London, Jan 24: It may cause some broken chinaware in your kitchen, but a verbal duel with your other half could be the secret to a long life.
Researchers have found that couples who keep pent up emotions are likely to die earlier than those who vent them. This is because trying to resolve conflict-- even in a heated manner-- is better for your health than bottling up tension, they argue. During the study, 192 couples-- differentiated into four categories-- were kept under observation for over 17 years.
The first category consisted of couples where both partners communicated their anger, the second of couples where the husband showed anger while the wife suppressed it, the third comprised couples where only the wife showed anger and the fourth where both parties suppressed it.
It was found that during the period of study death was twice as likely in the fourth group as compared to the chances of other three.
The results held good even when other factors such as age, smoking, weight, blood pressure, bronchial problems and cardiovascular risk were taken into account.
''When couples get together, one of their main jobs is reconciliation about conflict. Usually nobody is trained to do this. The key matter is, when the conflict happens, how do you resolve it,'' Ernest Harburg, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, which conducted the study, was quoted by Daily Mail as saying.
''When you don't, if you bury your anger, and you brood on it and you resent the other person or the attacker, and you don't try to resolve the problem, then you're in trouble,'' he said.
Professor Harburg stressed that the preliminary figures are small, and that researchers are now collecting follow-up data spread over 30 years.