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Women Need a Happy Marriage To Fight Stress

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, January 03, 2008 12:35 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Workplace Injuries, Women's Health, Stress


Women need a happy marriage to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. For men the level of satisfaction in their marriage is not related to stress reduction after work.


Starting off the new year with an optimistic outlook about the future? It might help if you are a women who has a loving helpful partner to come home to. 

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles find that, particularly for women, a good marriage helps them cope with the stress of the workday.

The researchers followed 30 married couples for three days. The couples were equal in that all were parents and each individual had a full-time job.  Each of the men and women completed a single survey about the satisfaction level of their marriage and filled out a twice a day questionnaire about their day. Included in the research were saliva samples taken four times a day to test for cortisol which is a hormone that the body releases under stress.

Their findings reveal that women in a happy marriage were better able to leave the stress of work behind once they returned home. In a prepared statement, lead author Darby E. Saxbe said “After a tough day at the office, cortisol levels dropped further among happily married women than less happily married ones.  Less happily married women also showed a flatter daily pattern of cortisol release, suggesting that they are rebounding less well from everyday stress.”

Cortisol at elevated levels is associated with illness including depression and burnout, chronic fatigue, poor relationships, the flu, Type-2 diabetes, obesity and possibly even cancer.

This is the first time that cortisol levels have been studied as it relates to marriage. One theory is that women in happy marriages have a more equal relationship where responsibilities of the home and children are shared. That welcoming home translates to happiness and continued sharing with one's mate during an evening retreat from the world.

These findings, to be published in the January issue of Health Psychology, find that for men, cortisol levels dropped after coming home regardless of the level of satisfaction in their marriage.

And having a helpful mate is not the only secret to stress busting.  A related study shows that women who are religiously active are more connected to their social circles and better able to cope with stress and less likely to show signs of anxiety and alcohol abuse. Positive thinking, often connected to a spiritual life, is also known to be a life extender.

The religion connection to stress was also not observed in men. This study is reported in the January issue of Social Psychiatry and and Psychiatric Epidemiology. #


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