Exactly why isn't known, but Henry speculated that women may take the negativity more to heart and ruminate about it more than men.
Henry can't say specifically how much risk of metabolic syndrome is attributed to the negativity. Earlier research has linked negativity in marriage with an increased risk of heart disease for both men and women.
She was expected to present her findings Thursday at the American Psychosomatic Society annual meeting, in Chicago.
Another researcher in the field called the findings interesting, especially the new focus on depression as a possible mechanism through which the strain influences the metabolic syndrome.
"The study raises the importance of increasing our understanding of how depression influences biological processes that result in metabolic syndrome -- and why these processes might be stronger for women than men," said Debra Umberson, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.
The findings, Umberson said, fit in with her research finding a strong effect of marital strain on partners' overall health. But the gender difference finding differs from her research. "Basically, we find that marital strain undermines the health of men and women," she said, adding that perhaps the men in Henry's study had their health influenced in a different way.
More research is needed, Henry said, to figure out how the pieces fit together.
Meanwhile, Umberson said: "Choose your partner carefully. A strained marriage is bad for your health." If it's already strained, she said, focus on reducing conflict.
To learn about improving a marriage, visit the American Psychological Association.'/>"/>
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