Does Marriage Drive You to Drink?

Wives are boozers. Single ladies, not so much.

A new study from the University of Cincinnati has found that married women drink more than their single counterparts—and even more than divorced women.

Researchers studied more than 5,000 adults over 11 years and found that while on average, divorced women enjoy six and a half drinks per month, married women knock back nine. Meanwhile, men who are married actually drink less than divorced men—downing 19.2 drinks a month as opposed to the 21.5 drinks divorced men do.

So why are women drinking more in marriage? And why are men drinking less? It has to do with couples meeting in the middle, says study author Corinne Reczek, Ph.D, assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at the University of Cincinnati. Many women are introduced to alcohol by their husbands, and drink significantly more after they are married, says Reczek. While wives tend to fill up to keep up with their husbands’ drinking, men cut back, drinking less to match the habits of their wives.

ON WOMEN'S HEALTH: How Booze Can Help You Lose Weight

When couples get divorced, men often turn to alcohol to deal with stress and are prone to more nights out at the bars with their friends. Women, however, are likely to drink less since their alcohol supplier is no longer in the house. What’s more, women often turn to food to deal with stress, she says.

But don’t pick a fight with your hubby over it: His alcohol influence can be great for your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named moderate drinking one of the key healthy lifestyle behaviors that can help you live longer—right up there with healthy eating and exercise. But with a buzz.

“Our finding suggests that even though married women drink more than others, this higher amount is still considered moderate,” says Reczek. Moderate drinking—defined as one drink a day for women—is the saucy sweet spot for health benefits ranging from weight loss and diabetes protection to a 40% slash in heart disease risk.

ON WOMEN'S HEALTH: The Good (and Bad) of Having a Drink

Raise a glass to your health with these healthy drink varieties:

Best Beer: Miller64

Besides packing only 64 calories (duh), one bottle has 2.4 grams of carbohydrates, about a third as most other light beers.

Best Wine: Pinot Noir

It contains more antioxidants than any other alcoholic beverage. Plus, wine has been found to be better at boosting brainpower than beer or hard liquor.

Best Cocktail: Bloody Mary

One serving is sure to fill you up, and the antioxidant lycopene from the tomato juice provides a heart-healthy bonus.

MORE ON WOMEN'S HEALTH: The Best Light Beers

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