The Influence of Couples’ Living Arrangements on Smoking Habits and Body Weight

Thomas Klein, Ingmar Rapp, Björn Schneider


This article examines the influence of intimate relationships on smoking habits and body weight. We differentiated between couples living apart together, cohabitating couples and married couples. The data basis is the Partnermarktsurvey, a German representative telephone survey of 2,002 people aged between 16 and 55 years. The results show that living in a relationship promotes smoking cessation, however only when the partners live together. This indicates that the positive protection effect of relationships on smoking habits is based on the mechanism of social control and social support, which is linked to the context of a shared household. In addition, we observed the homogamy in smoking habits of partners that arises as early as mate selection and is intensified through assimilation processes during the relationship. With regard to body weight, the study shows a weight gain over the course of a relationship which is, however, not greater among married and cohabitating couples than among couples living apart together.


Relationship living arrangements; Body mass index; Smoking; Partnermarktsurvey; Health behaviour

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