A bad marriage can be as unhealthy as smoking and drinking

Wedding 2018

Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O´Neill wedding June 2013 (Bengt Nyman, 2013)

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Keith Breene

We’ve been told many times that marriage is good for your health; on average married people live healthier, longer lives.

But a new study suggests that if the marriage is a bad one, the opposite is true. And husbands seem to be more affected than wives.

Researchers at the US universities of Nevada and Michigan monitored 373 heterosexual couples over the first 16 years of their marriage to see whether disagreeing about topics such as child rearing, money, in-laws and hobbies had any negative health implications.

Researchers then compared the health of wives and husbands who reported a greater number of conflict topics to those who reported fewer.

The results showed that marital conflict negatively affected health for both husbands and wives, although conflict had a greater impact on men.

The health ratings were calculated by asking spouses questions about their health, including whether their health interfered with their work, if they were healthy enough to do the things they wanted to do, if they were having trouble sleeping, if they were bothered by nervousness and feeling fidgety, and whether they were troubled by headaches.

Health was scored out of five, with a higher score being healthier. Low-conflict couples reported an average score of 4.07 at the start of marriage, but high-conflict couples were unhealthier from the outset, with an average score of 3.86.

Healthy relationships

Previous research has concentrated on the health benefits of marriage with studies finding that people with high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes all fared better if they had a spouse. Survival rates for heart attacks were also improved.

There is also evidence that married people see a doctor earlier than single people with the same symptoms which has a beneficial impact on survival rates.

Different risks

Just as a good marriage can apparently bring a variety of health benefits, a bad one can negatively impact in a number of ways.

Conflict in a relationship can lead to responses in the body such as inflammation, changes in appetite and increased release of stress hormones, all of which can affect aspects of health ranging from heart function to the immune system.

“Experiencing a great deal of conflict in a relationship is very damaging to health, as are negative health behaviours like smoking and drinking,” says Rosie Shrout, who presented the results of the study at a conference in Colorado.

“It’s not the act of walking down the aisle or signing a marriage licence that is beneficial for health – it’s what spouses do for each other throughout the marriage … Conflict can be particularly damaging for health if spouses are hostile or defensive during disagreements or if they are arguing about the same topic over and over again without any resolution,” says Shrout.

Veronica Lamarche, a professor of psychology at the University of Essex told the Guardian that bodily responses to relationship conflict can cause long-term damage.

“It isn’t the case that a single fight in a relationship will irreparably harm your health, but frequent fighting over many years will take a toll – it’s important to work on communicating with each other effectively to help minimize conflict.”

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

‘Virtual Biopsy’ device detects skin tumours in 15 minutes

Will Cameron succeed in keeping UK inside the EU and reverse the present economic downturn?

Germany is trying to rescue its fabled forests from climate change

‘The clock is ticking’ on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, says UN deputy chief

FROM THE FIELD: Faces and Voices of Conflict

Fairer and clearer rules on social benefits for EU mobile workers agreed

Asylum: deal to update EU fingerprinting database

For resilient, sustainable city mobility after COVID-19, these trends must continue

The gateway to carbon pricing? Air pollution policy

These 2 teenagers have helped change the law on plastic pollution in Indonesia

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over INWIT by Telecom Italia and Vodafone, subject to conditions

The EU Commission vies to screen Chinese investment in Europe

Lebanon: EU delivers additional emergency assistance following the explosion in Beirut

EU Budget 2019 to focus on young people

EU budget: Stepping up the EU’s role as a security and defence provider

UN launches new fund to advance sustainable development in Aral Sea region

Euro-Mediterranean Assembly fixes its permanent seat in Rome

More effort needed to improve equity in education

National parks transformed conservation. Now we need to do the same for the ocean

JADE at European Business Summit 2015

Human rights breaches in Nigeria and Burundi

Ninja innovation and the future of work

UN chief urges Somalis not to be ‘deterred’ by latest deadly terror attack

Mexico: Helping refugees go into business, a ‘win-win situation’, says UNHCR’s Grandi

Telemedicine can be a COVID-19 game-changer. Here’s how

Some endangered languages manage to thrive. Here’s how

Migration and the climate crisis: the UN’s search for solutions

At G20 Summit OECD’s Gurría says collective action vital to tackle global challenges

Spirit unlimited

Yemen: Tackling the world’s largest humanitarian crisis

Central banking in times of complexity

Migration crisis update: lack of solidarity not only among EU leaders but also EU officials

LGBTQI+ and health care: do they deserve more attention from medical universities?

Azeri natural gas will keep the EU warm soon

Desires for national independence in Europe bound by economic realities

The use of technology in medicine: How to not deconstruct our ethics

How venture capital can transform global health

Can the US deal a blow to EU and Russia together over Ukraine?

The world must pull together to stem the urgent crisis in our ocean

A Sting Exclusive: “Our ambition is by 2020 Indonesia to become an emerging power of World’s Maritime Access”, reveals the Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Indonesia in Brussels, treating WEF, ASEAN and EU-Indonesia relations on the eve of the World Economic Forum East Asia 2015 in Jakarta

Banking Union: Non-performing loans in the EU continue to decline

Malaria could make a comeback thanks to COVID-19

How to tackle the perils of air pollution

A world first: Women at the helm of every UN Regional Commission

How to prevent a suicide?

‘Massive and protracted’ humanitarian crisis in DR Congo can be ‘beaten back’ if donors step up

‘Historic’ moment: Palestine takes reins of UN coalition of developing countries

3 charts that show the economics of European football

ECB: Growth measures even before the German elections

How green investment will help Latin America and the world fight climate change

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: The fruits of sustainability and decent work

5 things you need to know about water

How supply chain transparency can help businesses make the right calls

EU and U.S. castigate Facebook on Cambridge Analytica scandal as citizens’ data privacy goes down the drain again

Lack of involvement, or lack of opportunities?

We have a chance to build the gender-equal workplaces of the future. Here’s how

3 reasons why civil society is essential to COVID-19 recovery

Eurozone: Subdued inflation can lead to more recession

‘No steps taken’ so far to end Israel’s illegal settlement activity on Palestinian land – UN envoy

New UN poverty report reveals ‘vast inequalities’ between countries

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s