From: The New York Times

The Ambivalent Marriage Takes a Toll on Health

The New York Times:

Every marriage has highs and lows from time to time, but some relationships are both good and bad on a regular basis. Call it the ambivalent marriage — not always terrible, but not always great, either.

While many couples can no doubt relate to this not bad, but not good, state of affairs, new research shows that ambivalence in a relationship — the feeling that a partner may be unpredictable with his or her support or negativity — can take a quiet toll on the health of an individual.

Arthur Aron of the Interpersonal Relationships Lab at Stony Brook University in New York, notes that every marriage will inevitably have good and bad qualities. But Dr. Aron, who was not involved in the B.Y.U. study, said the results suggest that it is the unpredictable nature of an ambivalent relationship that may be taking the toll.

“Being sometimes supportive and sometimes not supportive is not the same thing as being moderately supportive all the time,” Dr. Aron said. “Part of the issue may be the unpredictability. When you know someone is not going to be supportive, you acclimatize to that. But if they are sometimes one way and sometimes the other way, it’s much harder.”

James A. Coan, the University of Virginia professor who conducted the hand-holding studies, said couples who find they have an ambivalent relationship should not panic about the study findings, but should feel motivated to work on the relationship and seek counseling before their problems become intractable.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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