Are we happy in love because we are balanced, or balanced because we are happy as a couple? Science has decided and pleads in favor of the committed couple.
What impact do couples and love have on mental health? The question may arise, especially for people who have been working together for many years. But is love life more possible for people who feel mentally well? Or is it the fact of being in love and in a relationship that would have a positive effect? In a brief article published in Current Opinion in Psychology, Based on different studies on the subject, researchers Scott Braithwaite and Julianne Holt-Lunstad wonder in which direction the causal arrow is pointing: “from marriage to mental health, or vice versa?”
Marriage promotes mental health
Quite logically, the initial hypothesis postulates that mental health increases the chances of ending up in a romantic relationship. We would therefore have more chance of nurturing a healthy and long relationship, if our mental health is already in good shape. But another common assumption is that the experience of marriage is associated with better mental health. Numerous studies show that “those who maintain healthy and satisfying relationships enjoy better mental health and improvement in the quality of relationships precedes improvement in mental health” indicate the authors.
In conducting their review, the researchers learned that there is a stronger link between relationships and mental health than the other way around. So people in committed marriages are more likely to have better mental health than those in couples without any commitment. Therefore, relationship type would play an important role in the association between mental health and relationship quality.
But improving your mental health doesn’t promise meeting your soul mate
The authors also add a clarification: “Improving relationships improves mental health, but improving mental health does not reliably improve relationships.”
Indeed, in humans, negative constructs such as depression and depressive symptoms have a greater impact on romantic relationships than positive constructs (e.g., self-esteem, health, happiness, satisfaction). The authors conclude that the literature suggests that “Relationships are a key part of human functioning and can potentially influence a wide range of mental health outcomes.” This means that healthy romantic relationships would thus constitute a protective factor against poor mental health. But in this observation, the researchers offer one last tip: it seems more important to prevent bad relationships than to improve “fairly good” relationships. So run away from relationships that hurt you and focus on those that will bring you positive!