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Long-lived relationships


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Two people sharing a dwelling and a life will inevitably lead to conflicts. It might be over how to squeeze a toothpaste tube, where the cat should sleep, what television show to watch, what to have for dinner, how to use your money, or where to live. Differing points of view can come in all shapes and sizes and they are a certainty but it is what you do with the conflicts that matters. Does any conflict in your relationship escalate into an argument? If it does then you might be shortening both of your lives in the process.

In a new study researchers analysed almost 10,000 men and women aged between 36 and 52. The participants were asked questions aimed at assessing their daily social relationships looking at who made excess demands on them, who caused worries, who caused conflict and how these situations arose.

The analysis showed that for 10 per cent of participants their children or partner were sources of ongoing worry and excess demands, six per cent said relatives caused these issues, and two per cent said it of their friends. Around six per cent of people said they often have arguments with their partner or children, two per cent said they argue with relatives and one per cent said they argue with neighbours.

The really striking finding when the researchers looked at death rates over the 11 years of the study was that constant conflict with anyone on the subject’s social circle was linked to a doubling, or even a tripling, of death risk from any cause.

The reason for this might lie in the fact shown by previous research that stressful social relationships increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increase blood pressure, and increase inflammation in the body. It might also be that people with negative, argumentative relationships are less likely to engage in healthy behaviours and may be driven to negative health behaviours.

Whatever the mechanism, constant arguments are not good for health and longevity. Maybe you need to stop worrying about the small differences, or maybe you need help to resolve a chronic issue, but the bottom line is that for the good of both of you, less arguing is better in the long run…if you want to have a long run.



 

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.