Friday, 18 June 2010

Increasing body of evidence supporting marriage

One thing about traditional universities, which an online college program still cannot match, is how much interaction you have with the faculty. This can be an advantage, sometimes. But personality can do some strange things to an education. 

Once upon a time when I was in university, I was preparing for a French oral exam and the word going around was that the French faculty were passing and failing students on the basis of their views on marriage. Mademoiselle X would ask a student how important they considered marriage. If the student answered that they thought marriage was very important then he/she got even stickier French questions about how marriage was ‘an outdated institution’. The student who spoke in favour of marriage got perplexing, psychoanalytical questions and had a higher chance of failing. I took the disingenuous approach, I made the French faculty laugh. With my pigeon French I said ‘och, what would I know about marriage, who would marry me anyway? Or if I do marry, you’ll see me on Jerry Springer in a few years…’

I didn’t really ‘get’ what the French department in university (all unmarried) had against marriage at the time. It was a sort of bitterness; a sort of ‘none of us have succeeded in getting wed, so it must be bad.’ I don’t have the courage, but maybe I ought to send the following research to the French Department of my old university.

‘People who are happily married enjoy the added benefit of faster healing from cuts, an Irish medical conference heard recently. This is thanks to oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone”, which is most commonly known to stimulate and sustain labour in late pregnancy. Dr Jean Philipe Gouin from Ohio State University told a conference at Trinity College, Dublin, that in his study, individuals with the highest levels of oxytocin showed the fastest wound healing.

“We created small blister wounds on the forearms of 37 married couples and then assessed the rate of healing for two weeks,” he told the PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society conference. He said married couples that display “more positive social interactions” heal quicker than those who have a less-positive relationship.

“Social relationships can have many beneficial effects on health. This research, funded by the US National Institutes of Health, shows that the hormone oxytocin may be an important link between the quality of our relationships and state of our health. Each couple was also asked to take part in a structured interaction task in which each participant solicited and offered social support to their partner.

During these tasks, we systematically evaluated the quality of the interaction between the couples, and measured the hormone oxytocin in blood samples,” he said. “Participants who displayed more positive behaviours in our laboratory setting showed faster wound healing than their less-positive counterparts.”

The conference also heard that a strong sense of purpose in life might reduce the inflammation that can cause pain in old people who have long-term disease. “Our new study shows that, in people with similar levels of chronic disease burden, having a strong sense of purpose in life is linked with lower levels of inflammation,” said Dr Elliot Friedman of the University of Wisconsin.’
The above report is available from Family and Life. See here.

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