PhotoListen, gentlemen -- even an unhappy marriage may be good for you. Researchers say a wife's nagging may annoy her husband, but it may also slow the onset of diabetes and promote successful treatment once the disease develops.

Michigan State University sociologist Hui Liu led the study, which found that an increase in marital unhappiness actually lowered the risk of developing diabetes. 

"The study challenges the traditional assumption that negative marital quality is always detrimental to health," said Liu. "It also encourages family scholars to distinguish different sources and types of marital quality. Sometimes, nagging is caring."

Diabetes requires frequent monitoring and it could be that while wives' prodding may be annoying, it may also be beneficial to the husbands' health.

Not one-sided

The benefits of marriage don't all flow in one direction, though.

The study found that, for women, a good marriage was related to a lower risk of being diabetic five years later. Women may be more sensitive than men to the quality of a relationship and thus more likely to experience a health boost from a good-quality relationship, Liu said.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. More than 29 million Americans had diabetes in 2012, or 9.3 percent of the population.

Since diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in the United States, implementation of public policies and programs designed to promote marital quality should also reduce the risk of diabetes and promote health and longevity, especially for women at older ages," the study says.

Study details

Liu and her team used data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. They analyzed survey results from 1,228 married respondents over five years.

At the onset of the study, the respondents were 57 to 85 years old; 389 had diabetes at the end of the study.

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