Concordant and Discordant Alcohol, Tobacco, and Marijuana Use as Predictors of Marital Dissolution

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This study examined concordant and discrepant alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use among couples to determine whether they predicted marital separation or divorce over 9 years. The study recruited 634 couples as they applied for their marriage licenses; we assessed them at that time and reassessed them with mailed questionnaires at their first, second, fourth, seventh, and ninth wedding anniversaries. Approximately 60% of the men and women were European American, and approximately 33% were African American. The frequency of drinking to intoxication and binge drinking (more than 5 drinks in an occasion) was assessed, as was the use of cigarettes and marijuana. At each assessment, each member of the couple was asked about the occurrence of marital separations and divorce. Bivariate analyses indicated that tobacco and marijuana use, whether discrepant or concordant, were associated with marital disruptions. However, discrepant heavy drinking was associated with disruptions, but concordant heavy drinking was not. Concordant and discordant marijuana use were not associated with divorce when analyses controlled for alcohol and tobacco use. Concordant and discordant tobacco use was not associated with divorce when analyses controlled for sociodemographic and personality factors. However, discrepant alcohol use was related to divorce after controlling for the other substances in 1 analysis and after controlling for the sociodemographic factors in a separate analysis. Tobacco and marijuana use were related to divorce through their associations with other variables. However, results suggest that discrepant alcohol use may lead to marital disruptions and should be addressed with couples seeking marital treatment.

Related Topics

  • Behavioral Health
  • Fathers/Partners