While previous research suggests that marriage can have multiple health benefits, new US research suggests that gay and straight couples who are co-habiting may pick up each other's unhealthy habits as well.
In the study, researchers from the University of Cincinnati interviewed 122 people involved in long-term straight or gay relationships, or who are married.
The couples were asked a series of open-ended questions about smoking, drinking, food consumption, sleep patterns, exercise habits and other health habits.
Researchers found that bad habits were picked up in a relationship through the direct bad influence of one partner, through health habit synchronicity and through the notion of personal responsibility.
All couples identified the "bad influence" theme (in straight couples this was nearly always the man), where one person's bad habits influenced the other.
Gay and straight couples on the other hand "nearly exclusively described how the habits of both partners were simultaneously promoted due to unhealthy habit synchronicity," said Corinne Reczek, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of sociology.
"For these individuals, one partner may not engage in what they consider an unhealthy habit on their own, but when their desire for such a habit is matched by their partners, they partake in unhealthy habits."
Thirdly, respondents identified personal responsibility in identifying their partner's bad habit but allowing it to remain.
"While previous research focuses nearly exclusively on how intimate relationships particularly marriage are health-promoting, these findings extend this research to argue that intimate partners are cognizant of the ways in which they promote the unhealthy habits of one another,"
But it's not all bad news, married couples may have a few extra bad habits but they'll live longer. Another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology married people live about a decade longer than their single friends.
The researchers found the risk of death was 32 percent higher for single men compared to married men, while for women it increased by 23 percent.
Have your say: Have you picked up your partner's bad habits?