A New York Times article titled “Is marriage good for your health?” recently caught my attention. It detailed the history of research into the effects of marriage on personal health as well as some of the most recent findings, such as:
- couples who were more negative and hostile when they argued or discussed contentious topics had the weakest immune-systems during the research period
- the most hostile couples (during arguments) had wounds (skin wounds inflicted for the study) that took two days longer to heal than those of “couples who had showed less animosity while fighting”
- divorced or widowed people had worse health than people who had been always been single
How to Keep Your Marriage Healthy
So the question is, how do you create and maintain a marriage that benefits your health? Here are a few tips that we’ve seen work over the years.
- Prepare for a healthy marriage. While it may sound obvious, many couples don’t build a strong foundation of love, support, and partnership before they tie the knot. Using tools like the Marriage Vow Workbook can help you put your relationship on strong footing before you head down the aisle.
- Learn to communicate effectively. Again this seems like common sense to most people, yet few take the time to actually do it. Whether you see a counselor, take communication classes, or use books like Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication, find tools to help you and your partner communicate with compassion and honesty.
- Take time to heal wounds you inflict on each other. No matter how good our intentions or developed our skills, we will do things that are unloving and harmful to each other. Practice forgiveness and other ways of healing old hurts rather than letting them fester. Based on the research it seems this will be good for your physical health and well as the future success of your marriage.
Do you have specific ways you keep your marriage healthy? If so, we’d love to have your comments. Let’s learn from each other and make all our relationships even better.
“If you learn to how to manage disagreement early, then you can avoid the decline in marital happiness that follows from the drip, drip of negative interactions.”~ Linda J. Waite, University of Chicago sociologist and an
author of one of the studies cited in the NYT article