If you are in a marriage where you never know how your spouse is going to react, it may actually be hazardous to your health. There has been a long held general belief that marriage is healthier for a person than divorce; that a separation is not as healthy as togetherness. However, the results of research published this month by Brigham Young University showed that ambivalence in a relationship — the feeling that a partner may be unpredictable with his or her support or negativity — can take a quiet toll on the health of an individual. Surprisingly, knowing that your spouse is going to react in a certain way, even if it is negative, is healthier for a person than not knowing what is going to happen. It is the uncertainty that causes the jump in blood pressure and the general feeling of unease. If you know the other person is going to react in a certain way, even if it is negative, you can prepare yourself for the interaction. But if you have no clear understanding of how the other person is going to react, you can’t prepare. If you know, you have to walk on eggshells it is easier to watch your step.
Most marriages have good and bad points, ups and downs, and that is normal. If you are already aware that if your son plays video games with zombies and gore, there is going to be a confrontation with the other parent, you will work out a way to handle the problem. But if you and Junior are sitting in the family room and Junior is playing Zombie Massacre, just like he has done every day for the past three weeks, and as usual, your spouse walks in the door at 6:00 P.M. and instead of the usual warm greeting, Junior ends up in his room crying that the other parent has destroyed his favorite game, then the next time Junior is playing a game when the other parent is coming home, you start to worry, blood pressure goes up, you may change your conduct. So you say “Is it okay for Junior to play Zombies meet Godzilla?” and the other parent says “Yeah, I love those zombie and monster games.” That’s when the problem starts, when is something OK, when isn’t it OK, how do you know? It is the inability to know how the other partner will react that causes the difficulty.
But just because the ambivalent relationship has been found unhealthy, does not mean that all other types of relationships are good for you. If you are in a relationship where you are living in fear that you constantly expect negative conduct that is not a healthy relationship. And if the negative conduct includes abuse, either physical or emotional, you should not have to tolerate such behavior. You have choices. You can leave, you can get help. In Wake County, call Interact. Interact will help you get to a safe place. They don’t care if you are male, female, a child, gay, straight, married, unmarried, whatever. It doesn’t matter. They want you to find a safe place. Call any time. It’s confidential, it’s free, they have 24 Hour Crisis Lines:
Domestic Violence 919-828-7740 | 866-291-0855 toll-free
Sexual Assault 919-828-3005 | 866-291-0853 toll-free
Solace Center 919-828-3067 | 866-291-0854 toll-free