There are 2 types of arguers in marriage, and they’re not winners and losers (sorry). According to a 20-year longitudinal study from UC Berkley and Northwestern, married people most often fall into one of 2 categories — anger and stonewalling. Whether your temper is usually met with the silent treatment, or the other way around, both styles might result in complications far beyond being annoyed with each other.
Researchers looked at a cohort of 156 married couples in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose relationships were tracked since 1989. Every 5 years they would come in for videotaped sessions, where they would discuss what they enjoyed about each other as well as disagreements. They consistently had enough of the latter for behavioral coders to score a series of 15 minute arguments, because marriage is too exhausting for anything longer. The Angerers were distinguished by raised voices, tight jaws and knitted brows, whereas the stonewallers avoided eye contact, tightened their neck muscles, and stiffened their faces. You might also know this as “the look.”
After taking into account controls such as age, education, exercise, alcohol use, smoking, and caffeine consumption, angry arguers were found to be at greater risk of developing chest pain, high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems overtime — which is really just another thing to be pissed about. Stonewallers had less serious, but still consistent, health problems, including backaches, stiff necks and joints, general muscle tension, and other excuses to get massage gift certificates.
Though all couples are different and some men might be regular Stonewall Jacksons, the study found the link between health problems and emotions to be the most pronounced for husbands and anger to be the more dangerous style overall. Simply put, winning a fight might not be worth the explosion. If only there were a user-friendly series of articles designed to help you better navigate disputes with your spouse …
[H/T] UC Berkley