Lowered alcohol intake can be added to the list of the benefits that come from being married. According to a new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, married couples tend to drink less than people who are not in a committed relationship. In fact, the correlation is so strong that if a couple splits up, the protective factors of the relationship go away and alcohol consumption increases.
“Our data revealed an interesting pattern where, once you’re in a committed relationship, your drinking frequency declines permanently, whereas quantity goes back up if you exit that relationship. It seems that intimate relationships may provide a real benefit in terms of drinking behavior, maybe through mechanisms such as a monitoring effect that partners have on each other,” explained Diana Dinescu, lead author of the study.
In order to eliminate questions of genetic predispositions and upbringing, the researchers decided to use only twins as their study subjects. Once the 1,618 female pairs and 807 male pairs were gathered, they were asked to fill out a survey. The survey consisted of questions regarding their relationship status and their alcohol consumption. The researchers were especially interested in twins because previous studies have already shown that married couples tend to drink less, but Dinescu’s research team was interested in finding out of people sharing the same genetic and familial backgrounds were effected differently.
Further research would have to be completed to determine exactly why marriage decreases the amount of alcohol consumed, but speculations abound. For example, the need they are seeking to fulfill, such as companionship and reassurance, are then found with their spouse rather than seeking it in the form of a synthetic feeling from alcohol. There is also the matter of nightlife being involved in the dating scene, which generally includes more alcohol consumption, so there would be less of that when someone is already married.
Unfortunately many young adults are still very impressionable and the messages they receive through pop culture condone heavy drinking and partying. For adult alcohol abuse prevention, programs and activities that change social norms can go a long way to reduce alcohol consumption levels such as binge drinking.