Skip to main content
Skip to main menu

Slideshow

Get your COVID Vaccine

The relationship between relationships and health

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 11:32am

How important is it to have a caring and supportive partner? We all understand, perhaps intutively, that being a part of a couple has dramatic impacts on our quality of life, and now sociology researchers have published evidence on this question:

Published in the Journal of Family Psychology, the research explores the connection between romantic relationships and health. Using data from primarily African-American couples, the findings include evidence for the importance of positive partner behavior in predicting health. The study also found that interracial couples-whether dating, cohabiting or married-tend to report worse health than couples of the same race.

"There is a great body of research that says romantic relationship quality matters, though much of that research is on married couples," said Ashley Barr, a recent doctoral graduate in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences' sociology department and lead author on the study. "We approached the question from a different angle, asking how romantic relationships, in their varied forms, matter for young people in the transition to adulthood."

The study used data from the Family and Community Health Study, a UGA research project in operation since 1995. The results about the importance of quality in the relationship no matter the status matched the researchers' hypotheses. They also found that having a hostile partner-being in a low-quality relationship-was more disadvantageous in cohabiting or married relationships.

While the racial components of this work are a bit disconcerting - we still have far to go for mixed-race couples to have the positive health outcomes of their relationships match that of same-race couples - it's important to acknowledge this disparity so that we can work to overcome it. Soon there will likely be similar research supporting the impacts of same-sex couples, though likely that research, too, will reflect lingering biases in American society. But here's to giving new meaning to the term 'healthy relationships.'

Image: Couple kissing in the French Quarter, New Orleans, via a creative commons license.

Support Franklin College

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.