Saying "I do" may have more effect on your health than you might expect.

Humans are social creatures and we need close, intimate relationships. Research shows that people in stable, supportive marriages are generally mentally and physically healthier than couples in relationships fraught with conflict. Strong personal relationships create less stress and generally offer greater psychological, economic, and social resources. Happily married individuals also tend to live longer.

It's no surprise that your day-to-day interpersonal relationships affect your immediate mood and physiology. However, over time, relationships with persistent conflict may have negative long-term effects on your mental and physical health. Furthermore, individuals in insecure relationships tend to be more vulnerable to long-term health risks.

If you're in a stressful relationship, you can improve the way you relate to your partner by raising your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is your ability to use and manage your emotions in positive and constructive ways.

People with high emotional intelligence have several common characteristics. They tend to be very self-aware and recognize that their emotions affect others. They remain reasonable even when facing strong emotions and effectively control their impulsive feelings and behaviors. These individuals recognize-and can correctly identify-other people's emotions and needs and don't take their negative emotions personally. They handle complaints and criticisms in appropriate ways, and develop and maintain good relationships with others.

Building Upon Your Relationship

Fortunately, emotional intelligence is not something innate just to certain people. You can develop your emotional intelligence and use it to create a positive environment and improve the way you relate to your partner.

Here are a few steps you can take.

  • Reduce stress and learn how to calm yourself when you're feeling overwhelmed.
  • Recognize your own emotions and express them in constructive ways.
  • Don't demand or expect your partner to change.
  • Use positive forms of non-verbal communications such as eye contact and positive gestures.
  • Maintain a sense of humor in the face of challenges.
  • Find other sources of fulfillment so you're not dependant on one person to meet all your needs.
  • Resolve conflicts positively. This means staying focused in the present, choosing your battles carefully, forgiving others, and ending conflicts that cannot be resolved.

Good relationships are not free from conflict. However, when partners resolve them constructively, it can strengthen their relationship. Improving the way you relate to your partner benefits both your mental and physical health-now and in the future.


ScienceDaily. "The Way You Relate to Your Partner Can Affect Your Long-Term Mental and Physical Health, Study Shows." Web. 18 June 2011. "Strategies and Tips for Good Mental Health."Web.

Simon, Robin W. and Barrett, Anne E. "Nonmarital Romantic Relationships and Mental

Health in Early Adulthood: Does the Association Differ for Women and Men?" Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51(2) (2010): 168 -182. Web. "Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Five Key Skills for Raising Your Emotional Intelligence." Web.

Connolly, Sally. "Emotionally Intelligent Relationships." Web. 28 July 2011.