By Stephanie Stahl

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What happens when you’re not feeling the love on Valentine’s Day? Therapists say Thursday can be challenging for millions of couples who aren’t getting along.

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Valentine’s Day might not be so romantic if your marriage is stressing you out. Doctors say the quality of your relationship has a big impact on your health.

While it’s normal for couples to have ups-and-downs, when there’s constant tension, that is when the health risks increase.

But when relationships are strained, experts say it’s not just your emotions that suffer. Unrelenting marital stress can also impact physical health.

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“Headaches, stomach issues, you know, certainly the common things – muscle tension – but if that persists, you have unremitting stress, then it affects our immune functioning and then we’re more vulnerable to all kinds of potential physical problems,” said therapist Ted Raddell.

One recent study linked marital conflict and depression to poor digestive health. Another showed increased risk for heart disease.

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Doctors say it’s all part of the mind and body connection.

(Credit: CBS3)

Stress produces a “fight or flight” response, which is designed to help in emergencies but if it’s constantly activated, being in an unhappy relationship can be damaging and has even been linked to certain cancers and other health problems.

“The longer the time the distrust persists, over the course of months vs. weeks, is probably where you’re more likely to see some of those physical symptoms,” said Raddell.

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Couples are encouraged to get help sooner rather than later before their connection is permanently damaged, to get back to enjoying love in the City of Brotherly Love.

Doctors say it is not good to let things fester in a relationship. You have to talk and listen and show respect.

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Valentine’s Day might be a good time to make up and get things back on track.

Stephanie Stahl