A new research shows that marital arguments can have devasting consequences on the health of an individual, more so with advancing age . The National Institute on Aging has conducted the study titled, 'You Make Me Sick: Marital Quality and Health Over the Life Course' which highlights that strained relationships can contribute to stress.
The stress can infact affect the normal functioning of the immune system. Furthermore, the couple's unhappiness can alter the self-perception regarding the health status of an individual.
Debra Umberson and her colleagues at University of Texas interviewed nearly 1,049 couples in three different sessions. The study participants were required to rate their marriage quality over a five-point scale. Several aspects related to marriage satisfaction, willingness of spouse to listen to problems, and love between the couples were taken into consideration. The level of botheration about marriage and frequency of disagreements or conflicts were also included for the study.
The response of the participants was compared with their description of health. The researchers found that persona conflicts can make people feel sick. The effect of marital stress was more evident in older couples. In other words, with advancing age, people tend to give more importance to marital disagreements. 'Marital difficulties appear to matter more for our health as we age,' said the researchers.
This effect could perhaps be due to the fact that spouses become more psychologically dependent on each other owing to loss of family members or friends.
Previous studies have already established the importance of a happy marriage, indicating that it enables them to live longer and lead more prosperous lives. The focus of the present study is not to issue a call for divorce but to alert couples regarding the quality of marital life.
The health risk associated with poor quality marriages is much greater than seen in divorced individuals. The researchers therefore encourage couples to identify marital difficulties and take appropriate steps to rectify the same.