Women may find themselves drinking a lot more alcohol once they're married or living with their long term partner, according to recent research, while men tend to lessen their intake of drink when they're married.
While previous studies have suggested that married people tend to drink less, this study showed a different side to tying the knot - married women drink more than all types of single women, presumably because they are influenced by their partner's alcohol intake. It was shown that men typically drink more than women.
Men, on the other hand, tend to reduce their alcohol intake during marriage, but increase their intake after divorce. The results gave insight into our relationship status and how we have an influence on each other, while how much we drink during a break-up has more to do with our need to find a coping mechanism.
The study, conducted by the University of Cincinnati, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University and the University of Texas at Austin, looks at the alcohol consumption of married and single people, making a distinction between those who are single ie. never married, divorced or widowed.
Analysing data from over 5300 men and women's questionnaire answers during 1993 and 2004 based on drinking habits and whether or not they had drinking problems, the scientists then combined this quantitative data with 120 qualitative interviews of men and women with different marital statuses.
An increase in drinking among divorced men and a decline in drinking in all single women suggests a difference in coping mechanisms among the two sexes. Women typically abstained from alcohol and food during divorce, "weight loss and changes in diet were a large component of how women described transitioning to divorce," explained lead researcher Corinne Reczek.
In spite of a decline in drinking, many divorced women were likely to report having had a drinking problem. Reczek tried to make sense of this contradiction by suggesting that women may see themselves as previously having drinking problems due to their association with a partner who struggled with a drinking problem.
"Men's alcohol use and overall health benefits from women's influence in marriage, while women's alcohol use is increased with marriage, possibly resulting in lower rates of well-being for these women," said Reczek in an email to LiveScience.