Married couples tend to become physiological twins as the wedding anniversaries accumulate: blood pressure, weight, drinking and smoking habits, general health, heart condition, even the chemical composition of their blood (cholesterol level and enzyme activity) very often match. Such similarities are likely to become most pronounced at or about the fifteenth year of marriage.
We were particularly intrigued by our discovery that the long married become psychological twins as well. Men with many emotional problems live with women who report a correspondingly large number, usually of a similar type; men with few emotional complaints are wedded to women whose list is equally short.
Delving further, we found this to be no simple case of ‘like seeking like.” The common supposition that men with mental problems invariably seek out their emotionally unstable counterparts happens to be untrue. Our evidence shows that emotional patterns between men and women are not similar during the early years of marriage, but tend to become more and more so with the passage of time.
Since we knew our married couples did not share ancestry, were subjected to vastly different childhood traumas, yet became more and more alike over the years, we searched their life styles for determining factors. Those who had been married fifteen years or longer have slept some 5,000 nights or more in the same room, eaten perhaps 16,000 meals together, and may have shared an equal number of between meal snacks.
Could we find significant differences between the foods regularly eaten by those couples with few emotional problems and those with many? We set out to uncover both the “resistance” factors and the “susceptibility” factors in the diets of those who shrugged off stress and in the diets of those who were more vulner able to stress. Resistance factors discourage disease (vitamin C, for example, discourages scurvy and is a resistance factor); susceptibility factors invite disease (sugar, which encourages dental cavities, is a susceptibility factor).
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