elderly couple drinking
Old couples that drink together seem happier in their marriage Istock

Old couples who drink together generally report higher satisfaction with their marriage than those who do not, scientists have discovered. This is particularly true for wives, who are much happier in marriage when they drink with their husbands.

While previous studies have focused on the effect of drinking in younger couples, there has been little research regarding the impact of booze on the relationship between older spouses.

The latest paper, published in The Journals of Gerontology, focused on thousands of elderly adults to assess how their drinking patterns had shaped their marriage and their levels of martial satisfaction.

Happier drunk together

The researchers, from the University of Michigan, used data from the Health and Retirement Study – a longitudinal study regarding the health of US adults aged 50 years or over, which has been going on since 1990.

The analysis focused on 4864 adults, looking at their reported alcohol consumption on a weekly basis – that is, whether they consumed alcohol and how much. The scientists also examined data about the quality of the participants' marriages.

They found out that couples who drank in a concordant manner – together but not necessarily in the same amount – were less likely to report negative marital quality over time. This association was particularly robust for wives. The women who consumed alcohol were happier with their partner when they also drank, and reported less marital satisfaction when they didn't.

These findings suggest that it is the drinking status of the couple and not the amount of alcohol consumed by both members that impacts marital quality over time.

For older couples, positive marital quality is an important factor of their overall health, so understanding how drinking patterns can affect their satisfaction in their marriage could be crucial in boosting their well-being. Obviously, it does not mean couples should reach for the bottle to fix a problematic marriage, but it does indicate that sharing convivial moments of drinking can be positive in terms of mental well-being.