Is Marriage Really Good for Your Health?

wedding ringsMarriage is good for you, according to numerous studies. I know for a fact that it’s good for providing love, happiness and companionship — but on my recent 27th wedding anniversary, I set out to discover just how good marriage actually is for my health.

The Correlation Between Marriage and Health

Lots of research suggests that married people live longer, enjoy a more satisfying sex life (despite the common cliches and complaints on the subject); experience less stress; live a healthier lifestyle and have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and depression than singles. A 2008 study by Swedish researchers found that marriage or having a partner cut the risk of developing dementia in half when compared to those who live alone. Another recent study done by Emory and Rutgers Universities found that married people who undergo heart surgery are more than three times as likely as single people to survive the next three months. It’s hard to measure the specific health impact of bringing your spouse chicken soup, listening to them complain and encouraging them to get well. Whatever the reasons, though, this study highlights the important role of spouses as caregivers during a health crises.

Another great bonus of having tied the knot: compared to singles, married people are less likely to smoke, drink heavily or use illegal drugs, according to studies compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Perhaps we marrieds are used to exhibiting a higher rate of self control, or maybe it just helps to have somebody keeping an eye on you.

The Exceptions

One area where marriage appears to actually harm health is the waistline, with both men and women gaining weight after they tie the knot, compared to their single counterparts. I guess we’re spending more time on the couch together watching movies instead of out at the local bar dancing, and what shows up on the scale doesn’t seem as important once we’re no longer on the market. So we’re happier, healthier… and heavier? I’ll still take it.

Of course, you have to take statistics with a grain of salt: there are plenty of healthy singles out there, and everyone’s individual situation is different. You also have to remember that we’re generally talking about happy marriages — a bad, stressful marriage isn’t healthy for anyone.

Dr. Linda Waite, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and author of “The Case for Marriage,” describes wedded bliss like this: “Marriage is sort of like a seat belt when it comes to improving your well being. We can put it in exactly the same category as eating a good diet, getting exercise and not smoking.”

Buckle Up

The bottom line appears to be that a good marriage really is good for your health. So here’s to happy marriages and long, healthy lives together. Put on those seatbelts and get ready for the adventure! Happy Anniversary, honey!

Do you agree that marriage is good for your health?  Let us know what you think in the comments.