From a dreamy honeymoon and greater life satisfaction, to more practical tax benefits, there are lots of advantages of tying the knot. Now researchers have discovered another surprising benefit of marriage – happy couples drink less alcohol than their single peers.
They found those who were married tended to drink alcohol less frequently while health benefit was also seen for men who were cohabiting with partners.
As well as drinking less frequently, marriage causes couples to cut down on binge drinking – with the exception of some married men, who are bigger binge drinkers than males cohabiting with a partner.
Researchers from the University of Virginia quizzed 2,425 pairs of male and female twins from the state of Washington about how often and how much they drink.
When they looked at twins where one was married and the other single, they found married men and women tend to drink less than those who were single or divorced.
They wrote: ‘Our evidence suggests that individuals drink the most, in frequency and quantity, when they are single.
‘Drinking goes down significantly, both in frequency and quantity, after marriage.’
They also discovered that getting married seems to cause both men and women to drink less in one sitting – perhaps as they don’t rely on ‘Dutch courage’ to strike up conversations with strangers.
The study does not, however, reveal precisely how much marriage causes people to cut down on boozing, but the difference between married and single twins is not thought to be dramatic, The Washington Post reported.
It also stops short of explaining why married couples drink less, but previous studies have suggested married partners may monitor each other’s behaviour, and encourage good habits.
The researchers wrote: ‘Alcohol use patterns did not differ among married and cohabiting twins’ – those who were perhaps in earlier stages of a relationship or otherwise chose not to get married.
‘These findings provide strong evidence that intimate relationships cause a decline in alcohol consumption.’
Interestingly, the study says married male twins are more likely to binge drink than those who are cohabiting with a partner – perhaps because those in a newer relationship are more likely to be on their best behaviour.
They found specifically that married identical male twins drank ‘significantly’ more per occasion than their cohabiting twins.
The researchers wrote: ‘When compared with marriage, cohabitation presents an interesting picture.
‘Cohabiting men and women drink more frequently than married men and women, but quantity-wise cohabiting men drink less whereas women do not differ significantly.’
They continued: ‘After controlling for genetic and environmental selection effects, the differences between marriage and cohabitation were non significant for women and, interestingly, produced a contrast effect in men in which married men drank more than unmarried ones.’
Surprisingly, the effects of divorce on the twins’ alcohol consumption were not as extreme as one might fear.
The study revealed that while parting ways didn’t cause participants to drink more often, they were more likely to sink more alcoholic drinks in one sitting.
‘Following marital dissolution, both men and women experience and increase in drinking quantity, but their drinking frequency does not change, possibly because their drinking frequency habits stabilize after having been married,’ the researchers explained.
The researchers wrote: ‘The present study is the first genetically informed study of marriage to examine drinking frequency and drinking quantity separately.’
‘However, it is impossible to ascertain whether married participants were exposed to unmeasured influences, such as an upbringing,’ they admitted.
For example, many other experiences and lifestyle choices could influence twin’s drinking habits aside from being married, and twins may not be representative of the general public.
The sample of people was also taken from only one state – which may differ to other states and other countries.
Another study recently claimed couples with the same drinking habits tend to be happier than those where only one partner drinks.
Whether they are heavy drinkers or tee-total, women in particular become dissatisfied if they drink and their husband doesn’t, researchers from the University of Michigan said.
The amount people consumed was less important than whether both partners had the same habit of drinking or not drinking, they added.
Source Mail Online UK