Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is Marriage Good for Your Health? Maybe...Maybe Not


Excerpts from a New York Times article entitled: IS MARRIAGE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH? about research findings on the impact of relationships on health:

"Scientists have continued to document the “marriage advantage”: the fact that married people, on average, appear to be healthier and live longer than unmarried people. Contemporary studies, for instance, have shown that married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer or have heart attacks....."

"New research is increasingly presenting a more nuanced view of the so-called marriage advantage. Several new studies, for instance, show that the marriage advantage doesn’t extend to those in troubled relationships, which can leave a person far less healthy than if he or she had never married at all...."

"One recent study suggests that a stressful marriage can be as bad for the heart as a regular smoking habit. And despite years of research suggesting that single people have poorer health than those who marry, a major study released last year concluded that single people who have never married have better health than those who married and then divorced...."

"...a second marriage didn’t seem to be enough to repair the physical damage associated with marital loss. Compared with the continuously married, people in second marriages still had 12 percent more chronic health problems and 19 percent more mobility problems."

"... results suggest that there are important differences between men and women when it comes to health and the style of conflict that can jeopardize it. The women in this study who were at highest risk for signs of heart disease were those whose marital battles lacked any signs of warmth, not even a stray term of endearment during a hostile discussion (“Honey, you’re driving me crazy!”) or a minor pat on the back or squeeze of the hand, all of which can signal affection in the midst of anger....Men were at risk for a higher coronary calcium score, however, when their marital spats turned into battles for control. It didn’t matter whether it was the husband or wife who was trying to gain control of the matter; it was merely any appearance of controlling language that put men on the path of heart disease."

"The solution....isn’t to stop fighting. It’s to fight more thoughtfully. “Difficulties in marriage seem to be nearly universal,” he said. “Just try not to let fights be any nastier than they need to be.”"

"...research shows that some level of relationship stress is inevitable in even the happiest marriages. The important thing...is to use those moments of stress as an opportunity to repair the relationship rather than to damage it. “It can be so uncomfortable, even in the best marriages, to have an ongoing disagreement,”... “It’s the pit-in-your-stomach kind of thing. But when your marital relationship is the key relationship in your life, a disagreement is really a signal to try to fix something.”"

2 comments:

Jaliya said...

"Maybe ... Maybe not" is the only possible answer to that question, isn't it ... There are so many variables and factors in every marriage, so many possibilities, so much held sacred and secret and never revealed to anyone else ...

This question right now prompts me to respond, "Yes and no" ... similar to "Maybe ... Maybe not" ... also "Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes meh ..."

My marriage was once my holy nest of home; now my marriage is dead. Once upon a time, I'd have never imagined this end ... but I've also become agnostic in attitude towards just about everything ... There is very little in life that we can predict the course of, other than perhaps its basic outline ...

When my marriage was harmonious, I never felt more alive. There's nothing like feeling truly *mated* with another person ...

Too much stress, injury and illness for too long -- this is what eroded my marriage. Excessive stress seems to unlock unfathomable "x-factors" in every person and relationship ...

Barbara, there's a book you might want to read. It's my desert-island book on good relation -- Of all that I've read, this book stands out as saying everything that needs to be said about how deep relation sustains us ... and what happens when relation is denied, denigrated, destroyed ...

It's called *A General Theory of Love* -- by Thomas Lewis, MD, et al. Originally published in 2000. Hard science presented through a lyrical, poetic sensibility. The writing itself knocks my socks off -- and the facts are indisputable.

Jamie Valendy said...

Thank you for sharing the link to this article. It was an interesting read... from several viewpoints.