A study with couplespresented last week has marriage experts all buzzing. Researchers from theUniversity of Virginia experimented on 27 married couples and 27 co-habiting couples.One member of the couple was put under threat of electric shock either alone,holding the hand of a stranger or holding the hand of their partner.
When the threat of electric shock was presented to them, marriedpeople holding their spouse's hand showed much reduced levels of activity inthe part of their brain that controls the release of the stress hormonecortisol (a hormone released at high levels when stressed that suppresses yourimmune system, leads to chronic illness and slow healing). People who have highcortisol levels are also more prone to obesity, depression and anxiety.
The co-habiting couples showed little or no effect. The brain wasjust as stressed as if the person had been alone or holding the hand of astranger. One of the researchers explained by saying when the brain is stressedit has to decide who will be most reliable when you are put at risk. Thisdecision is made "gut level," and although couples may live together at a deeplevel, they may not feel committed. The researchers went on to explain thestudy is showing the impact of commitment on your overall health.
The researchers support the fact that healthy marriage ishealthier for you than being single. However, their research suggests it is dueto the security, which comes with commitment. The researchers also appliedtheir test to same-sex couples that felt happily committed, and found similarresults to the married couples.
This study needs to be replicated several times on largerpopulations as the findings were based on small sample sizes. However, thechemical changes in the brain cannot be denied. Part of a healthy marriage isthe aspect of total commitment. You cannot be half in, or half gone if you don'tget your way. A marriage is a work in progress, and working on your marriage isan important priority for those who enjoy high marital satisfaction.
Below are suggestionsfor everyday ways to show commitment to your partner:
This research underlines the impact of feeling committed andsecure in a relationship. It isn't only a heart matter; it's a health matter.If your marriage is struggling, learning to communicate and get along willimprove your relationship as well as your health. –Mary Jo Rapini
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