A 20-year study reveals that, in fact, marriages have a positive effect on the individuals’ physical health. However, the opposite is also true – unhappy marriages could have negative effects on physical health.
This is according to research from Brigham Young University that focused on 1 681 married individuals over 20 years, which is the longest study that has ever been done on this topic. Factors considered included happiness, satisfaction and marital problems (frequency and topics of arguments). Spouses proceeded to rate their own health, with researchers correlating it.
The poison behind arguments
Dr Jose Delerme, a clinical director at PinnacleHealth Psychological Associates in Harrisburg is of meaning that, “When a couple is happily married, you don’t see as much arguing, which leads to stress and anxiety, which of course impacts health… Stress will cause all kinds of health problems – headaches, stomachaches, backaches, trouble sleeping.”
According to the study, married couples encourage better habits in each other, such as drinking less, exercising more, sleeping better, regularly visiting doctors, etc. It is the sense of accountability that comes with having a partner that keeps you on track. Talking about problems between couples often lead to better problem-solving, rather than arguing. Delerme continues, “This makes perfect sense, they sleep better because they aren’t stressing over problems. They don’t drown their sorrow in a drink; they have each other to talk to when they are upset about something.”
Values have a role to play
Outpatient coordinator for Behavioral Health Services at Holy Spirit Hospital in Camp Hill, Launa Snyder, believes that compatibility and sharing the same values and interests encourage physical and emotional health. She says that a couple can complement each other, encourage each other and give much-needed support to each other. She agrees with Delerme’s point of view that married couples are there to share and talk about problems, relieving some anxiety and stress: “… you don’t take on the stress of the world alone.”
Interests too can benefit physical and emotional health. When you share, or at least understand and support, each other’s interests, and give each other the space to flourish without jealousy of individual successes, physical and emotional health will be encouraged, according to experts.
5 Strategies from the experts for a happier marriage
- It’s all about good communication. When you disagree, discuss it with the end result in mind – focus on resolving the matter, rather than being right. Often you’ll have to result to the wise saying: Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
- Families that play together, stay together – the old cliché is really true. Find some activity that interests both of you and practise it often.
- Socialise with other friends as a couple and as individuals. You sometimes will need to let off steam, get some perspective on something or just have a good time.
- Look to a higher power. Experts are of meaning that spirituality is comforting and can offer emotional support.
- If you are parents, be a united front and equally engage in your children’s lives.
Source: Pennlive.com, December 2013.