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Do the couples that drink together stay together?

It's often said that having the same financial goals, similar interests or good communication skills are the keys to a compatible marriage. But according to new research, how much a couple drink together also plays a role in the life of their relationship.

The Los Angeles Times reported the results of study that found couples who drink light amounts of alcohol have lower divorce rates than those that involve heavy drinking among one or both partners.

Researchers found the divorce rate among couples who were heavy drinkers was 17.2 per cent, while it was just 5.8 per cent among couples who were light drinkers. The divorce rate was also higher among couples where one partner drank heavily and the other didn't. This was particularly true when the female partner was the heavy drinker and the male partner was a light drinker. The divorce rate in that scenario was nearly 27 per cent, the study found. In couples where men drank heavily and women drank lightly, the divorce rate was 13 per cent.

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The study was conducted in Norway using data from nearly 20,000 married couples. It was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research this week.

Last year, the first-ever low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines were published in Canada. To avoid long-term risks, the guidelines say women should consume no more than two standard drinks a day, to a maximum of 10 a week, while men should consume no more than three standard drinks a day, to a maximum of 15 a week. To avoid short-term risks, women should not consume more than three standard drinks a day, while men should avoid more than four standard drinks. The guidelines also urge Canadians to abstain from alcohol on some days during the week to avoid dependence.

A standard drink is 341 millilitres (12 ounces) of beer, cider or coolers with a 5 per cent strength; 142 millilitres (5 ounces) of 12 per cent strength wine; or 43 millilitres (1.5 ounces) of 40 per cent strength spirits.

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More


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