Research has shown that the quality of a personís marriage can help predict their recovery from heart surgery.
While a good marriage can give a person a reason to fight their way back to health, a bad marriage can be worse for a patient than no marriage at all, says Dr James
Coyne, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, who has studied the effects of marital quality on recovery from congestive heart failure.
According to a study for The American Journal of Cardiology, Dr Coyne and his colleagues videotaped couplesí arguments in their homes and grouped them according to the negativity of their interactions.
Those heart patients who were more negative with their spouses were 1.8 times as likely to die within four years as those who were given less negative ratings.
Dr Linda Waite, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, said: "Marriage is like a seat belt. We can put it in exactly the same category as eating a good diet, getting exercise and not smoking."
Two other studies found that marital strain was linked to ulcers in the stomach and intestine.