Often, people think that their habits have little influence on their spouse. However, it looks like your habits may be influencing your spouse more than you think. It also looks like your spouse’s habits may be rubbing off on you more than you know. One example of this can be seen with how spouse’s alcohol intake influences one another after marriage.
What Research Says About Alcohol Habits After Marriage
Research shows that your alcohol intake may be influenced by your spouse’s drinking habits. Men tend to drink less once they get married but women tend to drink more after tying the knot. The theory is that their habits converge and they meet somewhere in the middle.
A study by the University of Cincinnati reports that once married, a woman’s alcohol consumption tends to increase due to her husband’s drinking habits. Corinne Reczek led the study that looked a women’s drinking habits over the course of 47 years. Researchers discovered that married women not only drink more than single women, but they also drink more than divorced and widowed women as well. Men tend to reduce their alcohol intake after marriage and drink less than their single counterparts.
How You Can Apply this to Your Marriage
It’s likely that these same principles apply to other bad habits. For example, if you live with messy spouse, it’s possible you’ll become a little more lax with your cleaning habits. Or if your spouse is chronically late you may find you tend to be less punctual as well.
Having different habits can be helpful at times. If you marry someone who is the complete opposite of you, meeting in the middle can be a good thing. For example, someone who doesn’t usually socialize much may enjoy some of the increased social activities if he marries a social butterfly. Or a couple who compromises on spending and saving may balance one another out. Meeting in the middle may help people from staying at the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum.
However, the idea of meeting in the middle with habits can become problematic when one person’s bad habit rubs off on the other. Sometimes a person may lose sight of their own values and may become desensitized by their spouse’s habits.
For example, if you live with someone who isn’t concerned about eating healthy, you may easily be swayed to sneak more junk food into your diet. Or if someone who only occasionally smokes marijuana marries someone who smokes daily, it may cause them to smoke marijuana more often.
Examine How Your Spouse’s Habits May be Influencing You
If your spouse has some bad habits, it’s important to take a look at how your spouse’s habits may be impacting you. See if you have changed any of your behaviors to become more in line with your spouse’s habits. Sometimes this can be a positive thing and sometimes it’s not.
If your spouse’s good habits have rubbed off on you, keep it up! Perhaps you exercise more often because you are married to someone who never misses an opportunity to go to the gym. Or maybe you get to bed at a more reasonable hour because your spouse tends to go to sleep early.
However, it’s important to make sure you haven’t picked up any unhealthy habits. For example, if you have married an impulsive spender, perhaps you’ve become more relaxed with your own spending habits.
Responding to Your Spouse’s Bad Habits
Once you recognize your spouse’s habits and how this may be influencing your behavior, it’s time to decide if you want to do anything about it. Often people try to talk their spouse out of a bad habit or try to convince them to change. However, it looks like a more powerful way to try and help your spouse make change is to lead by example.
Avoid the “If you can’t beat them join them” attitude as your habits are also likely to influence your spouse. So if you want your spouse to change, behave in the same manner you’d like to see your spouse behave.
For example, if your spouse tends to complain often, don’t join in. Instead, point out the positive. Behaving in this manner may help your habits rub off on your spouse. If your spouse has an anger problem, don’t stoop to his level by saying mean things when you lose your temper. Instead, practice modeling appropriate ways to calm yourself down.
Teach by example. Develop healthy habits for yourself and try to get the good habits to rub off on your spouse. Stay on your toes about your spouse’s bad habits so that you don’t head down the slippery slope into developing those habits for yourself.