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For Women, A Partner Older Than Them By 6 Years, Is Bad News For Their Health, Says Study

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When you’re in a relationship with someone, your lifestyle and habits aren’t unaffected by theirs. They even say people in a relationship start looking like each other. Now that sounds doubtful because aren’t features supposed to be a genetic thing? How can someone not related to you by blood start looking like you? Well, looks go beyond facial features. Couples start altering their style to complement each other, subconsciously. Similarly, when you’re married to or cohabiting with a partner, they have an impact on much more than your outfit choices. Your spouse can affect your health and how.

According to a recent study, the age gap between you and your spouse can have an impact on your health. However, there is a very evident gender disparity in the same. Men with younger spouses had a positive impact on their health while women with younger spouses had a negative impact. Meanwhile, men with an older spouse experienced deteriorated health and women did the same “The spousal age gap has been associated with survival probabilities, although differently by gender: having a younger spouse is beneficial for men but detrimental for women, whereas having an older spouse is detrimental for both,” the study reports. However, the age gap in question being more than six years.

Being a caregiver

Just mere age gap though doesn’t justify your partner’s role in your health. For instance, women tend to be primary caregivers (yeah, stereotypical gender expectations exist!). “Being the caregiver of one’s partner is a known risk factor for physical and mental health,17 a task that women fulfil more often than men due to their higher life expectancy and the traditional gender role norms roles,” the study says. Since typically an older man has more health concerns, the wife has more responsibilities and in all that, often there is fatigue and stress. Even her own health is often neglected!

Education has a role to play in your health

“Regarding the observed difference in each sex-specific model, the variable that combines the educational attainment of both partners showed significantly higher predicted probabilities of having less than good health among low-educated women with low-educated partners (the reference category) compared to medium-educated women with equal or higher educated partners as well as higher-educated women irrespective of their partner’s educational level,” the study points out. I believe if both the partners are low-educated and aren’t financially stable, it can create a lot of stress which can cause health issues. Even the access to healthier choices and treatments maybe restricted due to poor finances.

Living with an unhealthy partner causes women’s health to suffer

“Women’s health is more sensitive to the characteristics of the partner and household as more of the variability in female health status was explained by the tested variables. Co-residing with a partner not in good health is associated with almost double the probability of not having good health,” the study reported. One of the reasons behind this link can be selective mating; we tend to go for a person with similar behaviour tendencies. Another reason can be that partners influence each other’s lifestyle choices. For instance, it’s more difficult to quit smoking if your partner smokes. Or you tend to drink more often if your partner does too. Similarly, if your partner is keen on eating healthy, some of it will rub off on you!

Women’s health deteriorate due to an increased workload

When your husband is not in good shape, it increases the domestic workload on the wife. The study pointed out that being married to a much older guy “penalised female health.” “Conversely, the additional workload is lower for husbands when their wives have poor health as this is usually shared with other, mainly female, relatives, particularly daughters or daughters-in-law,” the study points. There’s a 72 % probability of a woman’s health deteriorating if her husband is in poor health.

Your partner can make you gain weight too!

If your partner’s metabolism is amazing but yours is shit, he will not gain weight but you will if you guys are surviving on pizzas and beers! In 2015, researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that if your spouse met the weekly requirement of physical activity, there’s a good chance you will too. Another study published in 2016 by PLOS One said that people with an obese spouse have a 40 % chance of gaining weight themselves!

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Being healthy as a couple

Well, being in a happy relationship has health benefits too. For instance, you have better life expectancy, you recover better from cardiac problems and sleeping next to someone you love helps you sleep better too! But if your spouse is unhealthy it can affect your health and it is important that you work towards wellbeing as a couple. The moral of the story isn’t abandoning your partner for being in poor health but understanding what your goals are and how you can be in good shape. “Our result therefore reinforces the importance of involving the patient’s partner as this would ease implementing specific interventions to achieve moderate habit changes (and may also benefit from it),” the study concludes.

For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, you will have to hold your ground and explain it to your partner that he can choose to have junk food on his own but if you’re sharing plates, it has to be healthy. You need to be dedicated enough to your health so your partner starts adapting a healthy lifestyle too. And if you have to take care of an older partner, unless they are of your grandpa’s age, it is advisable to encourage them to be more independent which can allow you to take care of your own health as well!

ALSO READ: How To Deal With The Emotional Triggers In Your Relationship


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