A recent study found that men whose marriages were on the rocks had a lower risk of diabetes than men in a happy marriage. One would think the opposite would be true.
Sociologists at Michigan State University and the University of Chicago looked at the results of two large surveys of older married people. They focused on 1,228 survey respondents – all married women and men between the ages of 57 years old and 84 years old – who responded to two surveys in 2005 and 2010. Both times, participants were asked questions about their marriage and their relationships with their spouses, and lab samples were taken, according to a Medscape report.
When researchers compared the results from both time periods, they found that marital quality affected the diabetes risk of both men and women, but in polar opposite ways. Women who reported an increase in marital quality in the five-year period had a lower risk of a Type 2 diagnosis than their peers. That seems to make intuitive sense, but what was surprising was that the opposite was true with men. Men who reported a decrease in marital quality also had a lower risk of Type 2 than their happier male counterparts.
Researchers didn’t have a clear understanding as to why the risk of diabetes would be different in men and women in happy marriages. The lead researcher found a similar phenomenon occurring with cardiovascular health and couldn’t trace why this occurred then, either. Such a lack of an explanation for the findings could lead to endless “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” speculation.
It’s possible that this study’s findings might not be replicated in long-term studies, as other health studies on marriage and health had findings pointing that to the fact that this might have been a short-term phenomenon. In 2011, for example, researchers analyzing 90 studies on marriage and health found that single men and women had, on average, shorter lifespans than their married counterparts. Perhaps if the University of Chicago and Michigan State researchers continued to track those 1,228 survey participants, they might find that the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems would equal out statistically over time.
Want more news on Type 2 diabetes? Subscribe to our newsletter here.
Have Type 1 Diabetes? Try Insulin Nation, our sister publication.