There are many factors that have been identified as being instrumental to a happy marriage. These include fidelity, companionship, good and satisfactory sex life, gift sharing, mutual respect, openness, effective communication, care, love and trust.
But beyond these fundamental factors, one other factor that has been found to be just as important in having a better marriage is when couples engage in joint activities that make them sweat together. Simply put, couples who sweat together have better marriage.
Notably, one of the commonest human activities that couples could engage in and sweat is going to the gym or doing exercise, which is generally grouped into aerobic and anaerobic.
While the former includes running, jogging, walking, cycling, playing tennis, etc., the latter includes heavy weight training, jumping and going to the gym, among others.
On going to the gym together, for example, some psychologists from Yale School of Public Health in the United States have found that when a husband goes to the gym or does some other forms of exercise, such a man tends to be happy, feel relaxed and be in a better mood, which would rub off on his partner. They said the effect of this transferred happiness is more when the woman is sensitive to the husband’s feelings.
In the study, the researchers engaged over 1,200 married couples. They observed the frequency of their physical activities and monitored their risk of depression for 10 years; the duration of the study, to see the effect of exercise on the mental health impact of such activities.
Their findings, published in the Annals of Behavioural Medicine, showed that men who did exercise more regularly were happier, tend to be less susceptible to depression and then had a better relationship with their partners. And by implication, their wives were less likely to be prone to depression.
It was also gathered that even if the women do not engage in much exercise themselves, they won’t be susceptible to depression as long as their partner goes to the gym or does exercise regularly.
But this benefit is not vice versa, because it was found that men whose wives exercised would not see the same improvement in their mood.
According to their post on Mail Online, doing physical exercise prompts the release of endorphins, known as feel good and natural pain medication hormones, which when released make people feel better, minimise pain, increase pleasure and improve the mood, which would impact on their relationship (positively) with their partner.
These are in addition to the other benefits derivable from exercise, including protection from disability, stroke, back pain, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.
One of the researchers, Prof. Joan Monin, said, “Spouses’ behaviours and feelings tend to have an important influence on each other and the type of exercise is also crucial. If men are doing something positive for themselves, such as exercise, it can have a positive effect on wives too.”
A physiologist, Dr. Adona Obembe, also reeled out the benefits of doing exercise, but noted that people tend to feel better, relieved and more confident when they do exercise, which could rub off on their relationship with their partner.
She added, “Anybody who exercises feels better. They feel some relief and they are very confident of themselves. A man who exercises is more agile and some men who know how they feel when they exercise drag their wives along so they could derive same benefits.
“We also discover that exercise increases libido. The tendency of sexual intimacy is higher and when they do the exercise together, that may boost their intimacy. Also, if you do exercise every day, you discover that you are getting fit. You may not slim down, but you would feel that spirit of wellness, which could influence your relationship with others, like your spouse.”
Identifying some other benefits of exercise, Obembe said it increases heartbeat and reduces the tendency to have high blood pressure and diabetes as it helps to reduce the fat in the system.
She also stated that men and women derive the same benefits from exercise, even though women might not be able to stand some of the exercises that men go into.
Interestingly, apart from going to the gym, there are many other activities that could make couples sweat together, and these range from going to the garden together, jogging, regular sex, taking care of the poultry, washing clothes, farming, taking a walk and doing house chores together.
In fact, a previous study had shown that couples tend to be happier when they share house chores and take care of the kids together, and not only that, the marriage tends to last longer as a result of that.
In the study, carried out by Prof. Adam Galovan of the University of Missouri, United States, and reviewed on Mail Online, it found that the more wives perceived that their husbands were engaged in routine family work tasks, the better the relationships were for both partners.
It was equally gathered that since people naturally see house chores as being a woman’s job, wives tend to appreciate such men who choose to assist with the chores, and that one of the ways they did that was to do everything possible to make the men happy, as a form of compensation.
In the study, which involved 160 heterosexual couples, all of whom had been married for at least five years and had at least one child aged between zero and five, it was found that the more involved the men were in the chores, the better for the union. It was designed to measure how the division of house chores between couples affected husbands and wives relationship, even though the couples didn’t have to share the responsibilities equally.
He said, “Doing household chores and being engaged with the children seem to be important ways for husbands to connect with their wives, and that connection is related to better couple relationships.
“Sharing can mean something different to every couple. It could be taking turns changing nappies or one parent watching the children while the other prepares dinner. But doing things together and having mutual, agreed-upon divisions of labour benefitted both spouses.
“The more wives perceived that husbands were engaged in routine family work tasks, the better the relationships were for both partners. The bonds between fathers and their children also contributed to couples’ marital satisfaction, so when wives felt their husbands were close to their children, both spouses reported better marriages.”
In the study, published in the Journal of Family Issues, Galovan said doing things like dishes, which could be a stressful exercise, could increase bonding between couples. “These simple connections in daily life seem to enhance couples’ marital satisfaction and improve the quality of their relationships,” he added.
Speaking on the effect of doing things together on marital experience, a psychologist, Prof. Esther Akinsola, said it is not so much about the sweating, but the fact that they are doing things together, which she said would make them to be more familiar with each other.
She explained, “Doing things together helps couples to study and understand each other, and in the process, they will discover what annoys or goes well with each other. It makes them happier. Once they do things together, it makes for improved relationship, interaction, understanding and definitely, improves their marital experience.
“Furthermore, they discover their weaknesses and strength and that helps them to capitalise on their strengths and address their weaknesses. So, the act of doing things together definitely increases marital bonding. In fact, it is not peculiar to marriage, when mothers and children spend too much time together, it increases the bonding. So, it’s the togetherness that is the cause of the improved relationship and understanding.”