Can Drinking Predict Your Compatibility?

A glass of wine with dinner or shots all weekend? A few beers after work or champagne only on special occasions? Your answer—and your partner’s answer—may predict how compatible you are long-term.

Recently, researchers in Norway collected data from almost 20,000 married couples about their drinking habits. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that heavy drinking correlated with higher divorce rates—but it depended on who was doing the drinking, too. Their findings are summarized below.

  • Couples who both reported being light drinkers divorced just 5.8 percent of the time.
  • In couples in which both husband and wife were heavy drinkers, the divorce rate was 17.2 percent.
  • In couples in which the husband was a heavy drinker and the wife was a light drinker, the divorce rate was 13.1 percent.
  • But in couples in which the wife was a heavy drinker and the husband was a light drinker, the divorce rate shot up to 26.8 percent.

The study doesn’t compare these numbers to divorce rates in Norway overall, which tops out at about 46 percent in a marriage lasting 60 years. It was 45 percent for a 40-year marriage, 36 percent for a 20-year marriage, and 21 percent for a 10-year marriage, though the study didn’t specify which marriage lengths they looked at.

Still, it’s hard to ignore that a women’s heavy drinking is correlated with divorce at more than double the rate as does a man’s heavy drinking. Lead author of the study Fartein Ask Torvik speculated on the reason behind that, saying that heavy drinking “may be judged as incompatible with female roles,” threatening marriage stability. He also speculated that heavy drinking may affect women more strongly, impairing them more than it does men.

Of course, regardless of gender, drinking to the point of impairment on a regular basis threatens the stability of any relationship, from marriage to friendships to your work relationships.

“Couples who intend to marry should be aware of the drinking pattern of their partner, since it may become a problem in the future,” Norwegian Institute of Public Health director Ellinor F. Major advised in a statement. The best approach? Husbands and wives should strive for matching amounts of light or moderate drinking.

Do you agree? Have mis-matched drinking habits ever affected your relationship or marriage?

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Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago


Tom Rose
Thomas Rose5 years ago

Interesting post. Thanks.

Bruno Moreira
Bruno Moreira5 years ago

noted thanks

Ann Fuller
Ann Fuller5 years ago

I very rarely drink but my husband drinks every day & we have been married for 41 years. I think it depends on how much patience you have. If they start to get argumentative you just ignore them & find something else to do. No one is perfect.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

I kind of feel that the title was misleading...but the results of the study was interesting

Nancy Black
Nancy Black5 years ago

Probably depends upon how often you indulge, whether or not you are a mean drinker, whether or not you allow drinking to stop you from functioning and doing necessary tasks.

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim5 years ago

Well .. seems obvious, right?

Vera Yuno
Vera Yuno5 years ago

Drinking can predict you will be drunk after a while if you go on drinking. Obviously, isn't it???

Jink Huge
Jink H5 years ago

It is probably best to stay away because if the first drink isn't consumed you can never get to become a heavy drinker! I know people who partied moderately in their 20's, had children, put them to bed and enjoyed what became a must have bottle of wine EVERY night.

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson5 years ago

Holds true for me so far...