Older couples in a bad marriage — particularly female spouses — have a higher risk for heart disease than those in a good marriage, finds the first nationally representative study of its kind.
The link between a bad marriage and heart disease is more pronounced for older couples and, in particular, women, finds a study led by Michigan State University.
Credit: Michigan State University
Heart disease leads to a decline in marital quality for women, but not for men. This is consistent with the longstanding observation that wives are more likely to provide support and care to sick husbands, while husbands are less likely to take care of sick wives. “In this way, a wife’s poor health may affect how she assesses her marital quality, but a husband’s poor health doesn’t hurt his view of marriage,” Liu said.
Her co-researcher on the project is Linda Waite, sociology professor at the University of Chicago.
The study is titled “Bad marriage, broken heart? Age and gender differences in the link between marital quality and cardiovascular risks among older adults.”