There are plenty of studies that say that marriage is good for you, both for your mental and physical health. But if things aren’t going well, the opposite is true. Rocky relationships can actually be bad for your health. Heartbreak for instance is really painful emotionally. What is less well known is that it can also lead to heart disease. Research published in the American Medical Association’s journal found that medium to extreme marital stress gave women a 2.9 times higher chance of getting heart disease, suffering a heart attack and needing heart surgery. Diabetes, smoking, age, bad cholesterol and blood pressure were all taken out of the equation. Whether they were married or not wasn’t the issue. Cohabitating women showed similar results.
Another study published in 2006 in the American Journal of Cardiology found that couples with the most difficult marriages and in tandem had a chronic disease such as congestive heart failure were more likely to die within four years. Though one study revealed that a healthy, committed relationship is beneficial to mental health, the opposite is true as well. The Journal of Health and Social Behavior published a study in 2003 that showed that those in a rocky relationship had far worse mental health than their single counterparts.
An unhappy marriage isn’t just bad for your mental health. Studies have shown that it can mimic the negative health effects of smoking or inactivity for women. According to a study presented at the American Psychosomatic Society’s back in 2009, those who experienced more arguments and fights in their relationship had high blood sugar, high blood pressure, lower levels of good cholesterol and high triglyceride levels. What’s more, a study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine back in 1993 revealed that newlyweds who took part in a heated argument had lower immune system functions. Constant relationship stress certainly does harm the body’s functioning.
A review published in the journal Physiology and Behavior in 2003 showed that unhappily married people were far worse off in terms of overall well-being that those who were single. These problems spill over into the workplace. Research published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that those who had a troubled marriage had higher levels of stress, at were at higher risk for serious health issues such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, obesity and depression. Lastly, relationship problems can make it more difficult for you to recover from disease. According to an article published in the journal Cancer in 2009, unhappy couples had functions that were impaired compared to those in solid relationships. What’s more, they were less likely to adhere to healthy behaviors including watching their diet and following doctor’s orders. For more on why it’s better to fly solo than crash and burn read, Better Single than Sorry: A No-Regrets Guide to Loving Yourself and Never Settling by Jen Schefft.