Tuesday, August 21 , 2018, 5:38 pm | Fair 73º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Here’s Why Long-Term Relationships Can Improve Your Overall Health

Click to view larger
(Cottage Health photo via Shutterstock)

While the roller coaster of dating can pull people down and boost them up, those who wind up in a stable, long-term relationship tend to be healthier than ones who aren’t.

“If you look at people who have good marriages, for instance, they do the best on just about every measure of physical health and emotional health that you could look at,” said Dr. Paul Erickson, medical director for psychiatry and chemical dependency at Cottage Health.

One study actually found that couples who have less conflict healed at significantly faster rates from a blister injury than those who have a high level of conflict.

Likewise, a person’s health benefits from positive social relationships that aren’t romantic, and that’s evident from the start of life.

“Infants who have a good bond with parents develop secure attachments, and secure attachments tend to lead to both better relationships and physical health later in life,” Erickson said.

Similar principles come into play at a community level, where a high level of cohesion and connectedness can positively affect the health of people on a larger scale.

“I think the importance of loving relationships and social connections is in general underestimated,” Erickson said.

Lisa Amador, founder of Santa Barbara Matchmaking, not only serves as a matchmaker but also as a dating coach, helping people build strong ties with the right person.

“I see it all around me,” she said. “People who are in happy relationships are happier. They have less stress in their lives.”

Life’s highs and lows are easier to handle when you share them with someone else, and the benefits go both ways, she says.

“When you are supporting someone it makes you feel good,” she said.

So what’s the recipe for keeping a long-term relationship like marriage healthy?

Sherry Penn-Hummel is a Cottage Health marriage and family therapist who assists the organization’s employees and their families. Her list of components for a healthy relationship includes honesty and trustworthiness — factors that seem to speak for themselves.

In addition, she says, being considerate and understanding of your partner can help keep a relationship strong. Part of that is not taking the other person’s contributions and feelings for granted.

“For example, you might recognize how many hours they work a day and how tired they might be,” she explained. “Try to be understanding of how difficult it is to have that responsibility.”

She advises that it’s also critical to have strong, clear communication that allows for negotiation and compromise.

“You’ve got two people in a partnership, and you might not see eye to eye on something,” Penn-Hummel said.

You also have to work out who does what for the family and household, even the chores that no one wants to do. Through that process, there should be a sense of equality.

“You need the conversation to be about what would work for you, what would work for me, what would work for the family,” she said.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.


Special Reports

Heroin Rising
<p>Lizette Correa shares a moment with her 9-month-old daughter, Layla, outside their Goleta home. Correa is about to graduate from Project Recovery, a program of the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and is determined to overcome her heroin addiction — for herself and for her daughter. “I look at her and I think ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example, I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs’,” she says.</p>

In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

Santa Barbara County sounds alarm as opiate drug use escalates, spreads into mainstream population
Safety Net Series
<p>Charles Condelos, a retired banker, regularly goes to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics for his primary care and to renew his prescription for back pain medication. He says Dr. Charles Fenzi, who was treating him that day at the Westside Clinic, and Dr. Susan Lawton are some of the best people he’s ever met.</p>

Safety Net: Patchwork of Clinics Struggles to Keep Santa Barbara County Healthy

Clinics that take all comers a lifeline for low-income patients, with new health-care law about to feed even more into overburdened system. First in a series
Prescription for Abuse
<p>American Medical Response emergency medical technicians arrive at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with little time to spare for victims of prescription drug overdoses.</p>

Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

Evidence of addiction shows an alarming escalation, Noozhawk finds in Prescription for Abuse special report
Mental Health
<p>Rich Detty and his late wife knew something was wrong with their son, Cliff, but were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get him help from the mental health system. Cliff Detty, 46, died in April while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.</p>

While Son Struggled with Mental Illness, Father Fought His Own Battle

Cliff Detty's death reveals scope, limitations of seemingly impenetrable mental health system. First in a series