In Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Less, a friend of the love-beaten protagonist muses on the strange ways society tries to preserve failing marriages.
He says: “Twenty years of anything with another person is a success. If a band stays together twenty years, it’s a miracle. If a comedy duo [does], they’re a triumph. Is this night a failure because it will end in an hour? Is the sun a failure because it’s going to end in a billion years? No, it’s the f*cking sun.”
That's approaching the vagaries of the institution through a mental/philosophical lens, as we're all pretty accustomed to doing. But according to a new joint study recently presented at the International Association for Relationship Research, there might be a physical imperative to leaving a drowning marriage, too. Put simply: bad marriages are bad for the body.
The study, which surveyed 373 couples over 16 years (all heterosexual), found that husbands and wives who are incapable of finding common ground on marital matters — children, taxes, family drama — are more susceptible to bodily inflammation, crappy eating habits, a weakened heart function or immune system and a merry-go-round release of stress hormones.
The study also concluded that men are A) generally at more serious health risk than women and B) more likely to suffer when dealing with a longer list of argument “topics.” Meanwhile, couples who find ways to agree with each other are able to ride a wave of health benefits at the outset of marriage, though the benefits fade over time. Ah, the honeymoon phase.
Our take? There are already enough forces conspiring against your health as you grow older. Either work for your marriage the way you'd work for your own body (hey, sometimes that selfish element helps) or go your separate ways. As for how to handle those window-rattling arguments: see here.
Image: Along Came Polly / Universal
h/t The Guardian