High blood pressure … belly fat … increased risk of heart attack and diabetes.
Those are the health risks of … what?
You probably guessed being overweight, but in fact those are the health risks of a bad marriage.
It used to be said that marriage is good for your health, but now we know that’s only the case for men. Married men do tend to be healthier and live longer, regardless of the quality of the marriage.
But for women, marriage is a mixed bag.
Yes, a good marriage is good for a woman’s health.
But a bad marriage can shorten her lifespan.
When there’s a lot of anger or hostility or defensiveness or conflict in your relationship, your body feels it.
Those increased stress hormones affect how your body processes insulin, your immune response, even where you store your fat.
What’s unfair is that these health risks hit middle-aged women the hardest.
Men get distressed and unhappy when they’re in a bad relationship, but it doesn’t seem to affect their physical health like it does for us.
If you needed any more reason to get out of a toxic relationship, let it be this:
You are not only losing months and years of your life to this person. You’re also destroying your health.
Here are 3 unexpected signs you’re in a toxic relationship…
And you should think about getting out.
Sign #1. Wounds take longer to heal.
I experienced this one first hand.
After being in a horrible relationship, I finally got out, and that’s when everything fell apart, because of course he wasn’t going to let bygones be bygones and allow me to live my new life in peace.
With the conflict continuing almost as bad as it was when I was in the relationship, I felt under the weather for a long time.
My hands would get scraped easily, like my skin had become thinner, and I’d end up bleeding all over the place. I ended up with scars from these little scrapes that kept getting knocked open and would not heal.
I’d look down at my arm or leg and see a new bruise and have no idea how it got there. The bruises would take forever to go away.
It was such a relief when I came across some research that explained everything.
It turns out that relationship conflict decreases the production of pro-inflammatory proteins known as cytokines that you need for healing wounds.
Who would have guessed?
Sign #2. Insomnia
I was never a great sleeper, but I was never one to take sleeping pills except on very rare occasions.
But this toxic relationship changed my sleeping for good.
There was so much stress that I wasn’t able to relax when I went to bed. It got so bad that I’d lie awake all night and still be awake when my alarm went off in the morning—the first time in my life that anything like this had ever happened to me.
Back then, I didn’t link the two. I thought that I had an insomnia problem, not a relationship problem.
But if you’ve started having insomnia, and it’s not like you, consider whether it’s related to your relationship.
Sign #3. Weight gain
Yes, bad relationships can make you gain weight.
The famous Whitehall study, a longitudinal study on UK civil servants, found that being in an unhappy relationship made you more likely to put on extra pounds, regardless of whether you were a healthy eater.
Well, when you’re constantly stressed, you end up with a constant barrage of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes sugar cravings, slows your metabolism, and directs fat storage to high-risk areas like the belly.
Toxic or Not?
If you’re still wondering whether your relationship is bad enough to affect your health, I’ll leave you with 4 questions to ask yourself.
These are the questions that the Whitehall study used to determine if a relationship was happy or unhappy.
- How much does your partner give you worries, problems, and stress?
- How much would you like to be able to confide more in your partner?
- How much does talking to your partner make things worse?
- How much would you like to have more practical help with major things from your partner?
So, if your relationship is one problem after another…
If you avoid confiding in your partner, because you know he can’t cope with what’s going on inside you…
If talking to him just makes things worse…
If you need help with stuff but can’t rely on him…
Then your relationship is not the support it should be.
And it could be hurting your health.
It’s hard to leave a toxic relationship. But it might just save your life.