Marital Joy

Liu set out to learn how marital quality is related to risk of heart disease over time, and whether this relationship varies by gender and/or age. Among her findings:

  • Negative martial quality (e.g., spouse criticizes, spouse is demanding) has a bigger effect on heart health than positive marital quality (e.g., spousal support). In other words, a bad marriage is more harmful to your heart health than a good marriage is beneficial.
  • The effect of marital quality on cardiovascular risk becomes much stronger at older ages. Over time, the stress from a bad marriage may stimulate more, and more intense, cardiovascular responses because of the declining immune function and increasing frailty that typically develop in old age, Liu said.
  • Marital quality has a bigger effect on women’s heart health than it does on men’s, possibly because women tend to internalize negative feelings and thus are more likely to feel depressed and develop cardiovascular problems, Liu said.
  • Heart disease leads to a decline in marital quality for women, but not for men. This is consistent with the longstanding observation that wives are more likely to provide support and care to sick husbands, while husbands are less likely to take care of sick 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 said.
    Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write about a marriage gone bad and show through internal monologue how it affects both partners and their health.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a relationship you had that affected your health.

Art Prompt: Marital bliss

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the correlation between happiness in a relationship and heart health.

Photo Credit: Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. on Flickr

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