Relationship Stress Hurts More Than Your Heart

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How does relationship conflict hurt your body?  Your health?  Your mind?

Okay, we all know stress is a demon – but I saw an article in the newspaper with actual data for women.

It seems that women in “strained” marriages are more likely than other wives to have high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.

The research was done at the University of Utah – they studied more than 300 couples who had been married for more than 20 years.  They answered questions about their relationship and mental state and took tests.

They found that the women in high “strife” marriages were more likely to have depression (that one I could have guessed) – but also “metabolic syndrome.”

They listed things like a thick waist, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and abnormal blood sugar that showed up in these women – but here’s the kicker: Tim Smith of the University of Utah said:

“What we found is that negative aspects of the marriage – a high level of conflict and discord – were associated with increased levels of metabolic syndrome for women and not for men.”

In other words – men are just fine with a crappy marriage.

They guessed that the increase of “metabolic syndrome” was explained by the fact that women in “strained” marriages (as they put it) reported more levels of depression – which is – a known risk factor for heart disease.

They’re presenting this study currently at a meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society – a place where they at least consider the effects of emotions and mental states on the body  – but still, where your illness can be “all in your head” regardless of the actual physical symptoms.

This is something so many doctors unfortunately say about actual illnesses they just can’t diagnose or define – rather than say it might have been “caused” by your head, and therefore might be “uncaused” by your head, or “affected” by your head – they often say it’s “all in” your head and don’t even consider the possible actual physical components.

So – what does unhappiness in a relationship do to your body?  A lot.

So – sometimes the pain we feel is ours, just triggered by a person who happens to be a man just doing something he normally does without meaning to trigger us.

And sometimes the pain we feel is being triggered by that person on purpose – by US.

Sometimes we CHOOSE a person on purpose – BECAUSE he triggers us, BECAUSE he makes us feel bad.

So – blaming him isn’t really going to help us deal with why we’re THERE in that situation.

That means we have to figure out why so many of us women are in relationship situations that are bad-feeling enough to make us SICK!  And not just mentally upset and depressed and blue – we’re talking bodily illness sick.

There’s an old saying in the therapist community – about how we each have to choose to either be “sorry or sick.”

And that means – when you become willing to look at your OWN stuff – you unearth all kinds of things that make you feel “sorry.”  You’re sorry you did that, put yourself there, stuffed that down, forgot that, didn’t honor yourself there, are doing this, saying that, are in this place…

But the only other alternative to that – to constantly being aware of who you are and where you are and how you feel every time you feel triggered (because that’s telling you where you’ve BEEN, without having to dig all that past stuff up – just feeling it NOW is enough for the lesson to work) – is to stuff it all down, limit all awareness, keep a mask plastered over your face and your feelings and your soul – and be “sick.”

We women have lovely sensibilities.  We pick up things that men miss.  We’re wired differently, and thank goodness for that.

So – choose “sorry” over “sick.”  The “sorry” will pass, and you’ll make a clean, clear space for “happy” to enter and fill you up. And…don’t bother with beating yourself up.  “Sorry” isn’t about that.  “Sorry” is just taking responsibility for yourself and feeling moved by it all so you can keep moving.

The willingness to choose “sorry” will give you the ability to find your way through the maze of old habits and bright shiny objects and land at “happy.”

I’m not just talking about being in a marriage, or long term relationship – I’m talking about those 1 week and 2 month and 4 month and 6 month and 1 year relationships that are so easy to fall into when you’re not following the Rori Raye rules of Circular Dating.

I’m talking about that “stuck” feeling – where what you want and what you have and what you want to feel and what you actually feel are so different you feel pulled between sorry and sick and are afraid to choose.

So – Here’s to not ever getting trapped somewhere we don’t want to be because we’re choosing not to see What Is right in front of us, what is True for us, what might make us feel “sorry.”

I for one am EMBRACING “sorry,” so I can stare “sick” right in the face and laugh.  Join me.

Love, Rori


  1.  #1sandra on March 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    thankyou Rori, the sense of sorry is coming up a lot for me right now and over the past year. I find it’s a delicate line between the sorry which moves me into feeling joy and possibility in my life and love and respect for myself- sorry which also comes with forgiveness, and the feeling of beating myself up. I feel myself swing between these often, like a rollercoaster. But recognising the unforgiving self depreciating voice is getting easier each time and I am starting to even thank it for drawing my attention to where I am still feeling something I need to take notice of. Your post today is perfect, thankyou.

  2.  #2ann on March 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    i’m learning to embrace and accept all of me including sorry with the help of this blog.

  3.  #3Erin G. on March 23, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Oh…I love this! So wonderful to hear. I firmly agree that we attract the men in our lives to technically “make us feel bad” because its another test for us to FINALLY face our demons. At least it was in my case. I found some pretty severe and challenging abandonment and self esteem issues come bubbling to the surface as soon as I met my love.
    I feel better than I have in years right now…maybe in my whole life. And it is all because of the things that I became “sorry” for. The most wonderful thing is that (may not seem so at the moment) once you open up something and release it–truly release it…more items will come up. Its like everything is standing in line just waiting for you to love it and love you and let it all go.
    Fantastic….for me, I add a little Reiki to center everything and I just want to hug myself.
    Anyway, this blog just spoke to me because my body has been telling me for years about all the pent up resentment and fear. I could feel it everywhere.
    Love your insights Rori…I love being challenged to think! I feel so alive!
    Positive vibes to all!

  4.  #4Linmayu on March 23, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    I definitely feel the sorry more than the sick. I care too much for my body to let it get sick from emotion–instead I’d rather get angry and throw all that emotion at someone else.

    Problem is they always throw it back, harder. And they are never the ones to stop the cycle. I have to be the one to stop it, or we’d both end up dead–but being the one to back down makes me feel defeated and like a loser. If there’s one thing in the world I can’t stand it’s feeling like a loser.

    I had the opportunity today to get a psychic reading from a rather gifted man, who touched my hand for not even 2 seconds and then proceeded to tell me everything that was going on in my life, mind, and emotional state, and told me that the hurt and betrayal I’m experiencing is karma, has happened before, and will happen again and again unless I take THIS occurrence as an opportunity to completely let go and forgive. He made it sound so easy but what the hell have I been trying to do for the last 10 fucking months if not that? But I do like to hold on to hurt and anger and sadness. I don’t like to let anything go. Even when I want nothing more in life than to let the damn thing go already. I don’t know how the fuck to do it and I feel frustrated.

  5.  #5alias girl on March 23, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    i feel interested in this whole post and people’s comments though i feel triggered. the post triggered my anger.and reading linmayu’s comment triggered inspiration and also anger.

    i want to be love. i want to learn love in an easy step 1, 2, 3 way. like the chachacha. and one and two and wahla you are now a fully enlightened being full of unconditional love now go traipse the water tops.

    i feel soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo tired of being angry triggered woman who’s very masculine and demanding of Respect.

    argh. i feel over it. i feel over my whole way of life. no no. let me rephrase. i feel over my old way of dysfuntcional and toxic being. i love many aspects of my life.

    let it be known i am ready now to be my goddess self. does my goddess have an ego? how can one be human and not be driven by ego? i feel clueless. i suppose one would be driven by love. hmmm. that makes sense. compassion is the cure for narcissism and intentions of love are the cure for ego.

    there you go. problems solved. i have just saved the entire planet. you’re wlecome

    heeeheeehhheeee. says my ego.

  6.  #6alias girl on March 24, 2009 at 12:53 am

    so an online guy emailed me even though my profile was hidden and said hey sorry i haven’t called i’ve been busy with work and school. he said he’s going to try and call soon. i told him i felt suprised he was still interested since i give men online such a hard time. but i said yeah ok call when you can. i feel encouraged. i also put my profile back online.

    i keep thinking about my #1 ex. (there’s a #!, a#2 and a #3). i want them all to pursue me and to date them all but i want to end up with a good version of #1. heheh. that sort of sounds like trouble huh? a good version of #1. oh well that’s what i think in this moment.

    my ex from waaaaaayy back wrote a book and sent it to me and i’m reading it. it’s weird. life is weird. this is the guy who used to purposefully push my buttons and i broke up with him after about a month or two weeks or whatever but we had made some sort of connection and have stayed in touch over the years. it feels like relief to read his book and have all the things and intuitions i had about him validated. not in a bad way just a truthful way. he has also gone on a spiritual journey except he’s traveled all over the world to various healers and ashrams to do it while i decided to do mine in a corporate cubicle.

    i just feel very positive and hopeful and like maybe life Does make sense.

    i really miss my ex. the one i felt so relieved of having an easy out with. the unavailable one. is ok.

    i feel unelightened admitting my truth.

  7.  #7Maria on March 24, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Makes sense, Rori. Marriage can be either happiness, if u choose the right man, but it can harm you big time, if you are married with wrong man. Worrying about does he love me etc.
    l know that compared to all the comments in this blog, lm very short in what l say, but l usually say the right things.

  8.  #8searchingwithin on March 24, 2009 at 5:02 am

    As stated already, with sorry also comes forgiveness, which is the most important part, I believe. We work, or at least I hope we do, at forgiving others, it’s so important for ourselves, but we never stop to realize that we need to forgive ourselves, which is so much harder.

    Best Wishes.

  9.  #9Daria on March 24, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Alias girl… dangit… we are so alike in some ways. I too have ex #1, ex # 2, and ex # 3. I too want a good version of ex #1. I was imagining ex #1 coming to me and wanting to get married and start a family. And I almost said ok but then stopped. Wait. Can you really be faithful? Starting now? From what I know of you in the past, I can’t really trust that 100%. So I can’t marry you even though I want to “get it started already”. I want to be with you forever but I can’t have you fuck up sometime and me have to leave you. Cuz that would suck. Probably more than not having you right now… do I know that? no… I DON’T want a husband that I have to worry about cheating on me. I DON’T want a husband that cheats on me. That sounds like divaish … how weird… it sounds to me like I’m asking for too much to not have a husband that cheats on me? ha. Ok. I DON’t WANT to tolerate cheating. HA. That feels more empowering. I don’t want to tolerate feeling unsure about faithfulness either. Good.

    Ex #2 and #3 are pursuing me in their own ways. #3 in particular has been making progress. I also have been making progress communicating with him while sticking to the 4 rules. This is one of my few exes that I’ve actually lost my temper on, screamed epithets to the top of my lungs to… Now I am communicating well, as I am not triggered as much by his seemingly insensitive nonchalant behavior. I am being clear I want to be a priority.

    #2 calls me every now and then but has not followed through with the plans he himself pressured me to agree with. He has however complied with what I have asked him to do in order to see me. I am getting my courage to tell him I want a large sum of money back from him. This ex I used to feel terrified of and would go quiet with anger almost everytime. I now still feel a little scared, but more and more relaxed. He maintains on his own he will continue trying to see me…

    #1 has not initiated. I initiated contact due to a pressing issue. He responded and issue was discussed and I was assured it would be cleared. At the end he wanted to make sure I didn’t think he hang up on me and called back. I had actually hung up. Said he’d call back and didn’t.

  10.  #10jat on March 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I do not know how to stop getting attached to one guy while I circular date. The rest of the men in my dating pool repluse me, but the one I’m having sex with I really like and I’m getting very attached to him. I’m certain my vibe has shifted and I don’t know what to do about it. I try to direct my attention to the others but am not attracted to them at all. I don’t want to open up to them, one of them scares me because his energy is so intense, very Scorpio. The other makes me laugh but don’t feel any attraction for him at all.

    This same thing happened a few months ago with a different guy and when my vibe shifted he ran. I feel the same thing happening here with this new guy. I feel so sad it makes me want to cry. I’m feel afraid and angry that I’ll just keep driving them away and I don’t know what to do about it.

    It’s probably the sex… makes me feel more attached than I should.

  11.  #11Daria on March 24, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    OMG jat I feel so interested in what you’re going through. I totally feel “buzzy” right now because I have seen that happen to me too. I also really liked how you said one guy was very intense and scared you and another guy made you laugh but you didn’t feel attraction. I can really relate with that too.

    I have not been having sex with the guys I’m dating but I too worry that if I do I will get the same attached feeling and it will shift my vibe.

    Keep practicing the tools leaning back, and be authentic communicating with feeling messages. And really really love yourself… and tell yourself that all the time…


  12.  #12alias girl on March 24, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    also rori said we can always back away from sex and undo that if it starts to feel bad. i love you guys! xoxo

  13.  #13jat on March 24, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks Daria for the support!

    I have an update:

    I decided to share how I was feeling with this guy. I was worried that I would get his power speech – signaling the end. I was very careful to talk in feeling messages and refrained from using the word, “You..”

    There was no power speech from him! He was very supportive and said that we could slow down if things were moving too quickly, that we didn’t have to continue having sex, that he understood that women respond differently to sex, that he was totally ok with EVERYTHING I shared, he thanked me for sharing everything I did and being so open and honest with him, and he said that communication is so important to him! WOW! We talked on the phone for another hour after all that!

    I feel so relieved!

  14.  #14jat on March 24, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    … and thanks to you too alias girl!

  15.  #15Daria on March 24, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Yay JAt!! Awesome… that’s what usually happens to me too when I can be honest… the guy totally understands…

    I got flowers on a first date today!!! yipeee!!!!

  16.  #16jat on March 24, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    oooo flowers, I bet they smell wonderful!

  17.  #17alias girl on March 24, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    oohhoooohhhhooooohhh flowers!!!! yae daria! i love.

  18.  #18Linmayu on March 24, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Oh, yay Jat and yay Daria! And Searchingwithin, thank you for your comment. It got me thinking about forgiving MYSELF for all the bad I’ve been through in life. Forgiving others is pretty much second nature to me; I’ve never really had any choice but to do so for most of my life. But forgiving myself…that’s something I’ve never really bothered to do, nor thought that I even could, or should, or was worthy or whatever.

    Come to think of it, I haven’t so much been *forgiving* others, as believing that I had to condone, allow and absolve anything and everything that anyone decided to do to me–and beat myself up forever for anything I ever did that hurt anyone else, even if I didn’t mean to. Forgiving feels much better. It feels like having strong, clear boundaries.

  19.  #19Tracy on March 25, 2009 at 1:44 am

    i totaly agree with this post….
    i havent forgiven myself for so many things i’ve done…it feels cormfortable to just lay back and say its okay…everything is going to be okay….i forgive me…
    it feels relieving…
    I feel i should plunge back to circular dating…listening at level 2…i have been back tracking on that lately…being a goddess and receiving all the love from the universe…feels refreshing just imagining that…



  20.  #20Daria on March 25, 2009 at 3:07 am

    I am feeling very upset that I incurred bank fees that are going to eat my earnings for these two weeks. I keep wanting to beat myself about it and my body tenses up differnt places, right shoulder, left buttcheek lol… I love my tension… I am afraid to tell my parents although it seems I need to borrow money. I wanted to start paying my onw bills again this month and instead I have to ask for more… I feel weird and liften out my body… I love this feeling and that feels like still being somewhere kinda hovering halff off the chair… I feel weird and that feels like tingles traveling down my bakc and I love my tingles and that feels like tightening in my sinuses, in my tummy, and I love the tightening in my sinuses and tummy and that feels like shoulder tightness and I love my right shoulder tightness and that feels like left shoulder tightness and I love my left shoulder tightness and that feels like yawning and I love my yawn and that feels like left shoulder tightening and I love my left shoulder tightening and that feels like itchiness on my nose and I love the itchiness on my nose and that feels like pressure in my chest and above my hips and I love my chest and top of hips…

    Feel sleepy now… sleeping would feel good… especially with not brushing my teeth… for some reason… because it feels cold to brush my teeth… I feel weird… I love myself… I love myself… I want to be able to not brush my teeth and I want my cookies if they’re still around right now…

  21.  #21alias girl on March 25, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    guess who’s Targeting Mr. Right arrived today?


    i feel triggered. hehe. but i am committed to doing this even though i feel Resistance.

    I will DO This. I WILL COMMIT to doing this. I am committed.

    And guess what, things will change and i will get what i want.

    baby-step by baby-step.


  22.  #22AT on April 5, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you Rori. I did get out recently from a one year relationship to where there were so many red flags that I had ignored them and tolerated them to where I had not in the past. The result, I believed every word that he said even that he was sorry. I accepted more from this man that no even my exhusband would have done to me. I dealt with verbal abuse from him to where it belittled me but that he would say that I would never leave him and vise versa and we were made for each other. He decided to apply for a transfer and where did that leave me….right here and the day he left he cut the communication and 6 weeks later he still plays with my mind from a distance even though he has moved in with another female (immediately) stating that there is nothing going on (….how typical) and that my thoughts are pathetic and that is why we are where we are today with no relationship.

    Thank you for the blog Rori….I mean that from my heart for so many reason.


  23.  #23Rori Raye on April 6, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    AT, Welcome, and I am so sorry you are feeling so low.

    I know you can help yourself. Being aware of what’s going on is the first step – and you’re dong this. Not beating yourself up is the next step, and then building your self-esteem through Circular Dating and learning to fall into your feelings and then express them.

    This will build a sense of fearlessness in you – you’ll just automatically start feeling better. I look forrward to helping you here…Love, Rori

  24.  #24patsy on February 2, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Oh this is so true!! Since my ex left 2months ago after 18 yrs. My health has done a complete turn around. No insulin shots, no anti-depressants no 18 pills a day. lost 35 lbs. I think that is telling me something.