New Study Shows Fighting with Your Spouse Is Bad for Your Health

Fighting with your spouse makes for more than a tough marriage

It’s no surprise that fighting with your spouse might ruin your day. However, new research suggests it can affect your health too.

A study conducted by Pennsylvania State University found that, when a married couple fights with each other, the tension can worsen chronic conditions.


The study was published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine in March. It dealt specifically with arthritis and diabetes.

In other studies, researchers have found that strong marriages are, in fact, related to good health, reports Penn State News. What they haven’t looked into are the couples’ everyday lives.

This is the aspect that the researchers in this study wanted to focus on.

Fighting with Your Spouse Equals Worse Pain

For most people, marriage has normal daily ups and downs. So how do those ups and downs contribute to chronic physical pain?


To find the answer, researchers studied two separate groups. These included one group which suffered from osteoarthritis in the knees and one dealing with type 2 diabetes.

The arthritis group consisted of 145 patients and their spouses while the diabetes group included 129 patients and their spouses.

Then, researchers had the patients record details about their pain and feelings toward their significant others in a daily journal. They continued doing so for just over 3 weeks per group.


Though both groups had very different chronic conditions, researchers couldn’t overlook the similarity of their results. They found that patients reported an increased feeling of pain on days when they were arguing with their spouse.

For those with arthritis, the effect was even worse. Patients would have an argument resulting in a negative mood and worsened pain.

Then, they would continue that negative mood and pain into the next day.


Talk about motivation for keeping your marriage strong and argument-free.

This information has led the researchers to conclude that, yes, arguing with your spouse can worsen physical ailments. More importantly, they mentioned how this effect might magnify itself over time—that is, if marital tension becomes a common occurrence.

Lynn Martire, the coauthor of the study and professor at the Penn State Center for Healthy Aging, says that these findings suggest a need to look beyond the disease itself.

Maybe part of improving a patient’s health is strengthening his or her relationships, particularly with a spouse. Or, maybe it’s about simply maintaining peace and harmony as much as possible in life.