Ah, the joys of falling in love and matrimony.  We’ve all experienced the highs (and sometimes the lows) associated with coupling.  Though every relationship requires patience and understanding, sometimes things just don’t add up despite our best efforts.  It’s when we find ourselves in a prolonged state of strife that concerns researchers of a new study. According to this recent study: an unhappy marriage or partnership can quite literally break your heart.

In a nutshell, the study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior revealed that those in unhappy marriages showed a much higher risk of heart disease and this risk seemed more pronounced in women and older adults.  The researchers used data spanning 5 years to determine the participants’ heart health by measuring heart attacks, strokes and cholesterol levels.  Then, through a series of questions and rather complicated analysis, the researchers determined that the negative marital qualities were more harmful to a spouse’s heart than the positive qualities helped.  Basically, the bad stuff was more influential than the good stuff.

Obviously, there are several factors as to why this makes sense.  For example, when we’re unhappy in our partnerships, it can lead to stress or bad habits such as smoking and drinking – all of which are known to affect our heart health.  For women, the more pronounced risk can possibly be attributed to the fact that we are more likely to internalize our feelings, fall into depression, and overall react with more sensitivity than our male counterparts.

Though it can be difficult to acknowledge and deal with something that can be so life-changing, it’s important that we do so not only for the sake of our mental health, but also for our physical well-being.  And taking action doesn’t have to lead to doom and gloom!  There are several things couples can do, such as counseling, to address their issues and overcome them.  Each relationship is unique in its nature, needs, desires and fulfillment.  Whether the union remains intact or not, everyone owes it to themselves to seek and find that happiness – if nothing else, for the sake of our hearts.