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The Remarried Life

Jul 10, 2018

Brian Mayer talks about how verbal conflict when it gets out of hand has been correlated to physical ailments and other medical conditions.  As a child, we were told that sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt.  New scientific research says that words can actually hurt just like sticks and stones.  Today we will talk about this important issue.  We hope you enjoy today’s episode.  For more information and additional resources please visit our website at

Today's Goodies

  • In relationships and marriages we spend a lot of time working on getting the communication and the connection between two people just right.  This is a good thing for lots of reasons.  It is good to connect on an emotional level.  It is good for the kids, good for families, good for your ability to balance work, friends, and families. 
  • However, did you know that relationships that are happy can also have a positive impact on your health.  This is the piece that most people don’t know, but new scientific research has shown a correlation between an unhappy relationship and your physical health. 
  • A study from Ohio State University’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research worked with 42 couples.  They made some tiny suction wounds on on their hands.  Then the couples were asked to talk about a tense subject.  The researchers also paid attention to the way in which they argued and how long it took for the couple to bounce back.
  • The results of this study were somewhat astounding.  They discovered that couples whose disagreements were marked with lots of criticisms, put downs, interrupting had wounds that healed 40% slower than those couples whose disagreements still had lots of listening, respect, humor, and the ability to move on. 
  • This study and others like it also showed that for women the results are even more tough.  Women according to study are biologically have a different reaction to hostility for a couple of reasons:
    • Women tend to evaluate negativity accurately while men are somewhat oblivious.
    • Men forget exchanges rather quickly while women can replay them over and over again. 
  • The same researchers at Ohio State also did another study of newlywed couples and looked at stress hormone release after an argument or disagreement. 
  • In this study they found that, the stress hormones like cortisol and other remained elevated.  For women, the levels remained elevated much longer. 
  • Other studies, especially one from the University of Utah also took a closer look at women and what is known as metabolic syndrome and the issues surrounding that as it relates to happy and unhappy relationships. 
  • According to the Mayo clinic, Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat especially around the waist, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  All of these factors contribute to the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. 
  • So back to the study – men and women were both assessed for what they saw as positive and also what they saw as negative in their marriage.  Interestingly enough, a higher percentage of women that had depression about their marriage were more likely to have metabolic syndrome than men.  Again suggesting that while marital strain is tough for each gender, that it is tougher on women. 
  • So what does all this mean?  To put it bluntly, you will suffer health consequences and even have the potential to die an early death if relationship problems are not corrected. 
  • Did you know that the secret to living longer may be held in your social life.  According to a Ted Talk by Susan Pinker which is linked in the Resources section, she cited an interesting study that pointed this out. 
    • The tiny Italian island of Sardinia has six times as many centenarians (100+ year olds) as does the mainland and ten times as many as North America
    • It was discovered that two of the keys to long life there centered around being social integrated and also close relationships.  Believe it or not, things like not smoking, not drinking, exercising were found to not have as strong a link as these social and relationship components. 
  • What can you do to fight against these issues?
    • First recognize the cycles of arguments that you get into with each other.  Notice the ways in which you each react and respond.  There is no doubt a pattern that you will see emerge in how you escalate.
    • Secondly, work to know what your triggers are.  Maybe things don’t go well between the two of you when you have already been chewed out at work or if one of the kids is sick.  You may react to something different when you are under other stress.  Instead of reacting, make it known in a respectful calm way that you are stressed and that another time to discuss would be helpful. 
    • Ask your partner for what you need.  If that is to be talked to more gently or to be heard a bit more then ask for that.  Talking about how you argue when you are calm can go much better typically.  It is not full proof but can help. 
  • Just remember, your constant escalation of arguments that cause bitterness and resentment are also affecting your body.  Also remember the way in which you speak to partner also has been shown to correlate with their physical health.  Think about this the next time you discussion starts to get off the rails.   


The High Price of a Bad Relationship
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
The Secret To Living Longer by Susan Pinker – Ted Talk Video

Thanks For Listening!

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As always remember that marriage is nothing something you have, it is something you do.  Talk to you next week unless you are binge listening in the future in which case I will talk to you in about a minute!  Take care.