Christine Proulx, assistant professor in the University of Missouri Department of Human Development and Family Studies, examined the long-term relationship between self-rated health and marital quality.
She found that, in all stages of marriage, positive or negative relationships affect the individual's health.
Spouses should be aware that how they treat each other and how happy they are in their marriages affect both partners' health, and they should think more about their personal relationships when thinking holistically about their health, she said, the Journal of Family Psychology reports.
"Engaging with your spouse is not going to cure cancer, but building stronger relationships can improve both people's spirits and well-being and lower their stress," Proulx said, according to a Missouri statement.
Proulx analyzed data from 707 continuously married adults who participated in the Marital Instability Over the Life Course panel study, a 20-year, nationwide research project started in 1980 with funding from the Social Security Administration's Office of Research and Statistics and the National Institute on Aging.
Proulx co-authored the study with Linley Snyder-Rivas, an alumna of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences.