Study: Married Women Drink More, Married Men Drink Less

One study covered a 47-year period in the lives of 5,000 Wisconsin residents tells us that people tend to drink at the levels of those around them.

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Marriage might make men hunker down and sober up, but tying the knot has the opposite effect on women, according to new research.

Married women are more likely to drink than their unmarried counterparts - single, divorced, or widowed - says Corinne Reczek of the University of Cincinnati. Men, on the other hand, are less likely to drink when they're married.

"We suspect that men and women may converge in marriage," Reczek told the Daily News. "Wherein women's alcohol use is higher due to the influence of their drinking husbands, while men's declines due to their wives, who tend to drink more moderately."

Reczek and colleagues presented their findings at last weekend's American Sociological Association meeting in Denver.

For their research, they studied data from three separate surveys, including one long-term survey that provided information on more than 5,000 Wisconsin residents' alcohol habits, gathered four times during a 47-year period.

Researchers noted that overall, men drink more than women, and that women's increased drinking after marriage might be an attempt to match their husband's habits.

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Reczek says she was shocked by the finding that married women drink more than those who are divorced or never married, which "flies in the face of what we thought we knew about marriage and alcohol."

Richard Ager, associate professor at New Orleans' Tulane School of Social Work, says he isn't surprised.

"People tend to do what others in the same flock do, if you spend more time with individuals that have a higher incidence of doing drugs or alcohol you will develop similar habits," Ager told ABC News.

"People tend to engage in the behaviors of people they surround themselves with."

As women drink more to match their men, men in turn tone it down and imbibe less - especially those who are happily married, according to the research.

The study also looked at what happens when marriage goes wrong. Divorced men reported drinking far more alcohol than married men, while divorced women drank less than married women.

"Men who divorce may cope with stress using alcohol use, wherein women are shown to cope with stress in more internalizing ways, including depression," Reczek said.

Written by Rheana Murray / New York Daily News