February 9, 2013

Study: Highest divorce rates among couples where wife is heavy drinker


Researchers reviewing data collected from 19,977 married couples in one county in Norway reported that spouses who consume about the same amount of alcohol are less likely to divorce  than pairs where one partner is a heavy drinker and the other is not.

This is especially true when the wife is the one doing the heavy drinking, according to a report published Tuesday in the online edition of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Among findings: Divorce is  more common in couples with high rates of alcohol consumption, and the highest divorce rates are found in couples where only the woman is  a heavy drinker.

Among couples where the wife reported being a heavy drinker and the husband a light drinker, the divorce rate was 26.8 percent. When the positions were switched, the divorce rate was 13.1 percent. In couples where both were heavy drinkers, the divorce rate was 17.2 percent.

Lead author of the study is Norwegian Institute of Public Health researcher Fartein Ask , who speculated that drinking in women ruins marriages for a couple of reasons. One reason, he posed, is that women seem to be affected more strongly by alcohol than many men. The team also wrote that drinking “may be judged as incompatible with female roles,”  and thus a particular threat to marital stability.

Couples in the study who both reported being light drinkers divorced just 5.8 percent of the time. Couples in recovery were not included in the study.

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