Stronger Together Or Weaker? Your Marriage and Your Health 

Couple with Coffee and Prezels in City Park, New York City, New York, USA


Someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked “Is that not Dolapo, or I’m seeing double?” I was already looking at the person I was being asked to check out, and lo and behold, it was the same Dolapo, albeit a chubbier version of my childhood friend.

The twinkle in his eyes and that lopsided rascally manner in which he walked, gave him away. He was laughing at us and the quizzical looks on our faces. When he called out our surnames, or the names we used to bear, it was confirmed, and we pretty much jumped him happily. It was nice to be young and carefree, even if it was for a few moments.

We started bombarding him with many questions, chief of which was, “What are you eating?” When he told us, he was now married with a kid, the weight business started to make sense. I mean, this was a boy who was so thin and sickly, the “evil” children amongst us back then coined a nickname for him that even the nice children used behind his back. Of course, he knew about the name and, unfortunately, it’s still the name most of my school mates call him till date.

Moments to the end of our unofficial reunion, his wife and baby dropped by to pick him up, and let’s just say there was no more need for any explanation for Dolapo’s weight. His wife is a beautiful plus size lady, and we all cheerfully commended her for the good work she was doing with our friend. Who would ever believe this gangly boy would ever gain weight? Well, he did.


I was chatting with a friend some time ago, about a health issue, and we were trying to figure out what had changed in her routine and if it was related to the symptom, she was experiencing.

We went through her physical routines on a daily basis, and talked about her diet, and she noted that she was eating a lot better now that she was married than before, because her husband is a health freak who hates seeing ‘yummy’ stuff in their freezer, hence, they have only healthy snacks and meals, while treats are for only when they go out.

While there was room for improvement in the some areas, her diet was incredibly good, as she gave me a rundown of some of the things she now eats. Let’s just say, it’s too healthy for some people.

The changes that happened to the two people mentioned above perhaps might not have happened if they were single.

There is something about marriage that changes people. You should compare some people’s wedding photos with their current state.  It just does. Oftentimes, the changes are visible to others, like the thickening waist line, the glow, the introduction of colours to their wardrobe, and more.

These changes too have an impact on the long term health of both partners in a relationship, and studies have long confirmed that.  Studies have shown, time and time again, that people who are in satisfying relationships feel happier, have fewer problems with health, and live longer.

On the flip side, being in a relationship that is less than satisfactory, or having unhealthy connections or a complete lack of social ties is something of an express access to depression, cognitive decline, and an increased risk of premature death.

So, it’s a two-way street, your marital connection can either affect your health, both long term and short term, positively or negatively.

Today, we will take a look at some of the ways marriage affects one’s health.

Instant pain relief:

I will start off with this study undertaken by the University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of Haifa in Israel. The researchers discovered that when heterosexual lovers touch when the woman is in pain, couples’ heart rates and respiratory patterns synchronize and the woman’s pain reduces.

These findings add to a growing body of evidence on “interpersonal synchronization,” a phenomenon in which people begin to physiologically mirror those that they spend time with.

Lead author, Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder explained that, the “more empathic the partner and the stronger the analgesic effect, the higher the synchronization between the two when they are touching.”


Change microbiome

Couples who live together can change the community of bacteria and other microbes found on their skins.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada found that skin regions that were the most similar between partners were on the couples’ feet. “In hindsight, it makes sense,” says Prof. Josh Neufeld, of the Faculty of Science in the Department of Biology at the University of Waterloo. “You shower and walk on the same floor barefoot.”

That is also a highlighter to the fact that you can pass on infections quite quickly between you two, and other people in your home.


Improved long term mental and psychological health

On average, married folks have been found to live longer and live quality lives too; women have better mental health when they are in committed relationships, while men reap the benefits of being in a committed relationship in the form of better physical health.

That’s enough ginger for the die-hard bachelors out there. #side-eye



Help achieve healthy goals

Two heads are better than one, when it comes to taking up healthy habits. Studies have revealed that if you want to swap bad habits for good, then you would be more successful if your partner also makes those changes.

Time to get oga in on the weight loss journey…it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t want to lose weight, he can just keep fit.


On the other side of the spectrum, an unhealthy relationship could wreak havoc on either partner’s relationship.

Your partner can make you gain weight

Marriage has been positively correlated with weight gain among couples. And we really don’t need any study to know that most newlyweds are more likely to gain weight in the early years of marriage.

Interestingly, one study linked weight gain in marriage to break up rates among couples. They found that, on average, spouses who were more satisfied with their marriage were less likely to consider leaving their marriage, and they gained more weight over time.

In contrast, couples who were less satisfied in their relationship tended to gain less weight over time.


Increase risk of health conditions

In contrast with research arguing that your significant other can decrease your risk of certain health conditions, other studies show the reverse.

For example, the McGill University Health Centre in Canada has suggested that if someone has type 2 diabetes, their partner has a 26 percent increased risk of also developing the condition, because they share the same environment, social habits, and eating and exercising patterns – all of which are factors that alter the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Another example is the way that you react to disagreements and argue with your partner could predict health problems later in life. The University of California, Berkeley, and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, revealed that fits of rage during marital spats can predict cardiovascular problems, and shutting down and giving the silent treatment raises the risk of a bad back or stiff muscles.

These findings should be enough to make both married and unmarried folks pause and reassess their relationship, because of its long term effects on health.

For richer, for poorer? For weaker, for stronger?  The ball is in our courts.



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