Most of us, if not all, know the pain of a broken heart very well. It’s safe to say that there is probably no living person who never suffered a disappointment, betrayal, or abandonment. Not necessarily from a romantic partner, but nonetheless, we mostly suffer that much precisely because of love. When your heart is broken by someone you love, you feel as if you’re going to die. Recent research reveals that this might not be just a mere metaphor. There is such a thing as a broken heart.
Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy or the Broken Heart Syndrome
There is a relatively new kind of a heart condition observed by the medical professionals, termed Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a condition that is caused by severe and usually sudden emotional stress.
Individuals who suffer from it have a weakened left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber of the heart. And, interestingly, it seems to be a women’s disease, although men aren’t resistant to it.
This form of a cardiomyopathy has a fairly good prognosis, although a heart failure does occur in approximately 20% of patients. The syndrome is characterized by frequent exhaustion, which leads to a lack of physical activity, and, consequently, further damage to the heart.
An acute attack of the Takotsubo is difficult to differentiate from a heart attack until additional tests are conducted. Most patients recover within two months. Nonetheless, recent findings indicate that there is also a danger of permanent damage to the organ. Therefore, the Takotsubo syndrome is by no means to be underestimated.
What makes this syndrome interesting is the fact that it is closely associated with severe emotional stress, with no usual coronary artery obstruction. Therefore, the heart seems to get suddenly “broken”. And it is not uncommon for patients to be admitted after they had experienced some sort of stress in marriage, a severe argument, a betrayal, an abandonment…
Why marital stress feels like your heart is going to break
Marriage is supposed to be your safe place, somewhere where you feel at home and shielded from the outside world. By marrying someone, you make a decision to commit yourself to that person for the remainder of your life, and you expect the same from your spouse. Whatever happens, marriage should be where you get your comfort and support.
Therefore, when you get into an argument that spirals out of control with your spouse, or you’ve been betrayed by someone you trust the most, it can feel like your heart is breaking.
No matter how realistic they might otherwise be, most people tend to see their marriages as something that is supposed to form a pillar of their lives. When this pillar gets shaky, their entire world feels the tremble.
Psychological practice reveals that one of the most devastating experiences one can have is marital stress. There are countless ways in which spouses can hurt each other, unfortunately. Addictions, affairs, and aggressions form the triad of the most devastating transgressions. And although chronic distress also plays a role in the development of cardiac diseases, the Takotsubo syndrome appears to be associated more with acute stress.
How to protect yourself from a heartbreak
It’s impossible to control everything that goes on in your life. You can however control your role in the events that come your way. Most importantly, you have the power over how you perceive the things that surround you. In other words, whether someone else, including your spouse, will hurt you isn’t in your hands, but how you react to it is.
There is never such a case when the spouse who is committing a transgression of any sort doesn’t believe that they shouldn’t bear the entire guilt. The victim, of course, isn’t to be blamed. Everyone can choose the right path at all times, but they sometimes end up choosing the wrong one. But, what becomes apparent here is the difference in perspective.
It is precisely this power of a human mind that you, as a victim of a transgression committed by your spouse, should use to your advantage. You can protect yourself from a broken heart by practicing a few simple yet effective techniques. The human mind has immense power to shape the reality, and you should use it.
So, the next time you get distressed by something your spouse does, try analyzing the exact trail of your reaction.
Approach it as if it were some other task that you need to solve. What happened before you got into a fight, for example? What did you do that you could do differently the next time? What came to your mind? What emotions did you feel? Did you consider how your spouse feels and why they react the way they do? How can you interpret the situation differently? Practice the change of perspective, and you will protect both your marriage and yourself from unnecessary pain.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.