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'Face-to-Face' Couples Achieve Better Immune and Heart Health


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If your health isn't so hot, it may be time to start improving your marriage. That's because research shows a secure marriage actually helps to strengthen your physical health.

And with cold and flu season upon us, it's not just time to wash your hands, it's also time to work on your relationship.

"A secure marriage has all kinds of health-inducing benefits," said Dr. Jesse Gill, marriage expert and the author of Face to Face: Seven Keys to a Secure Marriage.

"When we talk about a secure marriage, that's a relationship where I know that no matter what comes up, I can turn to my spouse and I know that they're going to be there for me," Gill said.

When couples work to build that secure connection, it releases the hormone called oxytocin which generates healthy effects.

"It has all these life-giving properties," Gill explained.

Our bodies will release oxytocin when we engage in simple acts of love, like long hugs or "face-to-face" time with our mate.

That's why oxytocin is sometimes referred to as "the cuddle hormone" because it gets released when you're affectionate or experience physical affection from your spouse.

"Oxytocin helps us regulate our blood pressure better; it helps us improve our immune system functioning; it helps us even metabolize glucose better," Gill said.

But when couples fight and get stuck in a cycle of conflict, that can release the stress hormone cortisol into your body, which negatively affects blood pressure, weakens your immune system, and even leads to more belly fat.

Gill said, for the sake of their marriages and their health, couples need to be intentional about coming together to build a firm foundation.

And there is hope for couples who want to start breaking their negative cycles of conflict.

He said his seven keys can help couples "hone in on building that face-to-face connection," and gain a better understanding of why they're reacting to each other they way they do.

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