Have you ever witnessed a married couple fighting? Have you ever noticed that beyond curse words, they say silly things that do not make any sense? If you haven’t, rest assured that they will utter these words at one point in their argument, “Someday I will die because of you.” And everybody thought this was just one of those puns that married couples use for retaliation, but lo and behold, it is actually true. Well, partially true.
A study under the National Institute of Aging concluded that older couples, in the age range of 57 to 85 years who considered themselves in a bad marriage have an increased risk for heart diseases compared to those who are happily wed. This is most especially true for the women, who have shown to be more susceptible than the men. This study was led by a Michigan State University sociologist, Hui Lui and a Sociology professor at the University of Chicago, Linda Waite. The two sociologist analyzed 5 years of data that were coming from more than 1000 married men and women who were participants in the National Social Life, Health and Aging project. These married couples, whose are range were between 57 and 85, were asked to fill out a survey in the form of a questionnaire. The questions were mostly about the marriage of the couple for the past years that they have been together. Afterward, they underwent laboratory tests relating to the heart such as measures for cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure and ischemic attacks. The result of the questionnaires and the laboratory tests indicate that those who have been in a marriage, and is still in, have the higher risk for the heart disease laboratory tests that were conducted on them as well. The risk increases as the ages increase. Another result of this study showed that the women are more at risk than the men. On the other hand, those that reported to be in a good marriage had positive benefits on their cardiovascular health, as they showed good laboratory results. One explanation for this is that women tend to think about their situation deeply and are more emotionally invested, compared to the opposite sex. Also, men do not tend to dwell on their situations, a natural difference between the sexes. In addition, the immune system of humans decreases as their age increases and as they grow older, therefore, any stress on the heart that can be attributed to the bad marriage will have severe effects on the body as well.
The results of this study will help marriage in a huge way and also in decreasing the number of women who suffer from heart diseases in the older age. If marriage counseling is only targeting the younger couples, it is suggested by the researchers of this study that perhaps involving older married couples in their 40s to 50s will help lower any heart related diseases in the future. People tend to think that there is no use for the older couples to go into therapy or counseling as they have reached the older ages and are still together, but this study shows that not all marriages that have survived for a long time are good marriages. Perhaps it is also an eye opener for the older couples to realize that even though they have been together longer, it does not also mean that they are happy together.