Padraig O’Mo­rain

Mar­riage could drive you to drink

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Front Page - Padraig O’Mo­rain is ac­cred­ited by the Ir­ish As­so­ci­a­tion for Coun­selling and Psy­chother­apy. His lat­est book is Mind­ful­ness for Wor­ri­ers. His daily mind­ful­ness reminder is free by email. po­morain@ya­hoo.com Twit­ter: @PadraigOMo­rain

Does mar­riage drive peo­ple to drink? Not as dra­mat­i­cally as that phrase sug­gests but ty­ing the knot seems to in­flu­ence drink­ing by men and women. For in­stance, a 10-year study at three US uni­ver­si­ties found that many men drink less when they marry and many women drink more. The way it seems to work is this: Be­fore they marry, men drink more than women. When they marry, men re­duce their drink­ing. This is be­cause they are in­flu­enced by their wives and be­cause they are, or should be, spend­ing less time in the pub. But even with this re­duc­tion, they still drink more than women.

Man’s in­flu­ence

The wife’s con­sump­tion of al­co­hol is, how­ever, also in­flu­enced by the man’s con­sump­tion – so if the hus­band still drinks more than the wife, then the wife tends to in­crease her drink­ing. In other words, they con­verge.

A sim­i­lar ef­fect has been no­ticed by re­searchers in re­gard to eat­ing. Imag­ine that a man who eats too much moves in with or mar­ries a slim woman who eats healthily.

The man now eats more healthily to please his wife. But that doesn’t mean he be­comes slim and trim and switches to the Mediter­ranean diet. In­stead, the wife be­gins to eat more like he eats so, again, they con­verge.

No longer does she limit her­self to a stick of cel­ery while he tucks into a steak – soon enough, the cel­ery will be aban­doned in its plas­tic wrap­ping while she has what he’s hav­ing.

Bor­ing cou­ples

And now that they are mar­ried or liv­ing to­gether they be­gin to do what they said they would never do – you know, be­come one of those bor­ing cou­ples who sit in front of the telly, drink­ing wine from the convenience store while watch­ing other peo­ple on Gog­gle­box sit­ting in front of the telly drink­ing wine from the convenience store.

That, need­less to say, helps to pile on the pounds. This may all be aided and abet­ted by a fun-crush­ing mort­gage that keeps them in­doors or – if they are also man­ag­ing de­mand­ing jobs and a child or two – by ex­haus­tion.

Di­vorce changes the drink­ing pat­terns. You might ex­pect both gen­ders to drink more af­ter a di­vorce but the re­search sug­gests that while men do, in­deed, drink more in the af­ter­math of a di­vorce, women drink and eat less. It isn’t that they are un­af­fected – in­stead of cop­ing through drink and al­co­hol some women be­come de­pressed in­stead.

That’s some­thing men and women need to watch out for be­cause di­vorce is usu­ally a long and painful process – get­ting through it in good shape in terms of well­be­ing can take care and sup­port.

Cut­ting down

We don’t know if the ex­tra drink­ing and eat­ing by women in mar­riage is sig­nif­i­cantly bad for them so we don’t need to panic yet. But if a man would like his wife or long-term part­ner to be the slim lass he mar­ried, then the way to get her to cut down is, I’m afraid, for him to cut down on the booze and the sug­ary food him­self so as to in­flu­ence her in his healthy di­rec­tion.

A few trips to the gym – for him – ev­ery week will re­ally get things go­ing. Thing is, he’s got to keep it up – if he slips back she’ll slip back too.

Sorry lads, I know it’s a pain in the neck but look on it as the bur­den of man­hood.

Dry Jan­uary

On a not un­re­lated topic, con­grat­u­la­tions to read­ers who have made it through Dry Jan­uary or who are within a whisker of the fin­ish­ing line. Some will have found it easy and for oth­ers it will have been a long road.

If you found it tough go­ing, you might give some thought in the future to whether the booze is get­ting a hold on you and whether you might need to do some­thing more long-term about it at some point. But it’s an achieve­ment for all and a pat on the back is in or­der.

If the hus­band still drinks more than the wife, then the wife tends to in­crease her drink­ing. In other words, they con­verge

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