diabetes health

A bad marriage may be good for men with diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on May 31, 2016

Many studies have shown that marriage is good for health and well-being but new research suggests that for men, an unhappy marriage may actually slow the development of diabetes.

The study led by researchers from Michigan State University in the United States challenges the traditional assumption that negative marital quality is always detrimental to health.

Scientists believe that it may be because wives like to regulate their husband’s lifestyle behaviour and while this may improve their health it can also be seen as annoying which creates hostility and distress.


Hui Liu, associate professor of sociology and lead investigator of the research team, used data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project relating to 1,228 married respondents over five years. At the onset of the study, the respondents were 57 to 85 years old and 389 had diabetes at the end of the study.

Liu, an expert in population based health and family science, investigated the role of marital quality in diabetes risk and management and found two major gender differences.

The most surprising finding was that, for men, an increase in negative marital quality lowered the risk of developing diabetes and increased the chances of managing the disease after its onset. Diabetes requires frequent monitoring that the wives could be prodding the husband to do, boosting his health but also increasing marital strain over time.

For women, a good marriage was related to a lower risk of being diabetic five years later. Women may be more sensitive than men to the quality of a relationship and thus more likely to experience a health boost from a good quality relationship.

“Since diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in the United States, implementation of public policies and programs designed to promote marital quality should also reduce the risk of diabetes and promote health and longevity, especially for women at older ages,” the study says.


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