When Marriage Is a Pain: Happiness and Healing

In the past decade, various researchers have published studies which they say prove that married people are, on average, happier and healthier than single people. This is easily explained by the fact that these researchers never called me when I was married so I could set them straight.

Although I am divorced, I often surprise people when I tell them I do believe that marriage can be a great thing. For example, I think my parents have a good marriage (and not just because it produced me). I see how the affection and companionship between them sustains and nurtures them; it's tender and dear, and I hope to have something that wonderful when I am their age.

Because I do believe in marriage, I always check out the newest studies, and finally one has come along that proves what I've known all along: A good marriage can heal you, and a bad one can hurt you.

Fiendishly clever researcher Janice K. Kiecolt-Gaser of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University, along with her husband and fellow researcher Ronald Glaser, created a research model to determine how couples interact with each other, and how that affects their health.

Here's what happened to those who agreed to spend the evening with Janice and Ronald. On two occasions two months apart, each of 42 married couples were admitted to the hospital for a 24-hour testing period ‑- which right from the start is nobody's idea of a "romantic getaway."

In the elegant fluorescent hospital lighting (perhaps over a lovely dinner of cold meatloaf, gray green beans and a Jell-O cup, undoubtedly accompanied by a small carton of a fairly recent vintage of skim milk), the couples were asked to engage in two 10-minute supportive discussions regarding something each spouse wanted to change about him- or herself.

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