Intimate Relationships Can Ease Pain

It’s well established that emotional and psychological well being plays an important role in overall health but the intimate relationship held specifically between partners has been found to impact health outcomes among women with the painful condition, rheumatoid arthritis. 

According to a 2008 study published in the American College of Rheumatology Journal, Arthritis Care & Research, mutuality between partners or spouses is linked with an improvement in women’s health including symptoms of depression, anxiety, physical disability and the impact patients reported about their arthritis. 

Mutuality, in psychological terms, is the close relationship between (usually) romantic partners that develops over time and which may affect cognition and behavior.   Intimate partners who engage in conversations in which each party feels heard and understood experience mutuality and these strong relationships have been demonstrated to relieve pain.  Researchers used blood tests to track RA disease activity and found that women in mutually beneficial relationships showed less inflammation than women without these close bonds. 

Feeling supported by family and friends is important but reciprocal sharing of feelings and ideas in close, usually intimate relationships, may actually help ease pain and is also linked with better mental health and longevity.   

It’s easy to forget how important face-to-face relationships are to overall health and well-being in a world obsessed by social media and on-demand digital entertainment.   If you are lucky enough to have a partner or spouse you live with or other close relationship, take time to put down the remote control or the smartphone and spend time talking and sharing thoughts and feelings with one another.  Mutuality will not only help keep the relationship strong, it could help relieve pain and keep you feeling younger, longer.