I have no doubt you are going to read a variety of wonderful posts about diet, exercise, stress management and other important health topics on this site, and I’m honored to be a part of the discussion: “How do we make Mesa County a healthier place to live?”
As a marriage and family therapist, I’m convinced of two things:
1. Our health has an impact on our relationships.
2. Our relationships have an impact on our health.
I’m sure I don’t have to convince you of the first point. We all know what it is like to be sick. As much as we want medicine, we often want comfort and sympathy more. On the flip side, illness can make us frustrated, depressed or angry. Sickness can make us prickly, and those who get too close might get pricked.
We’ve all experienced how our health influences our relationships.
It is the second point that you might not have considered.
There is a lot of interesting evidence that suggests our satisfaction with our relationship is predictive of our physical health. South and Kruger (2013) considered this interesting phenomenon by looking at data collected from twins.
Their results revealed that the genetic variation on health between twins was highest when one of the individuals reported either high or low levels of satisfaction with their relationship.
Although we’d expect twins, individuals who share the same DNA, to have similar health issues, this study found that twins’ health differed when their relationships were extremely satisfying or dissatisfying. This means that our genes are sensitive to our relationships.
Not only do bad relationships have the ability to make our health worse, good relationships have the ability to make us physically healthier.
So how is your relationship health?
This might be difficult for us to know. After all, there is no blood test for our relationships. But check back for more discussion about assessing your relationship health and how to make it better.
In the meantime, enjoy this couple’s story of relationships and health: Danny & Annie.
Kyle Horst, PhD. is a medical family therapist at St. Mary’s Family Medicine Residency where he helps individuals, couples and families heal. He is newly wed and a new resident to the Grand Valley. You might find him enjoying a good book and good Colorado brew.