A bad marriage can make you sick

Filed under: Just For Moms, Just For Dads, Health & Safety: Babies, Sex

The reasons why people stay in bad relationships are as varied as people themselves. Some stick it out for the sake of the children, some are afraid to be alone and some just can't financially make on their own. Whatever the reasons for staying in a union fraught with negativity and conflict, there is at least one good reason to consider doing something about it: your health.

A new study has found that those who suffer in marriages and other close relationships marked by negativity are at higher risk of developing heart disease. Roberto De Vogli, PhD, a researcher at University College London, led the study which involved 9,011 British civil servants with an average age in the mid 40's. They were asked to answer questions about their close personal relationships, with a focus on their primary relationship.

With more than 64 percent listing their spouse as their primary relationship, they answered questions about their interactions with those closest to them and the amount of emotional and practical support they received in these relationships. During a 12-year follow-up period, the researchers tracked the incidents of heart disease in those who completed the questionnaires. Of 8,499 respondents, 589 men and women reported developing heart disease.

While they found no link between the amount of practical and emotional support received and those who developed heart disease, they did find a connection with those who were in highly negative relationships. Those in a conflict-ridden marriage or close friendship were 34 percent more likely to develop a heart problem than those who were not.

De Vogli theorizes that the higher risk of heart problems are due a person's mental replaying of negative interactions. "It can activate emotional responses, including depression or hostility," he says. While the increased risk was found to be the same for men and women, the results suggest that those in lower-grade jobs were more likely to have negative relationships. Even more interesting was the finding that people who were never married were less likely to have negative close relationships.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.