Disability can strengthen older marriages

January 15, 2009


It can be a daunting thought in a relationship that if one partner is incapacitated or disabled in some way we may wonder about how we would cope. Well there is very good news from new research – particularly for older couples. An encouraging new study from Professor Jeremy Yorgason at Brigham Young University was reported in the academic journal ‘Research on Aging’ and showed that both men and women – regardless of age – reported being happier in their marriage after they themselves became physically disabled. It may seem strange that when one partner loses the ability to perform routine daily activities it improves the state of their relationship: finds that the onset of physical disability boosts marital happiness more often than not. It seems to apply more to men who are looking after their wives, rather than the other way round, but exactly why physical limitations boost marital happiness is not fully understood.

One theory is that by taking on a more active and caring role for their partner the couple experience more interaction with each other than they did before. The situation seemed to provide the men in the study an opportunity to support and spend more time with their wives and ultimately enhanced their appreciation of their relationship.

This is not of course to say that looking after a less able partner does not have its own stresses and strains, but it is good to know that there is also a bonus to be found there for many people in this situation.


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