Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Married women drink more

Gone are the days when weddings used to draw a line for freedom when it comes to drinks and parties. I have come across women who enjoy drinks and parties even the more after their weddings, thanks to the supporting husband, or rather call a husband who is also indulgent in such things.

And to support my view, today, I came across a report which said that a recent research has found that married women are more likely to drink than their unmarried counterparts -- single, divorced, or widowed.  Men, on the other hand, are less likely to drink when they're married. I doubt if they do, as I have seen women giving company to their husbands while drinking! Maybe a teetotaler wife’s threat might make a man to drink less. 

And yes, Corinne Reczek of the University of Cincinnati, also supports this. "We suspect that men and women may converge in marriage. Wherein women's alcohol use is higher due to the influence of their drinking husbands, while men's declines due to their wives, who tend to drink more moderately."

Reczek and colleagues presented their findings at last weekend's American Sociological Association meeting in Denver. For their research, they studied data from three separate surveys, including one long-term survey that provided information on more than 5,000 Wisconsin residents' alcohol habits, gathered four times during a 47-year period.

Researchers noted that overall, men drink more than women, and that women's increased drinking after marriage might be an attempt to match their husband's habits. Reczek said that she was shocked by the finding that married women drink more than those who are divorced or never married, which "flies in the face of what we thought we knew about marriage and alcohol".

Yes, even I was shocked for the first time to learn the fact that most of my hubby’s friends’ wives join their partners in drinking and I look very odd in their company, or they might be thinking I’m too conservative and out of place, or maybe I’m too rural type for their company! Ah, whatever. My principles remain intact and I know I would be a teetotaler for the rest of my life too.  

Richard Ager, associate professor at New Orleans' Tulane School of Social Work, said he isn't surprised. “People tend to do what others in the same flock do, if you spend more time with individuals that have a higher incidence of doing drugs or alcohol you will develop similar habits. People tend to engage in the behaviors of people they surround themselves with.”

Hmm, I agree that people tend to do what others in the same flock do, but following others can’t be merely blind. I’ve been in the company of people who drink, smoke, consume tea, coffee, milk, and I’m surprised how could they not influence me? Am I so stubborn? Maybe, when it comes to my principles and I would never take a chance of breaking them, and there has never been a need to do so. I never get tempted to drink tea or coffee, let alone alcohol.  

As women drink more to match their men, men in turn tone it down and imbibe less - especially those who are happily married, according to the research. And recently, one of our friends asked me why I don’t drink and when I said I never felt for the need of it, he bluntly said: “You are wasting your life!” And I looked at his wife who was full in smiles and nodded agreeing and she was more than happy to tell me that she gave company to her husband whenever he drinks!

Sorry, my upbringing is different, my culture and tradition is different. Even though I argue for feminist things and women’s freedom, I don’t see any base in arguing for women drinking alcohol and if that would make them equal to men. I have friends and colleagues who drink and smoke, but never ever have I felt that I should follow them.

Moreover, it hurts to see how westerners don’t believe when I say I’m a teetotaler and join them for drinks in parties. After all, they have seen several Indian women taking drinks, smoking cigarettes in parties and westerners are under the impression that we, Indian women, drink regularly at social gatherings!

Women see it as a freedom from the barriers of their own country when they go abroad, or even to other states or cities for higher studies or for work and they simply forget that basic fact that people often generalize things. Because not all people will come to visit our place or country, our behaviour leaves an impression on them and they generalize things, including the behaviour and habits, which is really unfortunate. It’s like after the Slumdog Millionaire, the whole world thinks India is a country of slums!    
Coming back to the research, it also looked at what happens when marriage goes wrong. Divorced men reported drinking far more alcohol than married men, while divorced women drank less than married women. "Men who divorce may cope with stress using alcohol use, wherein women are shown to cope with stress in more internalising ways, including depression," Reczek said. It’s strange, but another fact!