For some couples, the keeping of malice, use of offensive words, and absconding from the matrimonial homes are commonplace, when they are not in good terms with one another.
However, a first-of-its-kind study has released a shocker to those couples found culprit of this, as it found that hostile marital relationships, can seriously harm gut health, raising the risk of leaky gut syndrome.
In a related development, Animasahun RA in Influence of Marital Discord, Separation and Divorce on Poor Academic Performance of Undergraduate Students of University of Ibadan, stated that marital conflict is one of the leading causes of death among women and is the most common cause of non-fatal injury.
The study led by Psychiatry Professor Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at the Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, described leaky gut syndrome as a disease that occurs when there are cracks or holes on the membrane lining the inside of the intestines, thereby allowing pathogens and food waste to get into the bloodstream and new pathogens to get into the gut. This could also lead to other conditions like gastrointestinal problems, inflammation, and others.
Before arriving at their findings, the researchers experimented with 43 healthy married couples aged 24–61, who were asked about the topics that mostly, bring about conflict in their relationships.
Having established money and in-laws as major causes of disagreement, the scientists allowed the couples to have 20 minutes discussions on these topics, while their conversations were being videotaped and assessed.
While blood samples of participants were collected before and after the interactions, the couples fighting style was characterised as hostile, if it included gestures such as eye rolling and verbal criticism of one’s spouse.
The findings published in journal Psychoneuroendocrinology and reported on Medical News Today, revealed that while scientists tested the samples for a marker of leaky gut syndrome called LPS-binding protein (LBP), they found that people who engaged in more hostile marital interactions had higher LBP levels in their blood.
The report further showed these participants had also been part of another study conducted by Ohio State researchers, which looked at how the convergence of marital hostility and depression can cause obesity.
So, in this study, the scientists were also able to look at the participants’ history of depression. They found that those who had experienced a depressive episode or another mood disorder were most vulnerable to the gut-harming effects of marital hostility.
In her remarks on the findings, Prof. Kiecolt-Glaser said: “We think that this everyday marital distress — at least for some people — is causing changes in the gut that lead to inflammation and, potentially, illness.”
“Hostility is a hallmark of bad marriages — the kind that lead to adverse physiological changes,” she added.
Rodgers B, Pryor, in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 1998; 38:867-872, noted that : “marital conflict is a phenomenon that destabilizes the couple, disrupt their joy and mostly felt by women yet, least recognized human rights abuse in the world. It is also a profound social problem, sapping women’s energy, compromising their physical health, and eroding their self-esteem”.
Conclusively, marital hostility is not healthy for couples nor their children.