You make me sick: marital quality and health over the life course

J Health Soc Behav. 2006 Mar;47(1):1-16. doi: 10.1177/002214650604700101.


We work from a life course perspective and identify several reasons to expect age and gender differences in the link between marital quality and health. We present growth curve evidence from a national longitudinal survey to show that marital strain accelerates the typical decline in self-rated health that occurs over time and that this adverse effect is greater at older ages. These findings fit with recent theoretical work on cumulative adversity in that marital strain seems to have a cumulative effect on health over time-an effect that produces increasing vulnerability to marital strain with age. Contrary to expectations, marital quality seems to affect the health of men and women in similar ways across the life course.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Sex Factors*
  • United States