Quality of Marriage Impacts Heart Health
A new study has found that a person's health will suffer if they cannot be sure that their partner will either love them or fight with them regularly.
The results were found by researchers at Brigham Young University and challenge the assumption that just because someone is married, they will experience positive health benefits, The New York Times reports.
The study was published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine and looked at 94 straight, mostly white couples from Salt Lake City, Utah. The couples had been married for an average of 5.4 years, with the longest marriage being 41 years and the shortest just one year. Around 15 percent of the marriages studied had lasted for a decade or more.
The researchers asked the couples about their interactions with each other and had each spouse rate the interactions as positive or negative. Both spouses were employed to some degree, and none had children or anyone else living with them.
The researchers did not want the subjects to have children or other people in the home because they were afraid of how that would impact the relationship.
After interviewing the couples, the researchers took blood pressure measurements and had the subjects wear a blood pressure monitor for a day. The subjects then randomly recorded their blood pressure twice an hour and what they were doing at the time. They also recorded their feelings about their spouse at that moment and their general mood.
The researchers found that in marriages where anything could happen, where couples were either happily in love or at each other's throats, both men and women had higher blood pressure readings.
This suggests that it is the quality of marriage, and not just being married, that provides health benefits.