In a Bad Marriage? It Can Cause You Health Problems

a couple in a bad marriage

A couple in a bad marriage | Source: iStock

Are you living unhappily ever after? Over time, staying in a bad marriage could take a toll on your health or even kill you. Studies show that people who are dissatisfied with their marriage are at risk for serious health complications.

“It is becoming clearer that it is the quality of the marital relationship, rather than simply being married, that affects health. Having a marriage with relatively low levels of negative interactions is what leads to lifelong cumulative health benefits. A marriage in which there is violence is unhealthy by definition; physical and/or emotional abuses within a marriage are health risks. A truly healthy marriage is physically and emotionally safe for both partners and for their children,” said Jana Staton, Phd, LCPC.

So if you are miserable, it’s best to get a divorce while your health is still intact. Here’s what could happen if you stay in a nightmare marriage.

1. Depression

a sad man

A sad man | Source: iStock

If you’ve been battling a serious case of the blues, your marriage might be partly to blame. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that consistent stress from being in a bad marriage could make someone more susceptible to depression. More specifically, couples experiencing chronic marital stress are unable to enjoy positive experiences, which is an indicator of depression. Although studies have emphasized the health benefits of marriage and point to the fact that married couples tend to be happier than singles, a bad marriage can negate many of these benefits.

2. Heart disease

A man having a heart attack

A man having a heart attack | Source: iStock

A bad marriage can destroy your heart — figuratively and literally. A study by researchers at Michigan State University found the longer couples stay in a bad marriage, the worse off they are when it comes to their cardiovascular health. Negative marriages (for example, a spouse is excessively critical or demanding) have a greater impact on heart health than positive marriages (for example, when spouses are supportive). When results are isolated by gender, women seem to get the short end of the stick. Female participants were more likely to report heart problems.

“Results suggest that changes in marital quality and cardiovascular risk are more closely related for older married people than for their younger counterparts and that the link between marital quality and cardiovascular risk is more pronounced among women than among men at older ages,” said lead researchers Hui Liu and Linda Waite.

3. Anxiety

man sitting on the bad, clutching his stomach

Man feeling anxious | Source: iStock

Constantly worrying about your marriage can cause chronic stress and exacerbate anxiety. Studies have found that married people who are unhappy tend to be in worse health than those who are not married and are generally more stressed and anxious.

“Across these studies, negative and hostile behaviors during marital conflict discussions are related to elevations in cardiovascular activity, alterations in hormones related to stress, and dysregulation of immune function. Using recent conceptualizations of the physiological impact of chronic stress, we illustrate how physiological changes associated with marital functioning in these studies have long-term implications for health outcomes,” said the authors of a study analyzing the physiological impact of marriage.