What should I do in my unhealthy relationship

But there is also data to prove the opposite. According to a US study, a conflict-ridden marriage is just as harmful to health as smoking and drinking.

I like to believe that. We treat burn-out patients, most of whom first complain about their work. If you take a closer look, there is almost always an unhappy relationship behind this in which many things have remained unspoken. Often there is already an outside relationship. I then ask: Do you still love your partner? If so, something can still be cemented. However, if you've fallen in love, the more exciting question is: What is still keeping me in the marriage? This is where the psychosomatic connections can be found.

How is that expressed?

Among other things through depression, which arises from a burnout. What we also observe: Panic disorders and phobias that prevent the patient from "moving". The supposed physical inability has a concrete function: if the person could move, they would theoretically be able to leave their partner. It is absolutely unpleasant that you stay together for the sake of comfort. Sometimes you can't get out, we all know that. But many make their marriage miserable and whine, but fail to break up for decades. Then it is better to accept it for the moment than to complain all the time.

But don't wait too long: according to a study, stroke, high blood pressure and heart attack increase significantly in unhappy couples between the ages of 60 and 80.

In societies where senior divorce is particularly frowned upon, people who see no way out suffer more. I heard this from patients who live in Münsterland, for example, and that applies to evangelical regions in the USA as well as to regions in Germany that are dominated by Catholics. Above all, it is a generational phenomenon and is likely to change soon because women are more often employed and thus independent. In old age, it is also women who are better connected - and who separate more often. Men rarely make the jump.

Should you split up for health reasons?

One should always weigh up what is more harmful. But parting so that you may not get high blood pressure? I would think twice about that. If you want to do something in time, it is better to go to the couples therapist. If there is just a spark of love, I would try to save the relationship instead of throwing it away after 20 or 30 years. And when it comes out in the end that nothing works, you can still part. However, there are constellations where it is better to draw a line before they make you sick.

Which for example?

That could be a partnership with an alcoholic, for example. Or the classic "doctor's marriage", where the subject of unreliability is always the focus: always there for the patient, heroic and self-sacrificing - but never for the family.

After the breakup, the next problem awaits: A study from last year found that being single is just as harmful as obesity and smoking.

That is not right. Being single does not have negative effects per se. Those who stay alone out of conviction are less affected by single life than someone who lives alone because they cannot find a suitable partner. With such statistics, one always has to differentiate between being alone and loneliness. Apart from that, you can also be lonely in a partnership.

Can you at least argue? That also affects the substance in the long run.

Quarrel is important. Because taking up a position is the only way to develop the partnership. Only conflict in the sense of war is harmful. Old conflicts and accusations are destructive. You can definitely ask that your partner's underwear ends up where it belongs. But in an appreciative tone: "I love your creativity, but the chaos you leave behind is too much for me." Some things should be endured. Or learn to love each other's quirks.

What is true love to you?

The feeling: I don't want to live without the other. A partnership that gives my life a higher meaning. But telling your partner, "I can't live without you" - I wouldn't put that burden on them.