What happens when we are alone and/or have unhealthy interactions with our partners?

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Louis Hawkley at the University of Chicago found that loneliness raises blood pressure to the point where the risk of heart attack and stroke is doubled. James House at the University of Michigan found that emotional isolation is a more dangerous health risk than smoking or high blood pressure.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that women who view their marriages as strained and have regular hostile interactions with their partners are more likely to have significantly elevated blood pressure and higher levels of stress hormones compared with women in happy marriages. Additionally, women who had a heart attack stood a threefold higher risk of having another if there was discord in their marriage.

Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of Ohio State University used a vacuum pump to produce small blisters on the hands of women volunteers, then had them fight with their husbands. The nastier the fight, the longer it took for the women’s skin to heal.

Studies of marital distress have long indicated that marital distress raises our risk of depression tenfold.

(adapted from Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Susan Johnson)