Unhappy marriages could mean shorter lives for men

By Dennis Thompson
Health Day reporter

TUESDAY June 29, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Men, take note: Unhappy wedding can end in divorce, but staying unhappy can also increase the risk of stroke or premature death, suggests a new Israeli study.

The increased risk was as high as that observed with smoking or a “couch potato” lifestyle, said lead researcher Shahar Lev-Ari, president of health promotion at Tel Aviv University’s School of Public Health.

Israeli men who expressed dissatisfaction with their marriage were 94% more likely to have a stroke in three decades of follow-up, and 21% more likely to die from any cause.

In comparison, a history of smoking increased the risk of death in men by 37% and an inactive lifestyle by 21%, according to the researchers.

“Assessing marital satisfaction and evaluating the health benefits of marriage education programs for young couples should be implemented as part of health promotion strategies for the general population,” Lev-Ari believes.

What is the link ? Men who are unhappy in their marriage might be more likely to suffer from problems like depression, anxiety and stress, all of which can increase stroke risk, experts said.

They might also be more likely to cope with these feelings through unhealthy behaviors like drinking, smoking, eating unhealthy food, or using drugs.

“When we feel good about our interpersonal relationships, we feel happy and adopt healthy behaviors,” said Brittany LeMonda, senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “When we don’t feel good around us, we are more likely to engage in less than ideal behaviors, to have more anxiety and to be disturbed. to sleep. “

For the study, Lev-Ari and his colleagues recruited nearly 9,000 male Israeli city officials and employees, who underwent a thorough assessment of their health and behavior. The research team then followed the health of these men for 32 years.

The results align with previous studies that have shown that an unhappy marriage can affect the longevity of husbands and wives, Lev-Ari said.

A 2019 study of the journal Psychological Sciences found that being happy with your spouse could reduce your risk of death by 13% or more during an eight-year follow-up, Lev-Ari said.

“Studies suggest that educating and training young couples in positive psychology techniques, communication skills, and parenting strategies can be beneficial in developing family resilience and improving marital satisfaction,” Lev-Ari said. “These techniques can be usefully implemented as part of health promotion strategies designed for the general population.”

LeMonda, who played no role in the study, noted that parenthood is also generally associated with longevity.

“It is possible that unhealthy married people are less likely to have children or may have more stressful situations related to their children,” she said.

“This study highlights the importance of healthy relationships and our need for strong social support and to feel connected to those we love,” LeMonda concluded.

The new study was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more on the health benefits of marriage.

SOURCES: Shahar Lev-Ari, PhD, chair, health promotion, Tel Aviv University School of Public Health, Israel; Brittany LeMonda, PhD, senior neuropsychologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York; Journal of Clinical Medicine, June 21, 2021

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