While previous research links marriage with multiple health benefits, a new US research has suggested that married straight couples and cohabiting gay and lesbian couples in long-term intimate relationships may pick up each other’s unhealthy habits as well.
Corinne Reczek, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of sociology, reports three distinct findings into how unhealthy habits were promoted through these long-term, intimate relationships: through the direct bad influence of one partner, through health habit synchronicity and through the notion of personal responsibility.
Reczek reports that gay, lesbian and straight couples all described the “bad influence” theme, while in straight partnerships men were nearly always viewed as the “bad influence”.
“The finding that one partner is a ‘direct bad influence’ suggests that individuals converge in health habits across the course of their relationship, because one individual’s unhealthy habits directly promotes the other’s unhealthy habits,” said Reczek.
“While previous research focuses nearly exclusively on how intimate relationships – particularly marriage – are health-promoting, these findings extend this research to argue that intimate partners are cognizant of the ways in which they promote the unhealthy habits of one another,” she stated.
The findings will be presented Aug. 23 at the 106th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas.