers asked if they found their spouse “irritating, critical or too demanding.”
“We’re not sure why this is happening,” Dr. Kira Birditt of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Reuters, “but it could be that couples that do more leisure time activities together have better marital quality.”
“The study shows that it’s not about how much they’re drinking, it’s about whether they drink at all,” Birditt said.
But just because they’re happier doesn’t mean there aren’t problems.
Birditt says that drinking among older people is becoming a bigger problem, “especially among baby boomers, who seem more accepting of alcohol use.”
But don’t go too hard, because approximately 20 percent of men and 6 percent of women in the study had significant drinking problems.
“[S]erious heavy drinkers have disruptive relationships with people, particularly their partners,” University of Michigan’s Dr. Fred Blow told Reuters, although he’s not involved in the study. “That’s an important issue that should be looked at going forward.”