Heart health, especially women’s, is very connected to relationship health. Research shows that happily married people (or people who are in happy long-term relationships) have lower levels of heart disease than single, divorced, or separated people. In contrast, divorce is connected to several heart diseases, and people in unhappy marriages are at a much higher risk for heart disease.
Facts about Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death all around the world. Depression, anxiety, anger, hostility, pessimism, and PTSD are all risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease. Stress also lowers levels of T-cells, which help the immune system to fight off infections.
Will the Argument Last Night Affect my Heart?
The negative effect on cardiovascular health is even more pronounced for older adults. Being in an unhappy marriage can cause stress, and stress directly impacts heart health. One major argument isn’t going to have a negative effect (at least to physical health), but consistent, negative interactions are likely to cause heart strain. It takes time for your body to accumulate the effects of stress so it makes sense for older people to be affected more.
Healthy Relationships Can Help Heart Health
Good marriages can also positively affect heart health. If a partner wants to lose weight, he or she can often motivate the other to exercise and eat better, even if the partner is resistant at first. People who are satisfied in their marriages tend to sleep better than those who are anxious or in conflict.
On the other hand, researchers from the University of Utah recently found that there may be a different correlation between heart health and marriage. They found that many of the characteristics that make people good at relationships also mean they are more likely to be healthy. They can deal with stress better and can sleep well.
In other words, folks don’t have to be married to have good heart health. Rather than thinking of marriage as a magic bullet, make sure you feel connected and valued in your existing relationships. Develop regular, satisfying connections with others. Learn how to address conflicts constructively and cooperatively. If you’re interested in improving your relationship, many find Toucan or other online or community-based marital courses helpful.