Time for a glass of wine? Something positive happens when a couple drinks alcohol together for a long time

Weekend, so a great time for a glass of wine. Hopefully your loved one feels the same way, because couples with the same drinking habits live longer, according to a new study. Although it should not be a reason to open that bottle more often, the researchers warn.

They looked at more than 4,600 couples who participated in a long-term study among American people over 50, who fill out a questionnaire every two years. Among other things, they had to indicate approximately how much alcohol they drank per week.

Together is better than alone
And that revealed something remarkable. “We found that couples who drank alcohol in the past three months lived longer than the other couples, who either did not drink or where only one of the two drank,” said researcher Kira Birditt of the University of Michigan. It also turned out that both partners lived longer when they both drank light or moderately, compared to couples who both consumed a lot or no alcohol at all. For example, cardiovascular disease or diabetes has been taken into account, which can influence alcohol consumption and its consequences.

The same lifestyle
It is not clear why drinking together leads to a longer life, while this does not apply to individual alcohol consumption. A possible explanation is that it is good for the relationship to have a beer or wine every now and then. But conversely, equal alcohol consumption may also say something about how well the lifestyles fit together and how satisfied people are with their relationship. In any case, it shows that partners have a major influence on each other’s well-being. “We’ve also found in other studies that couples who drink together have better relationships and that could be because it increases intimacy,” Birditt explains. In general, a good relationship is beneficial to health and you might think: the more you share, the better it is, so something like having a drink together can also have a positive effect.

Drunken fights
It is not the first time that the influence of drinking together has been investigated, but this usually concerns the differences in alcohol consumption. Back in 1998, a study was published showing that drinking habits affect relationships. Especially if one person drinks much more than the other, this often leads to arguments and tensions. “The majority of research looked at younger couples and heavy drinking in one of the two. It showed that people are less satisfied with their marriage, have more conflicts and divorce more often,” it said.

Shots or wine by the fireplace
But it now appears that the opposite also applies: shared drinking habits actually bring couples closer together. Although there are limitations this study. For example, only heterosexual couples were looked at and not at what kind of alcohol people drank. Drinking shots in the pub may have a different effect than a glass of wine by the fire. “There is also little information about the daily interpersonal processes that may have an impact on the association. What is their daily life like? Do they drink together? What do they do when they drink?” Birditt wonders.

She says it is very important to understand how couples influence each other’s behavior in order to develop better health policies for older adults. It works better if measures take the lifestyle of both partners into account. “This study takes this one step further by showing that drinking approximately the same amount of alcohol together may lead to a longer life, but it is also important to look at how much people drink,” the researcher concludes.