Is Your Spouse Making YOU Sick?

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Previous research has demonstrated a strong link between marital quality and physical health.  This most recent study examined to what degree a spouse’s stress indirectly impact his or her mate’s health.

Researchers discovered stress and relationship quality have both direct and indirect effects on the cardiovascular system, confirming previous research. They also discovered that it is important to consider the couple as a whole rather than the individual when examining marriage and health.

Overall, some of the findings were surprising.

In particular, this study revealed that wives’ stress has important implications for husbands’ blood pressure, particularly in more negative relationships.

Specifically looking at the effects of negative relationship quality, researchers found that effects weren’t recognized when examining individuals but there were when examining interactions between both members of couple.

“We were particularly excited about these findings because they show that the effects of stress and negative relationship quality are truly dyadic in nature,” said lead author Kira S. Birditt, Ph.D.

“An individuals’ physiology is closely linked with not only his or her own experiences but the experiences and perceptions of their spouses. We were particularly fascinated that husbands were more sensitive to wives’ stress than the revers, especially given all of the work indicating that wives are more affected by the marital tie.”

In our marital counseling work my associates and I often talk to people who feel like they’ve lost the motivation to work on their troubled marriages.  In those times, it can be important to remember that how we relate to our spouse has profound consequences for our physical health, not just our emotional well-being.  To discover the healthy marriage habits that can lead to a healthier relationship and a healthier life, check out When Divorce is Not An Option:  How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love. 

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