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Health and Marriage October 6, 2007

Filed under: How-To — hairbygio @ 2:54 pm


Health and Marriage: the way you fight with your spouse is more important than how often you fight


from LifeTwo blogs by Wesley

Add “how you argue with your spouse” to such lifestyle choices as diet, exercise, and smoking in determining your health profile. If you really want to be healthy, after you finish your daily run and are munching on your organic greens, tell your spouse what you really thing. This advice is based on a study of 4,000 men and women and how they handle verbal marital disputes and reported in the New York Times.

Researchers asked participants whether they typically vented their feelings or kept quiet in arguments with their spouse.

Notably, 32 percent of the men and 23 percent of the women said they typically bottled up their feelings during a marital spat. In men, keeping quiet during a fight didn’t have any measurable effect on health. But women who didn’t speak their minds in those fights were four times as likely to die during the 10-year study period as women who always told their husbands how they felt, according to the July report in Psychosomatic Medicine. Whether the woman reported being in a happy marriage or an unhappy marriage didn’t change her risk.

The Times piece also noted that other research on those who bottle up feelings during arguments showed psychological and physical health risks including depression, eating disorders and heart disease.

What was not tested, and may or may not be relevant, is what would happen if instead of speaking up, and instead of “bottling it up”, if participants worked on just “letting it go.” While it would be difficult to test for this admittedly overly-subjective conflict strategy, it does bring up an important point. Many things that are argued about are simply not worth arguing about. Yes, speaking your mind appears to be better for your health than holding it in, perhaps there is something better than dishing it back out. Regardless, the results are pretty clear, from the perspective of your personal health, if you can’t let go, it is better to speak up than not. (Note: if you don’t agree with this you are better off leaving me a comment telling me so than holding it inside.)


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