Couples who drink alcohol together may live longer

Conceptual photo of a senior couple drinking wine together at sunset.  Image credit: Nicole Smith, created with MidJourney

Conceptual photo of a senior couple drinking wine together at sunset. Image credit: Nicole Smith, created with MidJourney

A researcher from the University of Michigan says that a couple who drinks alcohol together can stay together for a long time.

In a recent study published in The Gerontologist, Kira Burditt, a research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research Survey Research Center, found that couples whose drinking behavior is consistent (i.e., both partners drink alcohol) live longer. remain alive.

He says there’s a theory in the alcohol literature called “drinking couples”, where couples who have similar patterns of alcohol use have better marital outcomes (such as less conflict and longer marriages), according to studies. There was inspiration behind it.

Although several studies have analyzed how couples’ patterns of alcohol consumption affect marital outcomes, the health implications are not yet fully defined. Birditt says that behavior that is good for marriage is not necessarily good for health.

“The aim of this study was to look at alcohol use and its impact on mortality in couples in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS),” they said. “And we found, interestingly, that couples who indicated drinking alcohol in the past three months lived longer than other couples who indicated no drinking or their drinking patterns. There was inconsistency, with one drinking and the other not.”

And while it might seem like this is a recommendation to drink more alcohol with your spouse, Birditt cautions against that interpretation.

The study focused specifically on alcohol consumption patterns and defined the concept of “drinking” quite broadly, examining whether participants had consumed any alcoholic beverages in the past three months. However, it may suggest the importance of remembering how spouses can influence each other’s health. Compatibility in alcohol consumption between couples may reflect compatibility between couples in their lifestyle, intimacy, and relationship satisfaction.

“We’ve also found in other studies that couples who drink alcohol together have better relationship quality, and that may be because it increases intimacy,” Birditt said.

That effect may be worthy of further study. Burditt would like to explore more questions related to couples’ alcohol use and how it affects the relationship.

“We don’t know why drinking by both partners is associated with better survival. “I think the other techniques we used in our study in terms of daily experiences and ecological momentary assessment questionnaires can really help us understand, for example, the relationship between couples with frequent alcohol consumption.” To focus,” he said. “How is your daily life? Do you drink together? “What do they do when they’re drinking?”

“Also little is known about the daily interpersonal processes that explain these links. Future research should evaluate the implications of couples’ alcohol consumption patterns on daily marital quality and day-to-day physical health outcomes.

The Health and Retirement Study is a nationally representative study of adults over age 50 in the United States. It involves couples who are interviewed every two years. Participants included 4,656 opposite-sex married/cohabiting couples (9,312 individuals) who completed at least three waves of the HRS from 1996 to 2016.

Study: Alcohol use and mortality among older couples in the United States: Evidence of individual and partner effects

Written by John Meerdink of the UM Institute for Social Research, adapted from Spanish by Juan Ochoa of Michigan News.

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