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Conflict in a relationship can be a good thing, a healthy motivator to improve one’s self and a natural part of the relationship.
But what about those chronic arguers – partners who seem to never end a fight?
A new 11-year study looking at conflict in relationships found highly argumentative couples are actually twice as likely to experience an early death, suggesting little disagreements can come at a high price.
The research, which appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was conducted by Danish researchers at the University of Cogenhagen between 2000 and 2011, with data coming from 10,000 men and women aged 36 to 52.
Researchers were looking at how stress variables affects life expectancy.
They concluded those who experience regular conflict in their relationship were at least 50 percent more likely to die prematurely (and as much as 100 percent more likely to do so) compared with those not in such a turbulent relationship.
“Those who experience regular conflict are
50 percent more likely to die prematurely.”
About one in 10 individuals were found to have high levels of conflict in their romantic relationship. These individuals were theorized to have greater regular stress and higher blood pressure, putting them more at risk for heart issues and other health concerns.
The highly stressed also are more likely to smoke heavily or abuse alcohol on a regular basis, both of which can also lead to serious health complications.
Two groups were found most at risk of this fate overall: men and the unemployed. Not having a job was demonstrated in the study to add additional risks of stress no matter the gender.
According to the researchers, chronic stress is the issue here, not the day-to-day disagreements couples encounter but the ongoing, unresolved and sometimes even obsessive argument styles that represent the problem.
Lead author Rikke Lund recommends anger or conflict management techniques to help “curb premature deaths associated with social relationship stressors.”
By reducing how often couples argue, or the ways in which they resolve such conflicts, researchers hope to encourage lower individual stress, which adds considerably to a wide range of health issues.
Headshot via publichealth.ku.dk