Healthy Marriage, Healthy Weight-

When you said “I do” at the wedding chapel, I bet you weren’t thinking about how your marriage would affect your weight! Research has shown that a happy marriage can have quite a few health benefits, including longevity, cardiovascular health, and weight loss. However, the key to unlocking these treasures lies in the word “happy”.

Marriages are hard work, but with health as one of the benefits, you may want to work a bit harder at maintaining a successful partnership. In fact, a positive, healthy marriage or marriage-like relationship has actually been documented as both a physical and mental asset.

Harvard Says A Healthy Marriage Can Lead to a Healthy Weight
Married couples were once thought to be at a disadvantage when it came to weight loss. A few studies have even shown a connection between marriage and packing on the pounds, especially for newly-weds. It’s suggested that married couples become more laid back about their appearance and weight since they no longer need to worry about finding a mate. Thankfully, though, for happy couples, a healthy marriage has now actually been linked to a lower risk of weight gain and obesity during middle age. Moreover, as you age, your values and health are prioritized over physical appearance.

A study conducted at Harvard University looked at 2 650 middle-aged people, either married or in a marriage-like relationship, and measured the quality of their partnership based on the level of marital strain or marital support. They also tracked the weight gain of each couple over a period of nine years. The results conclusively showed that healthy marriages are linked to less weight gain over time. In fact, as the quality of a marriage increases, the risk of obesity is lowered by 10% and as the level of marital support increases, risk of obesity decreases by 22%.

A consistent pattern among most partners is that they offer encouragement to each other in pursuing healthy behavior, as well as discouraging destructive habits. Of course, this isn’t the case for every relationship, but for the vast majority of healthy marriages, it holds true. A number of limitations of the study must be mentioned. Over time, some of the middle-aged couples observed in the study may have learned to cope with negative marital experiences. It should also be noted that many people in stressed-out marriages end up divorcing early on and were not eligible to participate in the study.

Benefits of Maintaining a Healthy Marriage
As it turns out, there a number of additional benefits to maintaining a healthy marriage apart from keeping a healthy weight and warding off obesity.

Regardless of what type of cancer is involved, married men and women are more likely to survive and receive proper and timely treatment than single people.
If you’re a married man, you may fare very well in the heart department! Your chances of dying from heart disease drop significantly. Research has found that men in long-term monogamous relationships are almost half as likely as single men to die within 10 years of receiving a heart disease diagnosis.
You’re also better protected from stroke if you’re in a healthy marriage. Risk of fatal stroke increases by a whopping 64% in dissatisfied and unhappy married men.
Married adults who undergo heart surgery are three times more likely to survive than unmarried patients.
A healthy marriage increases longevity among men and women to at least 89 years of age.
Satisfied couples enjoy greater overall wellness. A happy marriage is linked to better sleep, drinking less, visiting the doctor, and participating in healthier activities. Healthy marriages reduce stress and prolong age-related health decline.

So, What Exactly is a Healthy Marriage?
A healthy marriage isn’t a perfect marriage. It’s a marriage in which both parties mutually commit to a beneficial relationship. A partnership is formed between two people who help each other through life’s ups and downs. Because, as we all know, life is full of up and downs, having a reliable companion beside you to deal with whatever situations life throws at you can be very helpful. For most couples, however, having a successful and happy marriage doesn’t come easily and takes a conscious effort by both parties. Here are some methods that seem to work for keeping a team of two together:

Maintain healthy eating and exercising habitstogether. Spend time browsing the farmers’ market or exercise together daily.
Create a financial plan that works for both of you. Money is the number one reason couples fight so avoid this obstacle by resolving any issues related to spending habits early on.
Develop family rules. The first 5 to 10 years are said to be spent arguing over how a family should operate—even trivial things like how to hang up the toilet paper! It’s important to figure out how to live together and at the same time, maintain your own sense of self.
Make intimacy a priority. Sex should never be a chore or penciled into the calendar and should be a regular part of every couple’s life. It doesn’t matter how often as long as both parties agree and are satisfied. Anything from holding hands to sex can contribute to lowering hormone levels and reducing stress.
Prepare and be flexible. Chances are, at some point in your marriage, things are going to get shaken up. Children may enter the scene, career changes happen, or even a job loss. Regardless of the cause, paychecks, careers, and children do not equate to the value of your relationship. Be open-minded and willing to make necessary changes.
They say couples who exercise together, stay together and have sex more frequently. Moreover, staying active as a couple can stave off heart disease and other illnesses. Pick an activity you both enjoy like tennis, hiking, or walking the beach. You don’t necessarily have to sweat to reap the benefits, moderate exercise is sufficient.

Be willing to seek advice about your relationship. Whether you speak to a professional or trusted friend, it’s important to talk about relationship troubles with those who may have had similar previous experiences or understand what you’re going through. Empathy from others can often put things into a different perspective and therapy can be extremely beneficial for couples facing relationship troubles.
Understand that kids are stressful. It can be a major change when children enter the nest and then fly the coupe. During this phase of life, it’s easy to forget what you once loved about your partner. Couples may need to rediscover each other.
“In sickness and in health….” You took a vow to be an unconditional caregiver. Whether it be a cold or a terminal illness, the situation is stressful for everyone. A spouse in need of help often feels guilty and frustrated, whereas a spouse offering help may feel limited and controlled. It’s important to be open about your feelings and take part in what is known as conscious caregiving. Keep the lines of communication open and if needed, seek help from family and friends or other caregivers.

Toxic Relationships and Adrenal Fatigue
We’ve learned how unhealthy relationships can affect your health, but for those suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), it could be a matter of life or death. The primary reason AFS surfaces is due to stressful conditions like being in an unhappy marriage. Adrenal Fatigue may cause such intense symptoms that your quality of life is quickly diminished and you don’t even enough strength to get out of bed. However, Adrenal Fatigue could also be viewed as one of the greatest wake-up calls, causing you to refocus on what is truly important in life such as happy relationships, peace, and love. Adrenal Fatigue often pushes people towards living on a deeper level and may become the starting point for living a more purposeful life or addressing an area of your life that may be out of alignment.

By studying the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system, we can obtain a better understanding of how all the systems of the body are connected. When your body is over-stressed and unable to calibrate or properly deal with the stressors you encounter, adverse reactions begin to manifest leading to inflammation, hormone imbalances, and many other symptoms. Stress can affect every part of your body.

Staying positive and happy is a given right as a human being. In fact, if for any reason your life isn’t going as planned, even due to illness, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. Instead, take measures to ensure your happiness and the happiness of your marriage and this will roll over into a more positive life.

Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.




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