How Health Plays a Role in Your Relationship
Dr. Jess     
A rich body of research suggests that marriage is good for your health and your pocketbook. But what if you’re in an unhappy relationship?

A rich body of research suggests that marriage is good for your health and your pocketbook. But what if you’re in an unhappy relationship? What are the health effects of tension and marital discord? Jess joined Jeff on The Morning Show to discuss a range of studies related to marriage and health. Watch the video and read the summary below.

1. We’ve heard that marriage is good for your health – is this still true?

  • Overall, marriage is tied to a range of health and social benefits: higher incomes, greater recovery rates, lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • A recent study found that marital quality’s relationship to physical health is as important as daily exercise and a healthy diet.

2. But what about if you’re in an unhappy relationship?

It’s not marriage alone that offers potential health benefits; the quality of the relationship matters:

  • Marital distress is tied to higher levels of depression and hypertension.
  • In unhappy relationships, your risk of metabolic syndrome (increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels which put you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease) is twice as high.
  • Research shows that stress hormones in the blood increase with the hostility of the disagreement.

3. And do your own behaviours change in response to relationship discord? (Sleep, eating, drinking)

When we’re stressed, we don’t sleep as well, we're more likely to drink and eat unhealthily.

4. And does your partner’s health affect your health? (diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome)

Your health behaviours tend to reflect those of your partner; if your partner has high blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar, your risk of developing the same condition is significantly increased. This may be explained by both the assertive mating and shared resource hypotheses.

5. What behaviours tend to contribute to marital discord?

The way couples communicate plays a significant role. Do they engage in demand-withdraw patterns? (One person asks for change and the other refuses to discuss it.) Do they engage in conversations when tensions run high or do they avoid intense conversations?

6. What can you do if you’re having marital problems and they don’t want the relationship to adversely affect their health?

  • You can see a therapist together; research suggests that when marital therapy works to lower relationship distress, stress hormone levels decrease.
  • You can take care of yourself first; change the way you eat, sleep and exercise regardless of whether or not your partner is willing to do the same and don’t use them as an excuse to maintain the status quo.

Dr. Jess

"An award-winning speaker, Jess has worked with thousands of couples from all corners of the globe to transform their relationships via her wildly successful Marriage As A Business program. From Prague and Istanbul to Albuquerque and New York City, her relationship retreats receive rave reviews from some of the most powerful couples in the world who are drawn to her enthusiastic, practical and no-nonsense approach to happily ever after. Jess's doctoral research focused on sexual health and relationship education and she is passionate about accessible, classroom-based education. When she isn't globetrotting for speaking engagements, she volunteers with students, teachers and social service organizations to empower young people to embrace healthy, happy relationships. As a global ambassador for several brands, Jess contributes regularly to the biggest names in international media. You'll find her advice weekly in the likes of Women's Health, Men's Fitness, Cosmopolitan, SELF, Showtime and The Movie Network. Her insights into couple' issues reaches millions of homes across America as the host of the hit reality series Swing, which just capped its fifth season on PlayboyTV. Canadian-born and Chinese-Jamaican and Irish by descent, Dr. Jess loves ultimate frisbee, crab, airplane turbulence, cheese and red wine. Makes perfect sense, right?"
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