Happy couple in parkWhy do healthy relationships matter? Research has shown that there are physical health benefits from healthy relationships and marriages. For instance, married people have longer life expectancies than single people, especially married men. Married mothers have lower rates of depression than single or cohabiting mothers.

Some studies indicated marriage was tied to better survival in certain cancers such as breast and prostate cancers. A study led by Dr. John Gore of the University of California, Los Angeles showed married patients with bladder cancer had the best survival odds. Researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Pittsburgh found that women with high marital satisfaction were less likely to develop risk factors that lead to cardiovascular disease when compared with other women.

On the other hand, unhealthy relationships can be damaging to one's health. Several studies show that people who have a rocky marriage or relationship are likely to experience anxiety and stress and increased risk of health problems. Researchers at University College London tracked about 9,000 people for 12 years and found that negative relationships increase the risk of heart problems by 34 percent. According to researcher John Gottman, an unhappy marriage can increase the chances of illness by 35 percent.

The health benefits attributed to marriage come from the social and emotional support between partners. Knowing that your partner is interested in the details of your life and cares about you can lessen stress levels substantially. Couples feel accountable to one another, so it won't go unnoticed when one person neglects his or her health or struggles at work. Couples work as a team and are likely to have regular checksups or reminders on exercise or other recommendations that will improve their life or health.

With the pressures of work, children and chores, it can be difficult to focus on nurturing healthy relationships. Building and maintaining a healthy relationship takes time and effort. Here are basic tips to help couples build a healthy and strong relationship.

  • Make time for each other.
  • Make a commitment to your relationship.
  • Have positive and open communication.
  • Be appreciative and affectionate.
  • Show interest and care.
  • Be supportive.
  • Fight fair.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • Keep romance alive.
  • Have a good sense of humor.
  • Learn to compromise and forgive.