30 November 2001
Nagging your husband about leaving the toilet seat up could actually be more beneficial for your health - and his - than avoiding of the issue.
According to US researchers, people who steer clear of relationship problems experience significantly greater systolic blood pressure than the initiators of the discussion.
The study — published in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine (2001;24:401-21) — involved 60 couples, each of whom were split into an avoider or initiator classification.
Researchers then measured participants' blood pressure and heart rate reactivity under a range of activities including a mental math test, while watching a marital argument on video and during a conjoint interview (both partners together).
All avoiders were found to have significantly greater systolic blood pressure during the interview than initiators, but the diastolic and systolic blood pressure reactivity in husbands who had avoider wives was significantly higher than in husbands of initiator wives.
Lead author Dr Wayne Denton said the frustration of dealing with an avoiding spouse might lead into increased blood pressure.
'Physiologic differences may partially explain the common problem in relationships where one person wants to talk about the relationship while the other person tries to avoid such discussions.'
He said while it was commonly assumed that women wanted to discuss relationship problems, his findings show that the stereotype is only accurate about two-thirds of the time.
Last Reviewed: 27 November 2001