An unhappy marriage may be seriously detrimental to your health, according to psychologists. Researchers at the Universities of Nevada and Michigan monitored over 300 couples over their first 16 years of marriage, and discovered that arguments and lack of consensus about things like children, money, in-laws and hobbies caused negative health implications.
The researchers discovered that couples who agreed with each other more often in the beginning of their marriage experienced health benefits, but they wore off in later years of marriage.
According to the Guardian, “The health ratings were calculated by asking spouses to answer questions about their health, including whether their health interfered with their work, if they were healthy enough to do the things they wanted to do, if they were having trouble sleeping, if they were bothered by nervousness and feeling fidgety, and whether they were troubled by headaches.”
Past research discovered that conflict in a relationship can lead to multiple damages to the body including increased release of stress hormones and changes in appetite, both of which can lead to poor heart health or a weak nervous system.
Rosie Shrout, who presented results of the study at the International Association for Relationship Research Conference, said that experiencing a great deal of conflict in a marriage is just as detrimental as smoking and drinking.
“Conflict can be particularly damaging for health if spouses are hostile or defensive during disagreements or if they are arguing about the same topic over and over again without resolution,” Shrout said.
Though marital conflict affected both husband and wife, researchers noted that conflict had greater impact on the health of the male overall. For wives, the specific number of disagreement topics was not related to their health, but the husband’s health was driven by these topics.
Veronica Lamarche, professor of social psychology warned that these seemingly meaningless conflicts can cause long-term damage to the body.
“It isn’t the case that a single fight in a relationship will irreparably harm your health, but frequent fighting over many years will take a toll—it’s important to work on communicating with each other effectively to help minimize conflict.”