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The Law Of Equivalent Drinking

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Mike and I watched the swirling snows of Nemo one recent Friday afternoon, curled up on the couch in front of a roaring fire. Carole King radio played on Pandora over the stereo. We each had a glass of tequila splashed with Cointreau, in which floated a few wedges of three-week-old lime. Ahhh, the benefits of an empty nest! It was a fine afternoon for a storm.

We relaxed as we soaked up the warmth of the fire and the liquor.  And then ... I couldn't breathe. I began to blow my nose. My throat was on fire, and I began to sneeze. I wanted to amputate my head.

Not knowing where to turn to ease my misery, I grabbed my laptop so I could let the world know how miserable I was, and my spirits were lifted when I saw an email from my daughter in Abu Dhabi. The subject of her email was: "Check out this article ... you guys are right ... duh."

I perked right up. Screw the cold! My kid thought we were "right"! And she was reading the LA Times!

I immediately clicked through to the link in her email. It was to an article that had appeared on February 6, 2013 in the LA Times Health section. The article was about incompatible drinking and divorce and, sure enough, it confirmed we were right.

The LA Times article focused on a Norwegian study of 19,977 married couples (which, of course, begged the question, "couldn't they have gotten 23 more?") that proved that spouses who consumed roughly the same amount of alcohol ("compatible" drinkers) were less likely to divorce than pairs where one partner was a heavy drinker and the other was not. (Interestingly, the study indicated it was worse if the woman was the drinker and the man was not.)

I asked Mike to freshen our drinks in celebration, because we were so very ahead of the (LA) times; we have been talking about this "compatible drinking" theory with family and friends for decades. Many moons ago, without spending a dime on research (unless you factor in the cost of the alcohol) my brilliant husband came up with the Law of Equivalent Drinking, or as we call it, LED (not to be confused with Light Emitting Diode). We could have saved them a lot of money if they had just asked us.

LED, or the Law of Equivalent Drinking, as Mike explained it one night over a round of martinis with friends, provides that everyone -- married or not -- gets along best with people who drink roughly the same amount. Having legal backgrounds, we called it a law and not a theory. Besides, TED would be taken soon enough -- though ironically, this indeed has proved to be an Idea Worth Spreading. We toasted to shedding the light on LED the night of Mike's epiphany, and have done so with friends many times since.

The fact is, we tend to gravitate toward, and get along best with, people who drink like we do -- and we know others do too. Mike enjoys the company of men who can appreciate a fine scotch. We like to share a bottle of wine with dinner. We like to see the excitement in our friends' faces when we bring over an oversized glass container of fruit-infused vodka. We like to start our Saturday night out with a martini. It's ok if it's dirty, but if you pass altogether, it changes the mood.

Like any law, LED has its exceptions. I have a few wonderful girlfriends that are truly special to me -- even though they order a Diet Coke instead of a glass of wine at dinner. I get that some people do not like to drink. I get that some people cannot have a drink and of course I respect that. But on the whole, I'm just sayin'... we spend an awful lot of time with people who drink like we do.

Mike may not bring me a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day (though if he does, it should be dark chocolate with sea salt). He probably won't bring me a dozen roses either. But I do know for sure that we will share a toast over a nice bottle of Cabernet on Valentine's Day. And there is no doubt in my mind, that because of LED, we will finish that bottle.

Read more from Better After 50:
Dating After Divorce: Do Single Moms Face A Sexual Double Standard?
Is a Sexless Marriage Reason To Divorce?
My First Love: Food
"Happy VD" From an Online Dater

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