From this article in Time Magazine:
Stress puts into motion a biological cascade involving hormones, glands and neural circuits, all activating one another in a complex feedback loop. When you are stuck in traffic or overwhelmed at work or worn down by the kids, the hypothalamus–a structure buried deep in the midbrain–tells your adrenal gland to pump out a supply of the stress hormone cortisol.
Got that? Okay, so:
Coan and his colleagues conducted an experiment in which married women underwent brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). During the scans, the women were told they were going to receive a painful electric shock. The researchers then watched to see how the subjects’ brains responded to the threat and found that among happily married women, hypothalamus activity declined sharply if husbands held their wives’ hands during the experiment.
… and they were less stressed out, knowing that however much the electric shock hurt, they’d at least get to share the pain with their husbands. This makes perfect sense to me, because marriage is a balanced stalemate between equal adversaries.
Song du jour of the day: Lovers Town Revisited, by Billy Bragg