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Marriage May Really Drive Women to Drink

Women are influenced by their husbands to drink more, researchers say, while married men cut back.

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By McCarton Ackerman

08/20/12

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Married couples often joke that their spouses drive them to drink, but a new study suggests that—for women—the claim is true. Sociologists from the University of Cincinnati, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University and the University of Texas found that marriage does often drive women to increase their alcohol intake—not because they’re necessarily unhappy, but because they’re influenced by their husbands' drinking, and men typically booze more than women. For a similar reason, men who are married drink less, because they spend more time with their less-boozy wives, rather than their drinking buddies. The opposite is true of divorced men, who are at a particularly high risk for alcohol abuse, the study found: three-quarters of divorced men said they drank more to cope with the pain of their marriage ending. But alcohol consumption among women decreased sharply post-divorce. The researchers examined large Wisconsin surveys from 1993 and 2004 about monthly alcohol intake, while also conducting 120 qualitative in-depth interviews over the past decade. "Some research suggests that men are more likely to cope with stressors in 'externalizing' ways (i.e., alcohol use)," writes lead researcher Corinne Reczek, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati, "while women are more likely to cope in 'internalizing' ways (e.g., depression)."

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