marriage therapist

Argument With Spouse Can Worsen Pain in Osteoarthritis and Diabetes Patients

It is safe to say that arguing with your spouse or partner can cause massive amounts of stress in day-to-day life. However, constant stress can lead to long-term mental and physical health problems. So with that being said, is the argument really worth it?

Conflict Can Worsen Chronic Condition Pain

According to the Journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, an argument with spouse can worsen pain in people who already struggle with chronic conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes. This study compared two groups of individuals, aged fifty years and older. They were grouped based on their chronic conditions – arthritis and diabetes. Ultimately, those who felt more tension with their spouse also reported that their symptoms worsened on those days.

Dr. Lynn Martire, professor of human development and family studies and author of the study, enthusiastically stated that “The findings gave us insight into how marriage might affect health, which is important for people dealing with chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes.”

Martire also explains how it is important to know how and why symptoms of chronic disease worsen. People with osteoarthritis who experience a lot of pain become disabled at a faster rate, and patients with uncontrolled diabetes have a greater risk of developing complications. Knowing the “how and why” of these conditions could prevent future ailments. 

The two groups in the study were asked to keep diaries about their mood, the severity of their symptoms, and the interactions they had with their spouse – positive or negative. The groups documented their lives on paper for 24 days. At the end of the experiment, it was concluded that participants in both groups had a higher level of pain when they experienced tension in their households. The tension between two people caused negative attitudes which, ultimately, led to an increase in symptoms.

What These Results Show

Martire says the results could inspire interventions to help couples that lived with chronic illness.

“We usually focus on illness-specific communications, but looking at the tension in a marriage isn’t tied to the disease, it’s not a symptom of the disease itself,” Martire said. “It’s a measure you can get from any couple. It suggests to me that looking beyond the illness, to improve the overall quality of the relationship might have some impact on health.”

The study inferred that rekindling a healthy relationship between two people might improve the overall health of the couple. So the answer to the question is no; arguing with your spouse is not worth putting your health on the line.

Argument With Spouse? Couples Counseling in Orange County May Help

Arguing with your spouse may not be worth the effect it has on your health, but avoiding an argument may be easier said than done. If you need assistance with issues that may be causing arguments and friction in your relationship, couples counseling can help you find a way to work with your partner to get things back on track.

Jennifer De Francisco, MPA, MSW, LCSW, offers couples counseling in Orange County, CA for couples at any stage in their relationship. Her approach provides a safe environment to open and honestly share thoughts and emotions. Through developing a positive, therapeutic relationship, you and your partner can interpret what is going on, both in your life and in the session, creating a better awareness within your relationship. Contact Jennifer De Francisco by calling (949) 251-8797 or make an appointment online.

Source: Penn State

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