Spouses: can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.
Which is a fun way of saying you’re probably resigned to a life of fighting all the time.
But you shouldn’t be, because according to a completely unsurprising new study published by University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University, fighting with your significant other is terrible for your health.
After analyzing “coded interpersonal emotional behaviors” that surfaced during recorded 15-minute-long fights between 156 long-term married couples, researchers were able to link arguments to physical symptoms husbands tend to suffer over the course of 20 years.
The research found that men who showed outward signs of anger like scowling, yelling and pursed lips were likelier to suffer from cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure and chest pains. Men who engaged in “stonewalling” behavior — aka bottling up their emotions — were more likely to have musculoskeletal issues like back pain, joint stiffness and muscle tension.
“Both associations did not exist at the start of the study, but only emerged over the ensuing 20 years,” according to the researchers, and the analysis was controlled for factors like age and background, as well as behaviors like drinking and smoking.
“These findings suggest opportunities for preventive interventions focused on specific emotions to help address major public health problems,” the researchers wrote.
For starters, take a few deep breaths or a nice brisk walk before things get too heated.