A new study claims that a bad marriage increases the risk of heart disease, especially for women.
Researchers analyzed five years of data from 1,200 married U.S. women and men of ages 57 to 85. The participants were part of a U.S. investigation called the National Social Life Health and Aging Project. The investigation included questions about marital quality and analyzed the rates of strokes, heart attacks and high pressure of the blood. The researchers from the Michigan State University said that individuals with spouses who were more demanding or excessively critical were found to be more likely of developing heart diseases than those with supportive life partners.
They also found that with age the harmful impact on the health of the heart because of a bad marriage increased. The effect of marital quality on the heart became much stronger with age. The same happens with the risk of artery diseases. This is probably because the stress related to marriage might be able to stimulate more intense and more cardiovascular responses because of decline of the immune function and fragility as people age.
Women were found to be more affected by the bad marriage and likely suffer more health problems. Hui Liu, an associate professor of sociology said an explanation as to why this might happen might be the way women repress feelings that are negative, this making them more likely to develop heart problems and depression.
They also found that heart problems tend to lead to a decline in marriage quality only for women. This is congruent to the belief that wives are more likely to support and take care of sick men, while husbands are less likely to do the same for their wives.
“In this way, a wife’s poor health may affect how she assesses her marital quality, but a husband’s poor health doesn’t hurt his view of marriage,”
Liu continued to say that the study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, online on November 19, demonstrates the need for support and marriage counseling for couples.
“Marriage counseling is focused largely on younger couples. But these results show that marital quality is just as important at older ages, even when the couple has been married 40 or 50 years,”