Having the ability to read your spouse’s mood can be a good thing. When partners can sense that something is weighing on the mind of their loved one, they can spring into action with efforts to help ease their mental burden.
"We found that your partner's stress, and not your own, predicted an increased waist circumference over time," said Kira Birditt, a research associate professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
Quality of marriage
Birditt and her colleagues found that when a stressful circumstance occurred for more than a year, it could lead to a negative quality of marriage -- and, in turn, weight gain. The results also appeared to vary by gender.
"Wives were 1.6 times more likely to have an increase in waist circumference when their husbands reported greater stress and greater negative marriage quality," Birditt said.
Interestingly, husbands were more than twice as likely to have a 10% increase in waist size when their wives were stressed but weren’t complaining about marriage quality. Birditt said she couldn't explain that difference.
The findings show that "marriage has powerful influences on health," the authors said. Birditt pointed out that the effect of marriage quality on older couples’ weight could be explained by the use of one particular coping strategy: eating.
The study is published in the Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences.