Looking for new ways to keep a healthy heart, but already exercise, eat right, don’t smoke, and all that good stuff? Well, foster a happy marriage.
A study published in Psychological Science found that a supportive marriage was a predictor of good heart health. For the study, researchers had 136 older couples fill out questionnaires respecting their marriage. These questionnaires included questions regarding perceived spousal support, indicating how supportive or how upsetting their partner was when they needed a favour, advice, or support. About thirty per cent of those surveyed indicated that their partner was supportive, and thirty per cent indicated that their partners were ambivalent (that is, sometimes supportive and sometimes not). Researchers than used a CT scanner to check levels of calcification in the participants arteries.
Researchers found that calcification levels were highest when both partners viewed each other as ambivalent; when only one partner felt this way, the effect was significantly less. The effect was independent of gender.
Why would it work out, heart health-wise, for one partner to express ambivalence, and the other to express support? Researchers aren’t sure, but results are clear: you can improve your own heart health (and that of your partner’s) with a little support.