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Is My Partner Making me Sick?

Question : Is my marriage making me sick?

Dear Aunty M,
I love my partner very much but found that during lockdown not only did we start to get on each others nerves metaphorically, I also experienced a general decline in my health. I wonder if it's possible that just being around each other too often has made things happen and can both my health and relationship be healthy again?

(Aunty M)

Answer : The stress of being cooped up with a partner for long periods of time can definitely put a strain on the most healthiest of relationships, and adding the extraordinary circumstances of the last few years, coupled with the contradictory science, media and regulations, have added extra layers of processing emotions.

Cortisol plays a major role in how we process feelings and emotions. It's a hormone that increases with negative emotions.

The overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including:



Digestive problems


Muscle tension and pain

Heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke

Sleep problems

Weight gain

Memory and concentration impairment

Psychologist Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, of Ohio State University College of Medicine in an experiment, measured couples' cortisol levels.

"Positive and negative words were counted during interviews to determine how each spouse viewed the quality of his or her marriage. The authors found that cortisol changes were influenced by both the men's and women's emotional language. The majority of men showed the expected drop in cortisol levels as they described their marriages, and they also used more positive words when they described their relationship history compared to the men whose cortisol levels remained constant or increased.

Women whose cortisol levels decreased used fewer negative words when describing their marriages. But when the wives described their marriages using negative words, their cortisol levels were much higher than their husbands who were experiencing the same negative events. Women appear to function as the 'barometers' of distressed marriages and are in part more sensitive to negative marital interactions than men", said Dr. Kiecott-Glaser.

Therefore, consider how you and your partner communicate, as negative words could be increasing your cortisol levels and stressing both mind and body.

Also consider having a health check up, reassess your food intake and exercise levels. Spring is the time to seed, care for and grow… let this approach work for both your relationship, well-being and your garden as well. for further information and help with emotions, motivation and change.

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