Does Marriage Cause Women to Drink?

Couple enjoying champagne

Some women may say that being married causes them to drink more because their spouses drive them crazy. Although this is usually spoken in humor, new research partially supports that claim. A study conducted by researchers from several universities found that married women consume more alcohol than single, divorced, or widowed women. Although the reasons may vary, and some may be the result of living with a difficult spouse, the primary factor that women cited for increasing their alcohol consumption was because their spouses drank. In fact, the majority of the women said that they enjoyed drinking with their spouses and wanted to maintain that sense of social connection. Men on the other hand actually decreased their drinking after they got married. The research found that men reported spending less time with their drinking buddies and more time with their wives, which drastically reduced the amount of alcohol they consumed. Some men said they drank less because their wives encouraged them to. Overall, the evidence showed an interesting trend in drinking patterns before, during, and after marriage.

When the researchers compared marital drinking to drinking behaviors after a divorce, they found that the patterns reversed. In general, women abstained from alcohol after divorce, while men increased their alcohol intake as a way of coping with the pain of the divorce. Corinne Reczek of the Sociology Department at the University of Cincinnati, lead author of the study, said that men may be more likely to cope with stressors in “externalizing” ways (i.e., alcohol use), and women may be more likely to cope in “internalizing” ways (e.g., depression). Another interesting finding was that women tended to report higher rates of drinking problems than men. In particular, the women were more likely than the men to attest to having had a drinking problem at one time or another. This could be due to the fact that the women increased their drinking during marriage and found that in comparison to their spouses, they were drinking in excess. Although these results identify unique drinking patterns in married and unmarried individuals, they also underscore the importance of determining the difference between healthy and unhealthy drinking behaviors.

Abbasi, Jennifer. (2012, Aug 20). Marriage-alcohol study shows wives drink more than single women. (n.d.). Huffington Post.  Retrieved August 24, 2012, from

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  • marsh


    September 3rd, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    if difficult partner or marriage is the reason, or whatever the reason may be, alcohol would be the wrong route to take. and if i am to take a guess why this increase happens in women and a decrease happens in men its because women are spending time with a man which pushes them into trying to be like a man, to try and be a buddy to him.whereas a man would not binge as he would with his guy friends when he is with his wife.

  • Margaret


    September 4th, 2012 at 4:21 AM

    So it isn’t necessarily marriage that makes someone drink, but being married to the wrong person or someone who encourages that behavior. That is something that is totally different. When you are married to the right person, then you should be able to sort out your problems rather than trying to bury the problems in alcohol. But when you live with someone who is difficult or does not appreciate the anctity of marriage in the way that one should, then that could lead to many difficult issues in the marriage including drinking.

  • Janey


    September 4th, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    I am surprised to read that wome report having more problems with drinking than men do. . .

    Do you think that this is really true or is it just that women are more comfortable with self reporting and more aware of when they do have a problem than men are?

  • Herschelle


    September 4th, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Drinking as a social connection with your partner? That is a horrible way to see your marriage and to base it on things like connections over drinking is fallacy. Whether drinking increases or decreases slightly after marriage,as long as it is in moderate amounts I do not think it is a problems,but treating it as a tool for connecting with your partner is not good at all.

  • Liza


    September 4th, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Being with the wrong person, and knowing it, is enough to cause anyone to want to drink!
    I sure would if I thought that I had let the good ones get away and had settled for Mr OK instead.

  • Wind Sparrow

    Wind Sparrow

    September 4th, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    A young woman drinking is often seen as being irresponsible while the same is not said about a married woman. I think the attitudes change and so does the view of the women. I am drinking with my spouse so what’s wrong! comes in and maybe that is the cause of increased alcohol intake? I don’t know but yeah marriage does bring in an increase in drinking in women and I see a lot of live examples.

  • stressmom


    September 5th, 2012 at 4:14 AM

    Marriage is stressful and it is hard for anyone who is in that kind of relartionship, but if you are an adult about it, you don’t have to resort to something like drinking to work it out. There does come a time when you have to be an adult and behave in an adult way. And there is no time like when you are married to do that! I think that for some people marriage makes them regress (?!?) and they go back to thinking that this shouldn’t be work, that they can ease through. Anyone who has been married for any length of time will tell you that this is not possible. It will always take hard work, no matter how long you have been together and that work is best done when sober.

  • Gerald


    September 5th, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Great, men being blamed for something yet again

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