Marital conflict down, satisfaction up in 21 minutes with writing exercise

Published: Saturday, March 9 2013 8:25 p.m. MST

A happy, high-quality marriage is one of the predictors of a happy, healthy, high-quality life. The New York Times' Tara Parker-Pope summed it up tidily a couple of years ago: "Contemporary studies, for instance, have shown that married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer or have heart attacks. A group of Swedish researchers has found that being married or cohabiting at midlife is associated with a lower risk for dementia. A study of two dozen causes of death in the Netherlands found that in virtually every category, ranging from violent deaths like homicide and car accidents to certain forms of cancer, the unmarried were at far higher risk than the married," she wrote.

But it has to be a good marriage. Studies show an unhappy, tempestuous marriage can be harmful to overall health.

Co-authors also include Laura B. Luchies of Redeemer University College, and Gregory M. Walton and James J. Gross of Stanford University.

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