It seems that more and more I am hearing how relationships can have either a positive or a negative affect on one’s health. There are studies that indicate that the eating and exercising habits of one spouse can affect the eating and exercising habits of the other so that often both are either healthy or unhealthy. There are also studies that indicate that sharing in each other’s successes and achievements improves not only your relationship with your spouse but also his or her emotional and physical health.
In the February 2008 issue of Reader’s Digest, Dr. Dean Ornish speaks to men about how their reaction to stressful situations affects them as well as their wives. (While this is written from a man’s perspective, it applies equally to women.)
The mind is a mighty force. When you close your eyes and imagine something stressful, research shows your body reacts: Arteries constrict, blood pressure goes up, muscles tense, breathing rate increases. But if you think of something healing, healing tends to happen – physiologically. This may explain why compassion and forgiveness are so powerful, not only for the recipient but also for the giver.
Our emotions resonate with one another, for better or for worse. My anger may raise my wife’s blood pressure as well as mine. On the other hand, my loving feelings may lower it in both of us. Acting in ways that are loving, forgiving, compassionate, altruistic and nurturing can help free us from disease and premature death.
In short, we are hardwired to help each other. When we forget this fact, we often suffer needlessly.
When you start to react negatively to a situation, stop and think about how your negative reaction, even if it is brief, will impact not only your health but the health of those you love.
Yours for the celebration of marriage,
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