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Happy Marriage Translates into Lower Blood Pressures

The theme today seems to be a search for happiness. The economy has been providing plenty to be gloomy about but one must remember that yesterday was the first day of spring and that should count for something (except for those who are being snowed on at the moment).

Earlier in this issue we learned that giving away money makes us happy and now we are informed that being in a happy marriage lowers blood pressure. What is interesting is that this improvement in blood pressure is not found in couples that are not married or in single people who have a close network of friends and it is definitely not found in people with an unhappy marriage. The most salient factor appears to be the presence of security in a world that provides very little of it. The study showed that married couples experienced a dip in blood pressure during sleep and that proves to be a vital ingredient in health as people with high levels at night are at the highest risk.

Analysis: There are now attempts to determine just what it is about the marriage that translates into better health. To some extent it seems that happy couples take better care of themselves and respond to spousal advice on healthy habits. There is also some suggestion that there is less pressure to conform to societal norms that might prove stressful but the biggest factor seems to be security. This corresponds to other studies on what makes people stressed. The average person today has very little in the way of security – jobs are fragile and relationships tend to be shallow and fleeting. Families have fragmented and many are separated from their closest relatives. The person with a committed and loving spouse has a partner to see them through hard times. The fact that there is a legal bond seems to matter in the sense that it is another assurance of security and commitment. The study also suggested that the longer the marriage, the lower the blood pressure. -CK


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