Falling in love can shake up your life quite a bit. But the last thing on your mind when it happens, most likely, is how your beloved will tweak your cholesterol levels.
However, a large body of research shows that relationships influence physical well-being as well as emotional health. A romantic partner often has more influence on your behavior than anyone else. Exactly how your health will be affected is sometimes obvious and sometimes as mysterious as love itself.
Sustained relationships tend to occur among people who have comparable backgrounds, attitudes, and behaviors. When two people marry, their habits become even more alike. A study of newlyweds found that each individual's health behaviors before marriage affected those same behaviors in their partner in the years after the wedding. Because of this, a condition in one spouse often places the other at increased risk for the same disorder -- including cancer, stroke, arthritis, hypertension, asthma, depression, and peptic ulcer disease.
The good news is, you can influence your beloved's health just by changing your own behavior. If one spouse quits smoking, studies show that the other is six to eight times more likely to swear off cigarettes, too. If one gives up alcohol, the other is five times more likely to stop drinking.
Psychology Today January 27, 2009