A New Study Involving Married Couples Has Shown That Having An Unsupportive Partner Is Linked To Higher Levels Of The Stress Hormone Cortisol, Which Can Worsen Physical Health Over Time

Darya - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

Having an unsupportive partner can really stress out a relationship – and put a damper on more than your mental health.

Binghamton University researchers have discovered a link between having an unsupportive partner and higher amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. This can actually harm your physical health.

Their findings highlight how couples who support and care for each other tend to have better emotional connections, as shown through lower levels of cortisol, indicating less stress.

Led by Professor Richard Mattson, the team focused on studying 191 straight and married couples to explore whether enhanced communication skills, along with the exchange of social support, could result in decreased levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that’s closely linked to stress over a long period.

During the study, couples engaged in two separate 10-minute discussions about personal topics not related to their marriages.

Afterward, the researchers observed the couples’ interactions for indicators of both positive and negative social support, both given and received.

They also assessed how the participants felt about the support they received. Then, to measure cortisol levels, the researchers collected saliva samples from the participants.

“We found that wives who received support more negatively (e.g., rejecting help) felt less understood, validated, and cared for by a partner, which had a ‘stress-amplifying’ effect, meaning cortisol increased across the interaction,” Mattson explained.

“Couples felt more understood, validated and cared for when their partners showed positive support skills, and less so when they showed negative communication skills.”

Darya – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered to your inbox.

1 of 3