If you and your partner drink casually together, keep going. Your relationship may just withstand the annoyance of your spouse.
A recent study found in The Journals of Gerontology suggests that when older couples participate in concordant drinking (drinking together), the negativity within their relationship decreases. Essentially, partners get on each other’s nerves less. Their outlook toward one another is more positive and drinking together increases their ability to live harmoniously. They even have more in common outside of the home.
On the flip-side, those who participate in discordant drinking (where only one spouse drinks), suffer from an increase of negative feelings within their marriage. Simple offenses, like forgetting to empty the dishwasher, rarely go unnoticed.
Specifically, the study shows that this amicability is significantly greater among wives. The study went on to say, “Further, wives are often referred to as the barometer of the marital relationship and thus may be more affected by discordance or concordance in alcohol use.” If they aren’t in-sync, women tend to sense when things are “off” within the relationship. So, when a woman drinks with her partner, she is more likely to shrug off her partner’s daily blunders.
As we live with our partners over the years, it is no surprise that we start irritating each other. Sometimes it feels as though our best friend has evolved into a roommate – one who leaves the dishes in the sink, forgets to pick-up the milk on the way home, or throws his or her dirty socks on the family room floor instead of in the laundry basket. The study claims that drinking with your spouse can help alleviate all of these small grievances that have the ability to pile up – just like those dishes in the sink.
In result, concordant drinking couples may spend more time together and enjoy more leisure activities together. They take trips together, run races, take on watersports, and enjoy other pursuits that bond people together. Not to say that discordant drinking couples don’t share in these activities – it’s just not as likely.
Furthermore, the study says that “Discordant drinking couples may use more destructive conflict strategies.” They may banter on a more regular basis. So, if one drinks and the other doesn’t, the impact is not the same. This explains my parents, who have an imperfect, yet strong marriage of almost 46 years. My dad is 13 years older than my mom. Oftentimes, she plays the role of nurse and maid more than wife. She does not drink. My dad, on the other hand, drinks leisurely at 82 years old. My mother puts on that black and white referee uniform daily, nagging my dad for his fouls and wanting to eject him out of the house.
According to the study, maybe my mom should start drinking a couple glasses of wine in the evenings. Perhaps she wouldn’t want to blow the whistle at my father as often. And my dad, well, he should continue to drink his small doses of red wine and Scotch because it’s helping him live harmoniously with his wife of almost half a century – giving him the ability to shrug off his wife’s protests.
Neither I nor the study recommends picking up a heavy drinking habit with your partner, but if you enjoy a couple of light-hearted cocktails, don’t stop. It just may continue to toughen your marriage as you journey through the sometimes-murky years together.