A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology finds that men and women who live together in a committed relationship, regardless of marital status, are healthier than people who do not cohabit with a committed partner. The data was taken from the Family and Community Health Study that has been in operation since 1995 at the University of Georgia. The vast majority of the subjects of the survey were African Americans.
“There is a great body of research that says romantic relationship quality matters, though much of that research is on married couples,” said Dr. Ashley Barr, the lead author of the study, which was completed while she was a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Georgia. “We approached the question from a different angle, asking how romantic relationships, in their varied forms, matter for young people in the transition to adulthood.”
The relationship to better health and committed relationships did not hold for interracial couples. The authors hypothesize that part of this result can be explained by the phenomenon of micro-aggressions that interracial couples experience on a daily basis. Dr. Barr stated that “things like running into an old friend or even a stranger and that person being surprised by your romantic partner because they’re of a different race than you, or having the status of your children questioned because they are of a different race” are examples of incidents, which on the surface may not appear to be insults, but add up on a daily basis. These micro-aggressions are thought to affect health adversely by enhancing stress.
The study, “A Dyadic Analysis of Relationships and Health: Does Couple-Level Context Condition Partner Effects?” may be accessed here.