How our mate af­fects our health

The Covington News - - Local news -

When I was young, one piece of wis­dom passed on to me by my fa­ther was, “Be care­ful how you choose a wife. She will have a big in­flu­ence on your suc­cess in life.” Sound enough ad­vice, but he didn’t tell me that she would have a big in­flu­ence on my phys­i­cal health as well. When two peo­ple fall in love, they are not es­pe­cially think­ing of how the other will im­pact their choles­terol lev­els, but there is a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence demon­strat­ing that our choice in part­ner can have huge ef­fects on our phys­i­cal well­be­ing.

It’s not hard to un­der­stand some in­flu­ences. For in­stance, if one spouse of a smok­ing cou­ple quits, the other is not only more likely to quit, they are six to eight times more likely to quit. A sim­i­lar process hap­pens with a drink­ing cou­ple. One part­ner stops drink­ing, the other is five times more likely to quit. Ro­man­tic part­ners tend to have more in­flu­ence on our be­hav­iors than any­one else. A cou­ple that starts dat­ing might find them­selves go­ing out to bars and restau­rants a lot and con­sum­ing more al­co­hol, cof­fee, cheese and rich food. Stud­ies have shown that love birds tend to trade vices such as smok­ing, drink­ing and drug use.

When two peo­ple marry, their habits tend to be­come even more alike. Re­searchers have dis­cov­ered that spouses in­flu­ence each oth­ers’ ex­er­cise habits, physi­cian vis­its, al­co­hol con­sump­tion and mar­i­juana use. When one soul mate has an ill­ness, in many in­stances, it in­creases the like­li­hood their make will have the same ill­ness. This has been found to be true for can­cer, stroke, arthri­tis, hy­per­ten­sion, asthma, de­pres­sion and pep­tic ul­cer dis­ease. One study shows that you are twice as likely to be hy­per­ten- sive if your spouse has high blood pres­sure. Spouses can even de­velop health prob­lems as a re­sult of their mate’s emo­tional health. One study shows that men who have wives are fre­quently up­set by their work are three times more likely to de­velop heart dis­ease.

There are sub­tle ef­fects we have on our mates. The wife of a man who snores loudly de­vel­ops in­som­nia and suf­fers the ef­fects of chronic sleep de­pri­va­tion. When there is hos­til­ity in a mar­riage, the woman is more likely to have coro­nary artery dis­ease then those in more san­guine re­la­tion­ships. Men in con­trol­ling re­la­tion­ships, whether they are the boss or the one be­ing bossed around, have more coro­nary artery dis­ease then those in more equal re­la­tion­ships.

On the pos­i­tive side, some pairs min­i­mize the risk of phys­i­cal mal­adies by at­tend­ing cou­ples ther­apy. Ther­apy is likely to pro­vide ben­e­fi­cial af­fects on con­trol­ling or hos­tile be­hav­iors or me­di­ate stress prone dis­po­si­tions that can weaken the health of one or both part­ners. While it has long been demon­strated that psy­chother­apy can im­prove phys­i­cal health, it only stands to rea­son that ther­apy that im­proves the emo­tional health of the re­la­tion­ships would, in turn, con­trib­ute to in­crease health ben­e­fits for both.

So to re­phrase my fa­ther’s ad­vice, “Be care­ful how you choose your spouse. They may well de­ter­mine whether you live a long and healthy life or a short one prone to ill­ness.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.