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Marital Satisfaction, Health and Happiness: Part 5

edgy coupleMany studies that compare single people with couples as to their quality of life and general health and happiness come to conflicting conclusions.  Some say that couples are happier and healthier while others report that singles are just as well off.

 

On top of that common sense tells you that bad coupling and marriages aren’t going to be good for either party’s well-being. I think the key to understanding these confusing results is the variable of couple satisfaction.  Many studies have simply not measured the couple’s happiness as part of their experiments or surveys.  Of those that did, here’s the overview: Bad or unsatisfactory coupling or marriages may contribute to health and psychological problems while good coupling may protect you from certain diseases or help you to recover faster.

 

We can’t go into all of the studies so here are a few. A study of long-term coupling in which the partners were unhappy, showed that women more than men were likely to suffer from high blood pressure and obesity[i]. Other studies have showed that poor coupling or marital quality was associated with depression, worsened physical health, poor sleep and metabolic problems.

 

We’ve also already showed that once a woman is divorced or separated that her economic, health and general well-being are all adversely affected. In other words, there is a severe penalty for being in a bad relationship that never-coupling singles don’t pay. In fact, singles with strong social support have been found to be nearly as well off as women in good relationships. That’s because social support and love are probably the key drivers behind many of the positive findings in comparison studies of singles, married, living together and divorced women.

 

But before we continue, I want you to take advantage of my free ongoing support. You can learn EXACTLY how to find and attract the one, how to tell the DUDs from the STUDs, how to go from casual to a real commitment, how to keep the passion going and much much more by subscribing to my Dating Tips & Relationship Advice Newsletter, absolutely FREE!  Click Here to get started now.

 

Now then, what about women in satisfying relationships?  In comparison studies, they had the least atherosclerosis in their arteries and lived much longer if they did have heart disease. They had fewer doctor visits, lower blood pressure than singles or women in unhappy relationships. Studies of long-term couples showed that they report fewer headaches and back pain. Happy couples healed twice as fast from flesh wounds than those who demonstrated hostility toward each other. In fMRI studies of the brain, men and women in long-term relationships showed activation in the areas of the brain associated with dopamine, that is, the passion centers, as if they were newly coupled.  There is no question then that the social support of a loving partner contributes to having a healthier, longer and happier life.

 

Bottom Line: Coupling by itself is not an answer to all of life’s problems. Being single today combined with a strong social network of family and friends, is a very viable alternative to even a healthy relationship. So relax.

 

If you do decide to couple, choose someone who is a good match, someone who is devoted to you and committed to handling the inevitable bumps and potholes that you will face on your journey.  Because if it does not go well and you separate, the research suggests that you will suffer more than if you had never married.

On the other hand, a good relationship is worth creating and working on because it can have other many positive effects on your health and well-being.  And in a chapter in my book, Love in 90 Days: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Own True Love, we look at one of those surprising benefits that I’ve been writing about that has been recently confirmed in research studies and dubbed the Michelangelo Effect.  Great couples, like great sculptors, shape each other so that both move toward their own individual dreams and goals. They accomplish these feats by practicing eight habits that have been borne out by many research studies.

[i] Contact author for references

 

Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show & author of the highly acclaimed new book, “Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love” as well as the best-selling author of “Love in 90 Days.” Dr. Diana’s revolutionary work is the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her FREE Dating and Relationship Advice Newsletter.

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