Marriage and health: his and hers

Psychol Bull. 2001 Jul;127(4):472-503. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.127.4.472.


This review focuses on the pathway leading from the marital relationship to physical health. Evidence from 64 articles published in the past decade, particularly marital interaction studies, suggests that marital functioning is consequential for health; negative dimensions of marital functioning have indirect influences on health outcomes through depression and health habits, and direct influences on cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, neurosensory, and other physiological mechanisms. Moreover, individual difference variables such as trait hostility augment the impact of marital processes on biological systems. Emerging themes in the past decade include the importance of differentiating positive and negative dimensions of marital functioning, the explanatory power of behavioral data, and gender differences in the pathways from the marital relationship to physiological functioning. Contemporary models of gender that emphasize self-processes, traits, and roles furnish alternative perspectives on the differential costs and benefits of marriage for men's and women's health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression
  • Divorce
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Marriage / statistics & numerical data
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Women's Health*