Women's hormones reveal state of their marriages

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

A couple's chances of a happy marriage can be gauged in half an hour by measuring hormonal changes in a woman's body.

A couple's chances of a happy marriage can be gauged in half an hour by measuring hormonal changes in a woman's body.

Women are far more sensitive to the early signs of marital discord and those whose hormonal levels rose during a 30-minute assessment were twice as likely to be divorced a decade later, research shows.

Academics from the Ohio State University College of Medicine measured the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases with negative emotions but not with positive emotions, in 90 newlyweds during a 30-minute interview with the couple.

The couples were asked to discuss two or three marital issues such as in-laws, finances and leisure time while their cortisol levels and language were assessed. Couples were not considered if either spouse had chronic health problems that might compromise their immunity or if either suffered from a psychological disorder.

Positive and negative words used by the couple were counted during the interview to judge how each spouse viewed the quality of the marriage. The researchers found that the level of stress hormone in their bodies was influenced by both the men's and women's emotional language.

However, despite the majority of men showing the expected drop in cortisol levels as they described good parts of their marriage, their levels of the stress hormone did not alter when they were describing negative aspects.

In contrast, when women used negative words to describe their marriages, their cortisol levels were much higher than their husbands' who were experiencing the same negative event.

Janice Kiecolt Glaser, the study's author, said: "Women appear to function as the barometer of distressed marriages and are in part more sensitive to negative marital interactions than men.

"Men's cortisol changes were not related to marital status eight to 12 years later," she said. "But the women whose cortisol increased as they recounted their marital history earlier on were more than twice as likely to be divorced a decade later.

In Britain, two out of five marriages now end in divorce, with women instigating di-vorce in nearly all cases.

Comments