American Association for the Advancement of
Science’s journal *Science* (Vol 319, Issue 5863, 1 Feb 2008 ) includes a
short article: “Bottling up anger can shorten your life, an unusual long-
term study of married couples in Michigan concludes.”

Here’s the article:

The study covers 192 couples in the Tecumseh Community Health Study who
were between the ages of 30 and 69 in 1971. To classify the men and
women as anger “suppressors” or “expressers,” researchers asked each of
them to imagine getting chewed out by a police officer or spouse for
something he or she hadn’t done. Anger suppressors were those who failed
to protest unfair attacks or felt guilty later if they had gotten mad.

The researchers, led by psychologist Ernest Harburg, now a professor
emeritus at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann
Arbor, tracked mortality in the couples over 17 years, controlling for
age, smoking, weight, blood pressure, education, and heart and lung
problems. Among couples in which both members were anger suppressors,
the mortality rate was twice that of the other groups combined, the
researchers report in the January issue of the Journal of Family
Communication. Twenty-six of the couples (14% of the sample) were in
this category; there were 13 deaths, compared with 41 in the remaining
166 pairs.

Research on the “dyadic relationship” as a unit is rare, says Harburg,
who adds that two anger suppressors seem to have a synergistically
morbid effect on each other. Psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of Ohio
State University College of Medicine in Columbus says the data “add
weight to the growing evidence that poor emotional housecleaning has
health consequences in marriages.”

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