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New Study Indicates Only Happy Marriages Provide Benefits

TIME magazine recently highlighted a new study indicating that not all marriages provide health benefits. Specifically, what researchers labeled as “ambivalent marriages”—or unions that have distinctly negative attributes—do not receive the positive benefits of marriages, and unfortunately, this describes 75 percent of all marriages (at least, according to this particular study).

What’s Just an “O.K.” Marriage?

Researchers at Brigham Young University (who published the study) based what they considered to be an “ambivalent marriage” on what they call “interpersonal functioning.” Even if there were very positive areas of the relationship, if there was one area that was especially negative (such as complaints about the other person’s career), that one area of negativity could essentially negate the positive benefits of the relationship overall.

Physical and Emotional Implications

In addition, the study had some serious implications for heart-related issues. For instance:

  • Those in “ambivalent” relationships were found to have a higher blood pressure than those in more supportive marriages; and
  • The risks associated with being in an ambivalent marriage (in terms of heart health) outweigh the positive benefits of those associated with good (supportive) marriages. In other words, feeling invalidated is more detrimental to you than feeling validated is good for you, according to the study.

Ambivalent couples also reported less intimacy, spousal responsiveness and disclosure. In other words, responsiveness made them feel more validated and cared for, and feeling invalidated took a very negative toll even in spite of the positive aspects of the relationship.

What’s the Solution?

So where does this leave the majority of couples? For some, this is likely fixable and can be worked on; each couple can communicate what it is that makes them feel unsupported in the relationship, and they can work on remedying that issue together. By changing behavior to be more supportive, they can gain the benefits of positive marriages.

However, for others—particularly those that have already tried putting a lot of work into turning their relationship into a “supportive” marriages—it may be time to realize that the relationship is causing more harm than it is doing good.

What about Conflicting Studies?

One can understand why couples might be confused, particularly since study results seem to conflict each other, at times. For example, a study out of Florida State University in 2012 found that, sometimes, the short-term discomfort of an angry, honest conversation can be beneficial to the relationship overall. Researchers found this to be the case especially where one spouse was more “good-natured” in terms of forgiving, forgetting, and moving on, and the other spouse routinely took advantage of this good nature.

To many, this finding seems more realistic than the concept of never being negative with your spouse; surely most couples have found that having both ups and downs does not necessarily mean that a relationship is automatically “ambivalent.”

Contact Us for Advice & Representation

If you are potentially facing separation or divorce and you live in Boca Raton or Fort Lauderdale, contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., to schedule a consultation and learn about how we can help you.

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