Can a happy relationship save your life?
If you’ve ever been in a bad relationship, you probably know that relationship problems can cause you mental anguish and emotional stress. So it only makes sense that being in a relationship where you have high levels of disagreements and conflict can also lead to physical health problems.
Not only can a toxic relationship be emotionally draining, make you feel bad with a sense of worry and dread, but it can also lead to trouble sleeping, adrenal fatigue, an increase in alcohol consumption, and the use or abuse of legal and illegal drugs.
In fact, a study at Michigan State University showed a 34% increase in heart problems for women with high levels of disagreements and conflict in their marriages. They were also found to have higher blood sugar levels and blood pressure, higher rates of obesity and lower levels of good cholesterol. Concerning, isn’t it?
Most staggering of all is a 2014 University of Copenhagen study that showed constant fighting with your partner can cause you to die 11 years sooner than those that are not fighting.
Brain studies have shown us that negative emotions are linked to a lower immune response against response. But that’s not all. In both sexes with greater marital concerns, these people were found to have more instances of diabetes, depression, heart attack and stroke. This is because emotions play an important role in regulating systems in the body that influence health.
I was recently invited by Talking Lifestyle radio to speak on the topic, “Can a happy relationship save your life?”
Here’s a summary of the tips for improving your relationship connection that I shared on this program:
- Create rituals of connection – hug each other from stomach to stomach when you come home from work and hold your embrace for 3 long breaths. You should feel your partner relax as they start to let go of the stress of the day.
- 15-30 second kiss – kiss your partner for 15-30 seconds a day
- Bedtime appreciations – share 3 appreciations with your partner before you go to sleep, but never repeat the same appreciation twice. See how many nights you can go without repeating an appreciation.
- Reduce conflict – give up your need to be right in the relationship, don’t be passive-aggressive, use kind words, slow down your discussion, and repair upsets quickly.
- Bring excitement back into your relationship – do novel things, be sexually adventurous, do something thrilling, get out of your comfort zone, have a date night, or travel to an unusual country.
Do you need relationship help?
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.