The Law of Equivalent Drinking

drink wine LED toast friends alcoholMike and I curled up on the couch in front of a roaring fire on damp spring day. 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.

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 this Mother’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 this Mother’s Day.   And there is no doubt in my mind, that because of LED, we will finish that bottle.

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The Law of Equivalent Drinking was last modified: by

Ronna Benjamin

Ronna Benjamin

After 28 years of practicing real estate law, Ronna Benjamin realized how much she loved writing and how much she hated lawyering. She jumped into the world of writing at Better After 50 and never looked back! She is loving her “second act” as Partner and Managing Editor at Better After 50. Ronna writes humorously about the things BA50s are concerned about – personal experiences with adult children, the quirks of aging parents and in-laws, and her own emotional and physical health issues (i.e., insomnia, anxiety, and bulging waist lines). A native Bostonian who loves to spend time with her husband and three adult children, Ronna also enjoys sailing, cooking, running, and biking–and she tolerates skiing so she is not left home during family vacations. Check out her new book “We Are Better After 50 Because…” co-written by Ronna and her BA50 Partner Felice Shapiro, a perfect gift for the birthday girl in her 50’s! 

  18 comments for “The Law of Equivalent Drinking

  1. sharon
    February 12, 2013 at 6:55 am

    love this!! so true, so true…

    • Marcos
      February 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Nice ..

  2. Cathy Chester
    February 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Great article!

    My dad started a Wine Society in our area in 1970. He placed a small ad in a wine magazine. Today there are over 200 people with a waiting list. At 85 he still partakes, though our wine cellar has been sold after his stroke in 2000. Alas, he’s collecting again, and we are the beneficiaries of his purchases. My husband learned more from him than I over these past 25 years of marriage. But I do know what I like and what I don’t. Ironically the year of my birth, 1959, was a great year for wine.

    So now, my husband and I enjoy good wine together, and like to share our little hobby with friends. The best news? My son is now interested, starting a “scrapbook” of sorts by taking pics of the labels of wine we and my Dad share.

    It’s a great hobby and I like the LED approach. I toast you and your hubby – sounds like a lot of fun.

    PS I didn’t like the recent NYC cost of $18/glass – that’s ridiculous.

  3. February 12, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I don’t drink, except for the occasional glass of champagne or Vodka. Wine gives me terrible headaches. My husband rarely drinks at home, except for a beer now and then. This is why we have lots of friends who love to drink – to keep him company while he has his Chivas on the rocks or glass of red wine. Fortunately I enjoy being around drinking folks – and often it’s hard to tell I’m the only sober one!

    • Ronna Benjamin
      February 12, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Sharon! I have found a few glasses of water and a couple of Advil before bedtime does the trick after a glass (or two) of wine.

      • Daughter
        February 13, 2013 at 5:57 pm

        yes, better living through chemicals.

        • Ronna Benjamin
          February 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm

          Are we the perfect parental role models, or what? Always drink responsibly. Always have a designated driver. There- I have said it. But you are all wonderful kids so we must have done something right.

  4. Marlene Clayton
    February 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    All in fun, yes, but not a good law for the drunk ladies who are trying to keep their marriage together. One of you should stays sober to be the Dd or perhaps take care of ill child ,walk the dog etc. I think an independent person has the best chance of surviving marriage

  5. Amy Ruhlin
    February 12, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Ronna, you are too funny. Cheers!

  6. Linda D'Arcy
    February 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Ronna, I loved this essay! My husband and I have been married for 27 years- now I realize it’s because of the LED!
    We will have a toast to you tonight!

    • Ronna Benjamin
      February 12, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      You are not the only ones! Perhaps the #1 indicator for decades of happiness. We are going on 29!

  7. February 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Love learning a new concept that the LED is so that! My husband and I ED-ers and sharing a good bottle of red wine is just about the right thing almost any night. Ronna, thanks (I am having a glass now…)

  8. February 13, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Hi Ronna, if you saw my post ( on SecondLivesClub this week, you’ll see that I had to already start drinking the Prosecco for Valentine’s Day alone but pressure capped the rest to share with my husband Thursday. Carrie and I had fun buying the wines for that post; we’re very compatible that way. An issue I raised is how much moderation do we need to practice when imbibing in alcoholic beverages. We can figure that out for ourselves but not this week. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

    • Ronna Benjamin
      February 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      Have a safe and very happy Valentines Day, and no wonder the two of you get along so well! Thanks for all the wine suggestions and may you not throw away any of the leftovers!

      • February 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm

        What leftovers? 😉

  9. Sue
    May 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Well, that was depressing. We started out as LED(ers), but somewhere along the way he slowed way down which sucked for me so I just take it when I can get it. I probably would have ended up a lush anyway…

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