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

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(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.

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