Science, or at least a long, drooping branch of it, has determined that marriage affects the drinking habits of men and women very differently. How differently? you ask, perhaps with an eyebrow raised and your glass of bedtime milk raised halfway to your lips. Married men, it seems, are more likely to moderate their drinking, while married women are more likely to hit the bottle with a vengeance.
A group of sociologists led by Corinne Reczek from the University of Cincinnati sifted through data collected from a long-running study involving a few thousand people in Wisconsin, and determined that, while men generally tend to drink more than women, married men tended to drink more than their male counterparts. Researchers also analyzed a separate set of 120 interviews with married, divorced, widowed and single people about their lifestyles, finding that, overall, married couples simply tend to drink less than divorced, unmarried or widowed people. Men who were happily married, for instance, tended to be way at the sober end of the spectrum, while men who were not-so-happily divorced tended to be boozing it up pretty hard.
Marriage tended to conversely affect women, with married women drinking more than their divorced counterparts. Researchers concluded that this stark difference between how married men and women drink had something to do with women being more impressionable than men, who seemed to shift their drinking habits to their beleaguered spouses and then go merrily about making popsicle houses and painting egg cartons, you know, stuff blissfully sober people do. Reczek and her team concluded,
Our qualitative results suggest this occurs because men introduce and prompt women's drinking, and because divorced women lose the influence of men's alcohol use upon dissolution.
The team further added that marriage seems to change the "social condition" of men's lives in a way that makes it easier and more acceptable not to drink. Women, on the other hand, are driven to drink by their marital lives because apparently marriage isn't so much a union between two people possessed of an unrelenting affection for each other as it is one prolonged D.A.R.E. commercial. These are the lessons that sociology has taught us for the day — heed them well, I guess.