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Research shows how an unhappy marriage causes stress and affects your health

How unhappy marriage affects your health

When you tell Nigerian women to stop enduring unhappy marriages, they will tell you that marriage is not meant for happiness.

They will tell you that as long as you have your children around you, you will be happy. To these women, having a relationship with their children has replaced the companionship they are supposed to be enjoying with their husbands. This is an unhealthy arrangement.

Marriage is meant to be a source of happiness and joy, but some marriages can give rise to severely negative effects on your health. It can lead to obesity, heart diseases, leaky guts and more.


According to, Marriage is not just a set of vows you share with someone. It’s meant to be a source of happiness and comfort, something you lean on for strength for the rest of your life.

But sometimes, marriage can actually be detrimental to your health. Yes, your health. When you continue to stay in an unhappy marriage or your marriage is a source of immense stress, it could negatively affect your health.

The stress of a marriage can be particularly harmful because you look to your partner for love and support. But when that’s destroyed, it can severely impact your health.

“Marital stress is a particularly potent stress, because your partner is typically your primary support and in a troubled marriage your partner becomes your major source of stress,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, according to a news article from Ohio State University website.

Moreover, it was also found that the stress of marriage making someone sick had something to do with their age as well. The stress of an unhappy marriage is more likely to affect someone’s health more when they are older, while younger people might be able to cope with it better. “…the older someone is, the more vulnerable they are physiologically.

Stress for someone in their 20s is not likely to make them sick or have huge health effects, but we know that when someone is 65 or 70, noticeable declines in the immune response begin, and age-related increases in inflammation,” said Kiecolt-Glaser.

Here are 6 ways an unhappy marriage can affect your health.

How unhappy marriage affects your health

1. Obesity

Here are some ways unhappy marriage affect women’s health.

Being in a marital relationship that has “discord and depression” could lead you to become obese as well. Research published in Annual Reviews pointed out that adults who were depressed had a 58 percent higher chance of being obese. If you are repeatedly exposed to stress in your married life, this could be associated with unhealthy weight gain.

2. Depression

Apart from physiological changes, being in an unhappy marriage can impact your mental health as well. It can give rise to symptoms of depression, as research has found.

“An unhappy marriage is really, really fertile ground for depression, and depression has very well documented health consequences. And it goes back and forth. People who are depressed are more likely to have marital troubles, because it’s not fun to be around someone who is depressed,” said Stephanie J. Wilson, a postdoctoral researcher in Kiecolt-Glaser’s lab.

3. Heart diseases

Stressful marriages can take a toll on your health from top to bottom, and it can jeopardize the health of your heart as well. One study found that if you have negative attitudes about your partner or experience hostile behavior, it could increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as spike up your blood pressure.

4. Sleep

Being in a relationship that gives you more worries than joys can affect your normal, everyday things, from your appetite to your sleep patterns. Experiencing conflict with your spouse could affect your sleep. Affecting both quality and quantity, you might not sleep as well as you used to and your marriage might sometimes keep you up at night as well.

5. Leaky guts

If you tend to have arguments or brutal fights with your partner regularly, it could severely affect your health and also give rise to what’s known as leaky guts, as found by the study by researchers from Ohio State University. “We think that this everyday marital distress – at least for some people – is causing changes in the gut that lead to inflammation and, potentially, illness,” said Kiecolt-Glaser.

She also spoke about how inflammation can give rise to a number of problems, saying “Inflammation is more and more being seen as associated with a whole host of things you don’t want — cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, frailty, and functional decline.”

6. Slow healing

When you don’t have favorable and healthy interactions with your partner, the air between both of you can turn bitter. When there’s conflict in the marriage, your body loses its ability to heal wounds in the same way. One study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that couples with hostility between them healed at 60 percent of the rate at which other couples healed.

All marriages are bound to experience ups and downs, and arguments over children, finances or other subjects are bound to arise. However, as Kiecolt-Glaser explained, the way you address these disagreements is what matters. She said, “In a healthy marriage, you have to have emotional housekeeping. You have to discuss disagreements, but it’s the way you discuss them that has an impact on your health.” If things get overly hostile and your partner’s behavior severely affects your physical and mental health, it would be wise to reconsider the dynamics in the relationship.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


Written By

I am a woman who is passionate about empowering other women to live their best lives and be free from unhealthy societal expectations. I'm a journalist and a columnist with a reputable media house. I educate, inspire and encourage women to embrace their uniqueness fully. I am a mother to an intelligent girl. I love perfumes.


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