Facing discrimination of any kind — whether because of race, age, gender or other factors — is bad not for your health but it can also strain the relationship you are in, affecting the health of your partner or spouse as well in the process.
“We found that when an individual experiences discrimination, they report worse health and depression. However, that’s not the full story – this stress spills over and affects the health of their partner as well,” said William Chopik, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in the US.
A lot of the harmful effects of discrimination on health occurs because it is damaging to relationships, showed the findings published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
“When one partner experiences discrimination, they bring that stress home with them and it strains the relationship. So this stress not only negatively affects their own health, but their partner’s as well,” Chopik said.
For the study, the researchers analysed a sample of nearly 2,000 couples in the US ranging in age from 50 to 94.
The participants reported on incidents of discrimination, as well as on their health, depression and relationship strain and closeness.
It didn’t matter where the discrimination came from, Chopik said.
“What matters is that they felt that they were unfairly treated. That’s what had the biggest impact on the person’s health,” he added.
And that discrimination had a spillover affect on the person’s spouse or partner.
Because people are embedded in relationships, what happens in those relationships affects our health and well-being, Chopik said.