Alcohol Use in MarriageNote from Dustin: The abuse of alcohol has had a major impact in my life, mostly through my Dad’s struggles

When CJ – a Ph.D. candidate at Clark University – approached me to help spread the word about this issue and also give the opportunity for our community to contribute to a research survey on alcohol use in marriage, I was happy to welcome him.  Here’s CJ…

Most theoretical work on substance abuse in relationships suggests that alcohol use and marital distress have a reciprocal relationship.

On one hand, relationship dysfunction can create a stressful environment that increases a partner’s chances of having alcohol use problems. In the other direction, substance abuse has been shown to potentially be harmful to relationship health.

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Couples in which at least one partner has an alcohol use problem have lower levels of satisfaction, higher levels of verbal and physical aggression, more steps towards divorce, less sexual satisfaction, and higher levels of psychological problems in children.

On a positive note, a supportive partner plays a major role on the road to recovery, and can have an important influence on a person’s decision to seek help for issues with alcohol.

While some couples may struggle with “heavy” drinking (drinking more than 4 drinks a day or more than 14 drinks per week for men; drinking more than 3 drinks a day or more than 7 drinks a week for women), other couples may disagree when a partner consumes just one drink.

Regardless of the level of consumption, there are many options available for couples who are struggling with alcohol use.

There are a number of online forums and support websites, as well as many self-help books in various forms.

For those seeking more in-depth assistance, Alcoholics Anonymous (and Al-Anon for families) are available in addition to other similar treatment programs conducted through local health care facilities.

For those seeking to work through alcohol problems as a couple, there is an empirically validated therapy called Behavioral Couples Therapy for Substance Abuse that addresses both substance-focused issues, such as reducing risk and creating a recovery contract, as well as effectively communicating each partner’s concerns and feelings.

Help Find a Solution for Alcohol Problems in Marriage

If you and your spouse disagree about alcohol use, please consider taking the survey below.  My name is CJ and this survey is a part of my dissertation, which focuses on the role of a partner in a person’s decision to seek help for alcohol use issues.

My study is designed for couples in which one partner drinks and the other partner is concerned about that person’s drinking to some extent.

I would greatly appreciate your support of my research. More information and the link are below.

Participate in a survey on couples and alcohol use and enter to win a raffle!

Are you and your spouse legally married (or in a civil union) and at least 18 years of age?

Have you or your partner consumed alcoholic beverages in the last 6 months?

Is alcohol use an area of disagreement in your marriage?

If you answered yes to the above questions, you and your spouse are eligible to participate in a research survey regarding the relationship between your marriage and your alcohol-related help seeking behaviors. When you complete the survey, you will each be entered into a raffle for one of four $50 gift cards!

The survey will take each participant approximately 20 minutes, and survey responses will be anonymous.

Start Survey Here:

This study has been approved by the Clark Committee for the Rights of Human Participants in Research and Training Programs (IRB). Any questions about human rights issues should be directed to the IRB Chair, Dr. James P. Elliott, 508-793-7152, The study is being conducted by C.J. Fleming, M.A. and James Cordova, Ph.D. in the Psychology Department at Clark University. Please feel free to contact the researcher ( ) or the research supervisor ( ) with any questions or concerns.

Alcohol in Marriage Survey


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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