Frequent arguments with partners, relatives, or neighbors may boost the risk of death from any cause in middle age, suggests research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. (See Science Daily for full article)
Researchers quizzed almost 10,000 men and women aged 36 to 52 about their everyday social relationships. The researchers focused particularly on who, among partners, children, other relatives, friends and neighbors, made excess demands, prompted worries, or was a source of conflict, and how often these arose. They also considered whether having a job made any difference.
The health of the study participants was tracked from 2000 to the end of 2011. Between 2000 and 2011, 196 women (4%) and 226 men (6%) died. Almost half the deaths were from cancer, while heart disease/stroke, liver disease, and accidents and suicide made up the rest.
Around one in 10 study participants said that their partner or children were a frequent or constant source of excess demands and worries; around one in 20 (6%) and a further 2% claimed this for relatives and friends, respectively.
Similarly, 6% had frequent arguments with their partner or children, 2% with other relatives, and 1% with friends or neighbors.
After taking account of a range of influential factors, including gender, marital status, long term conditions, depressive symptoms, available emotional support, and social class, as defined by job title, the analysis indicated that frequent worries or demands generated by partners and/or children were linked to a 50%-100% increased risk of death from all causes. But constant arguing seemed to be the most harmful for health.
Frequent arguments/conflicts with anyone in the social circle — ranging from partners and relatives to friends and neighbors — were associated with a doubling to tripling in the risk of death from any cause compared with participants who said these incidents were rare.
To be completely honest, the considerably higher risk of death related to frequent arguing surprised even me. I see how conflict–especially marital conflict–affects people’s sense of health and well-being every day, but this recent study really demonstrated to me the importance of seeking professional help early if you feel that your life is being defined or consumed by conflict. If you’re tired of the conflicts in your life, check out God Help Me, These People Are Driving Me Nuts! to discover how to resolve disagreements peacefully and deal with conflict more gracefully. Or, if you need more support, feel free to contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute (Appointment Line: 740-266-6461) to learn how our Catholic Tele-Counseling Practice can help you experience greater peace and freedom from conflict in all your relationships. We can help you live a happier (and, apparently, longer & healthier) life!