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New research gives one more reason to cut down on drinking


By Jo Hartley

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We've all been there and done it.

The nights where ‘just one more’ drink quickly turns into ten.  But that is only ever really the start of it though isn’t it?  The awkward shuffle dancing is quickly replaced by confident suggestive moves on tabletops, whilst handbags, inhibitions, pride and self-respect are carelessly flung into the corner far out of reach.

There has never been any doubt that alcohol is the devil’s mouthwash and has played a key part in many an argument occurring between friends, families and couples. But if you were to know that alcohol could potentially lead to the end of your marriage, would you act differently?

New results published last week from a Norwegian study revealed that marriages in which the wife drinks more than her husband are twice as likely to dissolve than if the man was the heavier drinker.

Data for the survey was collected from 20,000 couples.  Whilst it showed that divorce was common in couples who both had high rates of alcohol consumption, it predominantly highlighted that in a relationship where the wife was the heavy drinker, the divorce rate soared to 26.8%.  This displayed an increase of 13.7% in comparison to the relationships where the male was the heavier drinker of the two.

It’s pretty much common knowledge that women are affected more by alcohol than men and there is much scientific reasoning behind this.  But perhaps what people aren’t taking so seriously are the implications that alcohol can have on personal relationships as much as health.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no angel.  I have had my fair share of nights out, many of which if you were to ask me about, I would be unlikely to remember.  I have danced on tabletops.  I have drunk until I have passed out.  I have kissed numerous frogs and I have frequently checked in my femininity along with my coat at the cloakroom of clubs.

What I have also done however is made bad decisions, put myself in danger, jeopardized my mental and physical health and, above all, previously put my marriage on the line.  And all for what? A drink.

I totally appreciate and empathise with the fact that alcohol is a release for us all. Life is stressful and we drink.  We drink to relax.  We drink to escape.  We drink to party.  In fact, alcohol is as much a part of our culture as Australians as the surf and sun.  However, as this survey highlights, it can be so much more damaging in so many ways.

There is definitely no doubt that there is much more of an awareness these days of our dependence on alcohol, and the emergence of monthly abstinence challenges such as ‘Feb Fast’ and ‘Dry July’ are an encouraging way for people to quit the grog for the short term.  However, this new survey does reinforce the point that perhaps abstaining from drinking, or at least choosing to drink in moderation, should be more of a longer-term decision.

After all, it may well mean the difference between following a path that may potentially lead to a dead end or a path that leads to a happier and longer future, particularly when it comes to your loved ones.


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Jo Hartley - to view all of Jo's blog post click here

Jo is a blogging mummy and writer living in Sydney who regularly thinks about going to the gym. Whilst Jo used to want it all, she would now happily settle for a skinny bum and the chance to finish a full cup of tea in peace.


  • I am worried about the culture developing within women and drinking. We always see on Twitter or Facebook talk about ‘wine o’clock’ and ending the day with a drink to wind down and I worry about this for the next generation. I know that it is accepted that an evening drink is okay but is it?

    I am not a big drinker at all maybe a glass of wine at a family BBQ, Christmas or birthday, or a cool midori on a Sunday afternoon in summer, but certainly not a regular daily or even weekly thing. My husband doesn’t drink actually at all.

    I think that we need to rethink our consumption habits particularly in front of our children. They need to know alcohol is okay every now and then and certainly in moderation.

    And I’m not some old prude, I have certainly had my unflattering drunken moments as a young adult and been tipsy a few times here and there, I just don’t think the daily drink or two is necessary and sends the wrong message that we ‘need’ a drink to relax and unwind.

  • Jo, I’ve so been there. A few years ago it was quite normal for me to catch up for a drink most nights after work with work colleagues. On weekends too I use to loving having a few, and letting loose and having a good old dance – usually in a circle with my friends around our handbags on the dance floor! It was only when I fell pregnant and stopped drinking, that I realised how drinking had almost become a normal part of my daily life. Everyone around me was the same – these days it’s considered normal to drink ‘a lot’.
    I don’t drink much at all now, and feel I’m much better off for it.
    I agree with you Jodi I think drinking culture is an issue.

  • Dee

    Hi, Interesting article. The point that was made that divorce rates were highest in situations where women’s drinking was higher than men’s is the bit that interested me. Made me think that what might be at play here could be some social expectations about how women should behave (which play out in the marriage). This might be around ‘acting in a ladylike fashion’, not ‘tramping it up’ dancing late into the night, or maybe expectations around who does the child care and being at home/looking after your man. After all, fairly sure that if a woman is drinking heavily this might mean she may not be as available for these tasks as might usually be expected. I just cut back on drinking alcohol for a bit (forwent my glass of wine with friends I used to have..e.r…quite regularly) and yes, feel pretty good for doing so, but it is interesting how women seem to cope with men drinking but not vice versa. I am not convinced this is just because it ‘affects women more’; I suspect there’s some social and power issues at play here too. Thanks for the thought-provoking article.

    • Hi Dee, great points that you raise – I agree. re “divorce rates were highest in situations where women’s drinking was higher than men’s”, or maybe the women are drinking because the relationship was crap!