Being the sober person at a party doesn't amount to a ton of fun. What once felt like a great time with a cup of booze in your hand is magically transformed into a sad, sloppy affair when you're back on the wagon. But what's even less fun than babysitting your drunken friends at a bar is being the sober person in a 30-year marriage while your spouse is out getting hammered every night.
According to a recent study from the Journals of Gerontology B: Psychology Sciences, the link between drinking habits and happy, long-lasting marriages is actually stronger than we might have thought. After polling 2,767 couples that had been married for an average of 33 years, researchers found that more than half of the partners got drunk together and ultimately reported feeling more content in their relationships.
Two-thirds of the participants were in their first marriage and all of the spouses were asked to assess how demanding, critical, and irritating they found their significant others.
"We're not sure why this is happening," Dr. Kira Birditt, a researcher with the University of Michigan who authored the study, told Reuters. "But it could be that couples that do more leisure time activities together have better marital quality."
Before you run out to the liquor store and cancel your couple's therapy sessions, spouses who abstained from drinking together also faired well in the study. The only group that ran into real trouble were those who had incompatible drinking habits—relationships where one person would consistently stay sober while the other got either tipsy or full-on wasted. The study also found that women were more dissatisfied when they drank and not their husbands.
“We’re not suggesting that people should drink more or change the way they drink," Dr. Birditt added.
Unsurprisingly, problem drinkers and those with serious alcohol abuse issues didn't find marital bliss in the bottom of a bottle regardless of their spouses habits. The study polled men and women over the age of 50, and found that drinking among baby boomers had become an increasingly large issue because the generation tends to be "more accepting of alcohol use."
“Problem drinkers are a whole different kettle of fish,” Fred Blow, another researcher on the study, told Reuters. “Serious heavy drinkers have disruptive relationships with people, particularly their partners. That’s an important issue that should be looked at going forward.”
In other words, getting trashed every night might not bring about a marital utopia, but a romantic glass of wine or two with dinner can't hurt.