... but so is bot­tling it up, study finds

7 Days in Dubai - - WELLBEING -

t’s of­fi­cial, your other half could well be af­fect­ing your health. Many peo­ple will have long sus­pected that ar­gu­ing with her in­doors is not a good idea. And not just be­cause you will lose. Re­search sug­gests that be­hav­iour in an ar­gu­ment has a link to health later in life. A team from the UC Berke­ley and North­west­ern Univer­sity has con­ducted re­search over a 20-year pe­riod, and the re­sults show how ar­gu­ments be­tween mar­ried cou­ples could re­late to spe­cific health out­comes.

Ac­cord­ing to the study, car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems are in store for in­di­vid­u­als who tended to re­spond in an ar­gu­ment with out­bursts of anger.

Con­versely, those who shut down or stonewall dur­ing a row are at risk of mus­cu­loskele­tal ail­ments, such as stiff mus­cles and bad backs.

Study lead au­thor Clau­dia Haase, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of hu­man de­vel­op­ment and so­cial pol­icy at North­west­ern Univer­sity, said: “We looked at mar­i­tal-con­flict con­ver­sa­tions that lasted just 15 min­utes and could pre­dict the de­vel­op­ment of health prob­lems over 20 years for hus­bands based on the emo­tional be­hav­iours that they showed dur­ing th­ese 15 min­utes.”

She added: “Con­flict hap­pens in every mar­riage, but peo­ple deal with it in dif­fer­ent ways. Some of us ex­plode with anger, some of us shut down.

“Our study shows that th­ese dif­fer­ent emo­tional be­hav­iours can pre­dict the de­vel­op­ment of dif­fer­ent health prob­lems in the long run.”

The study tracked the lives of 156 cou­ples since 1989, with re­searchers film­ing the cou­ples, who are now in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, every five years when they dis­cussed their lives and ar­eas of dis­agree­ment and en­joy­ment. To track dis­plays of anger, the re­searchers mon­i­tored the video­taped con­ver­sa­tions for be­hav­iours such as lips pressed to­gether, knit­ted brows, voices raised or low­ered be­yond their nor­mal tone and tight jaws. Over­all, the link be­tween emo­tions and health out­comes was most pro­nounced for hus­bands, although the cor­re­la­tion also af­fected some of the wives.

The find­ings could spur hot­headed peo­ple to con­sider anger man­age­ment and dif­fer­ent tech­niques, while peo­ple who with­draw dur­ing con­flict might ben­e­fit from re­sist­ing the im­pulse to bot­tle up their emo­tions. Psy­chol­o­gist Robert Leven­son, a se­nior au­thor of the study, said: “For years, we’ve known neg­a­tive emo­tions are as­so­ci­ated with neg­a­tive health out­comes, but this study dug deeper to find that spe­cific emo­tions are linked to spe­cific health prob­lems.

“This is one of the many ways that our emo­tions pro­vide a win­dow for glimps­ing im­por­tant qual­i­ties of our fu­ture lives.”

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