Divorce can cause a lot of stress for separating couples. Many couples don’t divorce out of the blue either. There is often a period full of stress that precedes two people legally separating. Scientists know that stress has adverse effects on the body and can cause individuals to neglect their health. However, a new study shows that men may be receiving hidden health benefits from negative relationships while women may experience the opposite.
Marriages Preventing Diabetes
Hui Liu is an associate professor of sociology at Michigan State University in East Lansing. She is also the lead investigator for the aforementioned study. Liu and her colleagues took data that included over 1,000 married couples from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. They found that 389 of the couples had diabetes by the end of the study.
Liu found some interesting results from the research. According to her study, men who reported having low-quality marriages also had a lower risking of getting diabetes. However, women in low-quality marriages did not show the same results. Satisfactory marriages actually yielded better health in women.
Interpreting The Data
Liu’s study claimed that these results were based on how diabetes is managed. Controlling one’s blood sugar requires constant check-ins. Liu thinks, for men, a spouse’s concern for their husband’s health is seen as emotionally tiring. Spouses may feel the need to remind their husbands to watch their diet, to avoid sugars, and to exercise regularly. While this may not foster positive emotions in men, it may be what is preventing them from getting diabetes.
Heart Disease In Women
Menopause usually hits women in their 40s and 50s. During this time, women can more easily develop cardiovascular problems. Diana Bitner, MD, a physician from West Michigan, says, “In the first five years after menopause, the risk factors for cardiovascular disease escalate quickly if you aren’t living a healthy lifestyle and/or on menopause hormone therapy.” Although Bitner works in Grand Rapids, her statement seems to speak to the female side missing from of Liu’s study.
The number of couples who divorce over the age of 50 has gone up. So-called “gray divorces” have increased by two to three times their rate from two decades ago. Applying Liu’s study to this data, one might conclude that a supportive husband may help women reduce cardiovascular issues. If quality marital relationships are a boon to female health, then they may help women avoid age-related heart issues.
The Silver Lining
Although Liu’s study has some unique implications on health, there is some underlying hope. Instead of looking at a relationship’s weak points as purely negative, Liu reminds people that there is a silver lining. The study reminds men that their spouses may be looking out for their health instead of nagging. Women may take from the study that maintaining positive relationships could help offset the effects of menopause on the heart. They may also choose to remove themselves from a failing relationship sooner to reduce stress to their hearts.
Divorce can be looked at in a positive way through the lens of Liu’s study. Although divorce is a legal separation, it is also the end of something that is broken. With Liu’s study, divorce can be both good for the mind and for the body.
Henion, A. (2016, May 26). Rocky Marriages Not Always Bad For Your Health. MSU Today. Retrieved on June 1, 2016, from http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2016/rocky-marriages-not-always-bad-for-your-health/
Hochwald, L. (2016, May 27). 6 Ways A Woman’s Body Will Change When She Turns 50. Mother Nature Network. Retrieved on June 1, 2016, from http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/6-ways-womans-body-will-change-when-she-turns-50