Drinking Together: The Surprising Link to Longevity in Couples Over 50


4/8/20242 min read

Drinking Together: The Surprising Link to Longevity in Couples Over 50
Drinking Together: The Surprising Link to Longevity in Couples Over 50


A recent study published in the journal Gerontologist has shed light on a fascinating aspect of romantic relationships: the impact of shared drinking habits on longevity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the research suggests that couples who drink together are not only more likely to have healthier relationships but also to live longer. Led by Kira Birditt, a professor at the University of Michigan, the study delves into the dynamics of "drinking partnerships" among couples over the age of 50, revealing intriguing findings that challenge traditional notions of alcohol consumption and its effects on interpersonal dynamics and longevity.

Key Findings:

The study focused on 4,566 married, different-sex couples aged 50 and above, tracking their drinking habits and relationship dynamics over time. What emerged from the research was a compelling correlation between shared drinking patterns and various aspects of relationship quality and longevity.

1. Drinking Partnerships and Marital Harmony:

Couples who reported drinking together and shared similar drinking habits were found to experience less marital conflict compared to couples with disparate drinking patterns. The concept of a "drinking partnership" emerged as a significant predictor of relationship satisfaction and longevity.

2. Longevity and Shared Drinking:

Interestingly, couples in which both partners indicated drinking alcohol in the past three months tended to live longer than couples where only one partner drank or neither drank. This association between shared drinking and increased longevity raises intriguing questions about the underlying mechanisms at play.

Implications and Future Research:

While the study offers valuable insights into the link between drinking partnerships and relationship outcomes, researchers emphasize the need for further investigation to understand the nuances of this phenomenon. Birditt cautioned against interpreting the findings as a recommendation to drink more, highlighting the complex interplay between relationship dynamics and health outcomes.

Future research directions include exploring the daily interpersonal processes that contribute to the observed links between drinking patterns and relationship quality. By employing techniques such as ecological momentary assessment questionnaires, researchers aim to gain deeper insights into the day-to-day experiences of couples with concordant drinking habits.


The study's findings challenge conventional wisdom regarding alcohol consumption in romantic relationships, suggesting that shared drinking habits may be associated with greater relationship satisfaction and longevity among couples over 50. While the underlying mechanisms remain unclear, the research underscores the importance of understanding the complex interplay between interpersonal dynamics, health behaviors, and longevity in later life. As scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of drinking partnerships, further research promises to shed light on the intricate relationship between alcohol consumption, relationship quality, and longevity.