Marriage can be stressful. Can marriage and health really go together?
Apparently so. Cardiologists will tell you that being unmarried increases the risk of heart attacks in both women and men, regardless of age.
Even cohabiting couples have better prospects. Those unmarried – men (168%) and women (175%) – have higher chances of death after heart attacks. So says the “European Society of Cardiology”.
Reasons could be that people already in ill health may be less likely to marry or more likely to divorce. Alternatively, married people enjoy higher levels of social support, leading them to make healthier choices.
But there could well be other explanations.
Whatever the health benefits, you’ll probably agree with my earlier statement that marriage can still be stressful. Everybody needs to work at it.
In order to build that relationship, you should try a few strategies. Many are plain common-sense – but we don’t always do what is sensible!
1. Touch each other regularly. This doesn’t have to be sexual. I remember Jack Canfield stating that about nine hugs a day is ideal.
2. Communicate. Don’t allow grievances to build up. Vent – but don’t overdo it! And don’t criticise for the sake of it. It’s good to validate your partner when you can.
3. Be nice. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you are justified in taking out all your irritations on your partner. You can still be kind, polite and respectful.
4. Treat your partner like a friend. You both have each other’s best interests at heart, so develop that relationship.
5. Don’t let yourself down. Don’t present yourself to the world as a flirt and attention-seeker (unless that is how you are with your partner). Don’t put strain on your relationship.
6. A little attention won’t hurt. Occasionally showing your partner you care, with a little gift, say, can help cement the relationship. Praise and gratitude are great too!
7. Try and be positive. This will help you both get through the day. Of course, there are going to be problems to be faced.
8. Be prepared to develop. You should (both) try new things from time to time, whether it be a self-development course or a new hobby. Getting stuck in a rut will benefit nobody.
I hope you’ll agree that, with only a little work, you can improve your marriage AND your health at the same time! Please try it – and report back to me!
Michael is a celebrant based in London.