My wife is always telling me that "happy wife equals happy life!" While somewhat cliche, there are actually well documented health, lifestyle and financial benefits of being in happy, committed relationships (especially for men). Current data suggests that people in shaky relationships have:
- an increased rate of heart attack (8.5%)
- a slower rate of wound healing (40%)
- higher artery calcification (20%)
- worse self reported health in old age (13%)
- 3.7x higher likelihood of developing an alcohol problem
- decline in immune function and increase in depression when compared by marital closeness and quality
Divorced men are 39% more likely to commit suicide and have been shown to have 1/4 of the wealth they would have had, had they never married at all!
With that in mind, I figured I'd compile some relationship advice to help avoid all of the above.
1) Do it together: men and women are more likely to make positive healthy behavioral changes if their partner makes the same change (daily exercise, dieting, therapy, etc).
2) Communication is key: how a partner responds to news, good or bad, is very important. Passive, destructive or flippant responses set up tense relationships. Positive responses reassure your spouse that you will support them at all times.
3) Travel can be redefining: while tropical and exotic destinations are great, any getaway with just the two of you can be recharging and allow for renewed connection.
4) Do something fun: research out of Berkeley shows that couple who engage in new and exciting activities report much more marital satisfaction than those who continually have "normal" date nights. Even better... do the activity with another happy couple and the benefits increase.
5) Sacrifice: an obvious part of all relationships but also a potential source of tension. You'll both be sacrificing through the years, so do something nice, don't keep count and everyone wins!
Happy relationship making!
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.