Study: How Happy Couples Argue

In marriage, conflict is inevitable. Even the happiest couples argue. And research shows they tend to argue about the same topics as unhappy couples: children, money, in-laws, intimacy.

So, what distinguishes happy couples? According to “What are the Marital Problems of Happy Couples? A Multi-method, Two-Sample Investigation,” a study published this August in Family Process, it is the way happy couples argue that may make a difference.

“Happy couples tend to take a solution-oriented approach to conflict, and this is clear even in the topics that they choose to discuss,” said lead author Amy Rauer, associate professor of child and family studies and director of the Relationships and Development Lab in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

Rauer and three colleagues—Allen Sabey of Northwestern University, Christine Proulx of the University of Missouri, and Brenda Volling of the University of Michigan— observed two samples of couples who describe themselves as happily married. Fifty-seven of the couples were in their mid- to late 30s and had been married an average of nine years; 64 of the couples were in their early 70s and had been married an average of 42 years.

Couples in both samples similarly ranked their most and least serious issues. Intimacy, leisure, household, communication, and money were the most serious, as well as health for the older couples; couples in both samples ranked jealousy, religion, and family as the least serious.

When researchers observed couples discussing marital problems, all couples focused on issues with clearer solutions, such as the distribution of household labor and how to spend leisure time.

“Re-balancing chores may not be easy, but it lends itself to more concrete solutions than other issues,” Rauer said. “One spouse could do more of certain chores to balance the scales.”

The couples rarely chose to argue about issues that are more difficult to resolve. And Rauer suggests that this strategic decision may be one of the keys to their marital success.

“Focusing on the perpetual, more-difficult-to-solve problems may undermine partners’ confidence in the relationship,” Rauer said.

Instead, to the extent it is possible, focusing first on more solvable problems may be an effective way to build up both partners’ sense of security in the relationship.

“If couples feel that they can work together to resolve their issues, it may give them the confidence to move on to tackling the more difficult issues,” Rauer said.

As to which issues may be more difficult to resolve, couples avoided discussing challenges regarding their spouse’s health and physical intimacy. These issues may be more difficult to address without challenging their partner’s sense of competence or making the partner feel vulnerable or embarrassed, resulting in more conflict.

“Since these issues tend to be more difficult to resolve, they are more likely to lead to less marital happiness or the dissolution of the relationship, especially if couples have not banked up any previous successes solving other marital issues,” Rauer said.

Researchers also found that couples who were married longer reported fewer serious issues and argued less overall. This is consistent with previous research suggesting that older partners’ perceptions of spending less time with each other may lead them to prioritize their marriage and decide some issues are not worth the argument.

In other words, couples may want to choose their battles wisely, according to Rauer.

“Being able to successfully differentiate between issues that need to be resolved versus those that can be laid aside for now may be one of the keys to a long-lasting, happy relationship.”

Source: The University of Tennessee Knoxville

Chinese Shanghai-style Soy Duck

Ingredients

4-1/2 lb duck
2 teaspoons salt
4 scallions, each tied in a knot
4 x 1/2-inch slices ginger, smashed with the flat side of a cleaver
6 star anise
3 cinnamon or cassia sticks
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
1/2 cup Shaoxing rice wine
3/4 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
3 oz rock sugar

Method

  1. Rinse the duck, drain, and remove any fat from the cavity opening and around the neck. Cut off and discard the tail.
  2. Blanch the duck in a saucepan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then refresh in cold water, pat dry and rub the salt inside the cavity.
  3. Place the duck, breast side up, in a clay pot or braising pan, and add the scallions, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, rice wine, soy sauces, rock sugar and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40-45 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the duck to cool in the liquid for 2-3 hours, transferring the clay pot to the fridge once it is cool enough.
  4. Keep in the fridge until completely cold (you can keep the duck in the liquid overnight and serve it the next day).
  5. To serve, remove the duck from the liquid and drain well. Using a cleaver, cut the duck through the bones into bite-size pieces.
  6. Traditionally, this dish is served at room temperature, but if you would like to serve it hot, put the clay pot with the duck and the liquid back on the stove and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the duck is completely heated through.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: The Food of China

In Pictures: Home-cooked Quick and Easy Udon

Shorter People Are at Higher Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Short stature is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes).Tall stature is associated with a lower risk, with each 10cm difference in height associated with a 41% decreased risk of diabetes in men and a 33% decreased risk in women.

The increased risk in shorter individuals may be due to higher liver fat content and a less favourable profile of cardiometabolic risk factors, say the authors that include Dr Clemens Wittenbecher and Professor Matthias Schulze, of the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Germany, and colleagues.

Short stature has been linked to higher risk of diabetes in several studies, suggesting that height could be used to predict the risk for the condition. It has been reported that insulin sensitivity and beta cell function are better in taller people. Short stature is related to higher cardiovascular risk, a risk that might in part be mediated by cardiometabolic risk factors relevant to type 2 diabetes – for example blood pressure, blood fats and inflammation.

This new study used data obtained in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) – Potsdam; a study that included 27,548 participants – 16, 644 women aged between 35 and 65 years and 10,904 men aged between 40 and 65 years – recruited from the general population of Potsdam, Germany between 1994 and 1998.

A variety of physical data were collected from participants, including body weight, total body height and sitting height (with leg length calculated as the difference between the two), waist circumference and blood pressure. For this study, a sub-cohort of 2,500 participants (approx. 10%) was randomly selected being representative for the full study. Those with diabetes already or lost to follow up were excluded, leaving 2,307 for analysis. In addition, 797 participants of the full cohort who went on to develop type 2 diabetes were included. Of these, an investigation of potential mediating factors was carried out for 2,662 participants (including 2,029 sub-cohort members and 698 diabetes cases).

The study found that the risk of future type 2 diabetes was lower by 41% for men and 33% for women for each 10cm larger height, when adjusted for age, potential lifestyle confounders, education and waist circumference.

The association of height with diabetes risk appeared to be stronger among normal-weight individuals, with an 86% lower risk per 10cm larger height in men, and 67% lower risk per 10cm larger height in women. In overweight/obese individuals, each 10cm larger height was associated with diabetes risk being 36% lower for men and 30% lower for women. The authors say: “This may indicate that a higher diabetes risk with larger waist circumference counteracts beneficial effects related to height, irrespective of whether larger waist circumference is due to growth or due to consuming too many calories.”

Larger leg length was associated with a lower risk of diabetes. A slight sex difference was noted – for men a larger sitting height at the cost of leg length related to increased risk, whilst amongst women both leg length and sitting height contributed to lower risk. The authors suggest that, among boys, growth before puberty, which relates more strongly to leg length, will have a more favourable impact on later diabetes risk than growth during puberty (assuming that truncal bones are the last to stop growing). For girls both growth periods seem to be important.

The authors also calculated to what extent the inverse associations of height and height components with type 2 diabetes risk are explainable by liver fat (measured as Fatty Liver index) and other cardiometabolic risk factors. When the results were adjusted for liver fat content, the men’s reduced risk of diabetes per 10cm larger height was 34% (compared with 40% in the overall results), and the women’s reduced risk was just 13% compared with 33% in the overall results.

Other biomarkers also affected the results: in men adjustment for glycated haemoglobin (a measure of blood sugar) and blood fats each reduced the risk difference by about 10%. In contrast, among women adjustment for adiponectin (a hormone involved in blood sugar control) (-30%) and C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) (-13%) reduced the associations of height with diabetes, in addition to the reductions observed by glycated haemoglobin and blood fats. Taken together, the authors say that a large proportion of the reduced risk attributable to increased height is related to taller people having lower liver fat and a ‘healthier’ cardiometabolic profile.

The authors say: “Our findings suggest that short people might present with higher cardiometabolic risk factor levels and have higher diabetes risk compared with tall people… These observations corroborate that height is a useful predictive marker for diabetes risk and suggest that monitoring of cardiometabolic risk factors may be more frequently indicated among shorter persons, independent of their body size and composition. Specifically, liver fat contributes to the higher risk among shorter individuals and, because height appears to be largely unmodifiable during adulthood, interventions to reduce liver fat may provide alternative approaches to reduce risk associated with shorter height.”

However they add: “Our study also suggests that early interventions to reduce height-related metabolic risk throughout life likely need to focus on determinants of growth in sensitive periods during pregnancy, early childhood, puberty and early adulthood, and should take potential sex-differences into account.”

They conclude: “We found an inverse association between height and risk of type 2 diabetes among men and women, which was largely related to leg length among men. Part of this inverse association may be driven by the associations of greater height with lower liver fat content and a more favourable profile of cardiometabolic risk factors, specifically blood fats, adiponectin and C-reactive protein.”

Source: Diabetologia

Could Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Still Help Some People?

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Debate over the benefits and drawbacks of daily low-dose aspirin has flared in recent years, with guidelines now generally urging against the regimen to prevent a first heart attack or stroke in healthy people.

But some people with good heart health still might benefit from taking daily low-dose aspirin, a new study from New Zealand argues.

About 2.5% of women and 12% of men would likely benefit from daily aspirin during a five-year period, based on an analysis of more than 245,000 heart-healthy New Zealand residents.

“In our study, we were able to predict for each individual, by taking into account their personal characteristics, their propensity to benefit from or be harmed by aspirin,” said lead researcher Vanessa Selak, an epidemiologist with the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

“Using this personalized approach enabled us to identify specific individuals who were likely to benefit from aspirin after weighing up aspirin’s effects on both cardiovascular events and serious bleeding,” Selak continued.

That would seem to contradict new guidelines issued earlier this year by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

The two groups concluded that for older adults with healthy hearts, the risk of bleeding that comes with aspirin therapy outweighs any heart benefit.

“We used to say aspirin generally yes, occasionally no. Now we say aspirin generally no, occasionally yes,” said Dr. Amit Khera, who served on the ACC/AHA committee that wrote the guidelines.

However, Khera feels this new study actually supports the new guidelines.

“This modeling exercise confirmed it’s a very small group of the population that potentially could be eligible for aspirin,” said Khera, a professor of cardiology with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

These guidelines are not for people who’ve had an emergency regarding their heart health. Those people do derive overall benefit from aspirin, he said.

“If you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, continue to take your aspirin,” Khera said.

But clinical trial data that emerged in 2018 showed that daily aspirin taken by people in good heart health only reduces their risk of heart attack and stroke by 11%, but increases their risk of dangerous bleeding by 43%, he added.

“I want to be clear that I’m not talking about nosebleeds,” Khera said. “I’m talking about needing a transfusion, being hospitalized, bleeding in the brain. Big stuff.”

To take a closer look at the potential benefits of aspirin, Selak and her colleagues studied hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders without heart disease who had their heart health risk calculated between 2012 and 2016.

The net effect of aspirin was calculated for each person by subtracting the number of heart emergencies the person was likely to have over five years from the number of major bleeds aspirin could cause.

After personalizing the risk-versus-benefit calculation, the researchers found that a select group of people would have a net benefit from aspirin if one heart health emergency that led to hospitalization or death was considered equal to one major bleed that led to hospitalization or death.

The percentages increased to 21% of women and 41% of men if a heart health emergency was considered equal to two major bleeds, the findings showed.

“This research suggests that decisions regarding the use of aspirin among people who have not already had a cardiovascular event should be made after undertaking a personalized prediction of cardiovascular benefits and bleeding harms from aspirin,” Selak said.

That’s already standard procedure under the U.S. guidelines, Khera said.

“No one is saying aspirin doesn’t help. It just doesn’t help as much as we used to think, and you have to appreciate the bleeding penalty,” Khera said. “Some people are more concerned about heart attack risk and are willing to pay the bleeding penalty, especially if they’ve never had any bleeding problems. It’s still OK for them to consider it.”

Both Selak and Khera recommended that people talk with their doctor about the risks and benefits before starting to take daily aspirin. Calculators are available that help physicians weigh your risk of heart attack and stroke against the risk of bleeding.

“In many ways, people think of aspirin as this benign thing because it’s been around for centuries. Anybody can get it over the counter,” Khera said. “But if you’re going to take it every day for the next couple of decades, there are definite penalties to it.”

The new study was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: HealthDay


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