Marriage May Fill Your Heart with Joy, but It Can Also Kill You

In a study conducted by psychology researchers at the University of Utah, some 150 healthy married couples helped to determine if arguments have a noticeable effect on calcification of the arteries that supply the heart muscle. The couples, mostly in their 60s, were recruited through newspaper ads and a polling firm. Each couple was paid $150 for their participation and the husbands and wives received a free CT scan of their hearts.

The study showed that hardening of the coronary arteries is more likely to occur in wives, when their husbands demonstrate hostility during arguments. Hardening of the arteries is more common in husbands when either spouse acts in a controlling manner during arguments. Study author Tim Smith, professor of psychology at the university, explained the purpose of the study by saying, “Women pay more attention to friendliness vs. hostility, and are more concerned when it’s out of line than are men. Men are more interested in issues of control in their lives.”

Each of the couples was asked to select a topic that was an ongoing source of debate in their marriage. They were then seated in comfortable chairs facing each other, and videotaped talking to each other about a variety of problems-money, children, in-laws, household chores, etc. Some of the couples engaged in “quite pointed” arguments, said Smith, despite knowing that they were being taped. Some couples were so hostile toward each other that researchers suggested they seek counseling.

Graduate students watching the tapes coded each conversation to indicate the extent to which the discussion was friendly or hostile, and submissive vs. dominant. For example, comments such as “You can be so stupid,” or “you’re too negative” were coded as hostile and dominant. But a comment such as “that’s a good idea” was coded to be warm and submissive. Based on the resulting scores for their conversations, each couple was ranked accordingly, as to which spouse was more hostile, dominant, controlling, or submissive. Two days later, each couple underwent their CT scans, and doctors used a standard scale to score each person’s level of coronary artery calcification, factoring out traditional risk factors such as weight, cholesterol levels, and family history.

The results of the study were dramatic, and definitely said something about the quality of each couple’s relationship. Matthew Sylvan, director of Psychocutaneous Medicine at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital’s department of dermatology in New York City, says that the tenor of a marriage affects the health of both partners. “The link between the mind and body is something I believe in strongly, and see all the time,” he said. While studies such as this one need more research and data to support the original findings, Silvan said he wasn’t surprised at the resulting conclusion that, men and women react physically to their marriages in different ways. “For a long time people thought of the mind and body as separate,” he said. “And more and more they see they aren’t separate. The two mutually influence each other.”

The mutual effect of marriage on the health of husbands and wives was further underscored by another recent study. The study, conducted by Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania and backed by the National Institute of Health, analyzed Medicare records from a national sample of more than half a million elderly couples over a 9-year period. The purpose of the study was to examine couples to see what health risks there might be for one spouse when the other is gravely ill or dies. Previous studies have shown that the spouses of sick people are more at risk of illness and death themselves, a phenomenon sometimes called “the caregiver burden” or the “bereavement effect.” This study was unique in that researchers examined an extraordinarily large group of couples, and also quantified the risk associated with a range of specific illnesses.

The results of the study showed that the risk is a considerable one. Men were 4.5% more likely than usual to die on any given day after their wives were hospitalized; women with sick husbands were almost 3% more likely to die. The researchers say that these risks increase because of the lack of companionship, practical help, income and other support that can happen when a spouse gets sick. If the sick spouse then dies, the partner’s risk of death by any means-accidents, suicide, infections, or pre-existing conditions-rises by 21% for men and 17% for women.

The partner’s death risks were highest in the six months after the spouse was hospitalized for a severely disabling problem. Older people were especially vulnerable. Researchers have suggested that the effects of a spouse’s illness on the partner should be taken into account by families, social service workers, and doctors. “You can die of a broken heart not just when a partner dies, but when your partner falls ill,” said Harvard Medical School chief researcher Dr. Nicholas Christakis. “What it means to me is that people are interconnected, and so their health is interconnected.”

5 Secrets of a Successful Marriage

Every society recognizes marriage through different mannerisms. Some actually preach both spouses to give up the idea if it doesn’t live up to their expectations. This is rare, except in cases of the olden days, where polygamy was rampant. Although we believe that love is the essence of a great marriage – the very foundation, it’s also true that there are some generic rules that apply to any marital bond (despite geographical and cultural differences).

Boost His Ego
Though many might not agree with this rule, it actually holds true.
We are humans and tend to stereotype roles, as soon as we imbibe them. The universal problem of ‘Men and their ever-growing egos’ exists all around the world.
As a human tendency, women tend to resist and battle these out in what they know as letting out steam.
What you really need to do is simply keep quiet; because in the fit of anger that a man is so proud of, he would neither hear you out nor would he ever understand the depth of your advice.
As profound as it may sound, it’s good to practice non-violence at this stage, thereby allowing his ego to grow.
Consequently, he will mellow down and salvage his pride.
Write Down
As ridiculous as it may sound, even the most precise man in this world makes mistakes.
Remember at school, when your teacher would insist that all math equations needed practice; and practice would only be sufficient, when they would be written down.
Writing things is a good habit that improves a lot many things in life.
Firstly, it makes you understand what you’ve written thanks to the continuous flow of words on paper.
Secondly, it makes your brain more sharp, thereby making you less prone to the usual mistakes that drive couples into petty arguments.
Furthermore, it also makes you more disciplined and at peace with yourself to make major decisions that would ultimately make life easy.
What’s even better is that when you note the finer nuances of whatever took place at the time, it will be easy to put up a great fight, when you’ve armed yourselves with the exact situation if the need for a battle should arrive (God forbid!).
Spend Time
When we speak of quality time, we normally interpret it as the good times spent with each other.
What we need to remember is that normal life is spent in pursuing everyday aspirations.
So, after the accomplishment of each goal is when you really need to take time off. That’s what really means quality time.
This time you can spend in just about anything – sharing housework, reading, learning a new skill, exercising, etc. Being together is the key.
Appreciate and Laugh
Men like women, who can appreciate and laugh at themselves, as they consider women to be the forever lot of conniving sex.
There are two distinct advantages of this: (i) it makes you a great sport, making you aware of your flaws and allowing you to improve upon them; and (ii) it makes you more cheerful.
Believe it or not, laughing at yourself also adds a new dimension in your spouse’s eyes.
These cheerful moments will surely be a catalyst in making your marriage successful.
Be Diplomatic
Remember that a large part of a woman’s life is dominated by the imbalance of her hormones.
At times, she may not even know why she feels the way she does.
During such times, you just cannot control the ire that has only just reached at your mouth’s gateway or has just twitched the finger of your right hand and is compelling you to raise it.
It is at these times that you need to use diplomacy.
As hard as it may be to control one’s anger, you need to do this for the sake of your woman, as she really cannot control the way she is.
Bear in mind that a woman is an important deciding factor of the marriage’s success. So, try and adjust with her fluctuating mood swings.
Most communities only teach you the fact that marriage is forever, ‘until death do us part’. But you need to keep the aforementioned pre-decided factors in mind in order to make your relationship a success.