Speak Up Or Die

Posted on September 25, 2007

A new report says that women who keep quiet and don't argue back in their marriages die much earlier.
Married women who keep silent during marital disputes have a greater chance of dying from heart disease and other conditions than women who speak their minds, new research shows. But the same can't be said of married men who keep disagreements to themselves. They had the same life expectancy during the 10-year study as men who spoke out. The research, which spanned from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, was the latest to show that how couples fight affects not only their relationship but their health.

Lead author Elaine A. Eaker, a Gaithersburg, Md., epidemiologist, said the message for women was clear. "When in conflict with your spouse, it helps to express yourself," she said. The study of 3,000 men and women published online in July by the journal Psychosomatic Medicine set out to examine the relationship between marital stress and coronary heart disease or death. Participants were asked what topics they fought over and whether workplace problems spilled into their lives at home. In general, marriage benefits health, particularly that of men. Married men live seven years longer, and married women live two years longer, than single men and women, respectively. Married people as a group have better psychological health than never-marrieds.

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Michael J. Rohrbaugh, co-director of the University of Arizona's Family Research Laboratory, who is conducting a study of heart patients, said the pronouns that couples use in speech -- whether "me" or "us" -- seem to predict the course of a spouse's heart disease during the subsequent six months. "There is something about 'we talk' -- the collective or communal idea that 'we are in it together' that is important," Rohrbaugh said. Although that study is not completed, Rohrbaugh said the connection between the phrase "we talk" and health appears to be stronger in women than in men. For women with heart disease, repeatedly using the words "I" or "me," he said, "is like the kiss of death."
Ladies, it's time to speak your mind. Keeping it in can kill you.