Happiness, health and marriage
Eric Schneider | My Soul
It’s standard shtick for comedians to complain about their marriages, detailing the inevitable arguments, compromises and other unpleasant situations involved in the time-honored institution. Research, however, largely tells a different tale — in many ways, marriage is good for you.
Less Sickness, Greater Health
“In sickness and in health” — that’s the venerable phrase from countless wedding ceremonies. Well, it appears that being married may discourage the former and boost the latter. In 2013, a Danish study found that married people are less likely to be hospitalized with pneumonia than their unmarried counterparts, including those who are divorced or widowed. Intriguingly, a Harvard-affiliated study published the same year reported that married individuals diagnosed with cancer tend to live longer than those who are unwed. A more recent study even suggests that matrimony promotes healthy bones, specifically bone mineral density, which is important during aging.
Somebody to Lean On
So why is marriage generally associated with better health? Researchers haven’t come to a definite consensus, but the conventional wisdom is rather straightforward — spouses support each other. While this support can be literal in the case of physical issues, it is often conveyed as emotional reinforcement. When someone is reliably there for their husband or wife, that level of understanding and companionship can be invaluable. Not surprisingly, this concept has also proven to be yet another effective argument for same-sex marriage.
Happiness Is a Warm Marriage
The correlation isn’t always as simple as being wed, though. In the bone health study, researchers found that women only benefitted if they were in a content marriage. Similarly, recent research conducted at the University of Utah revealed a strong link between heart disease and satisfaction in matrimony. Those who reported feeling consistently happy in their spousal relationship had the lowest cardiovascular risk factors. This was not the case in those that felt less support from their spouse.
Let’s Get Old and Fat Together
Unfortunately, even comfortable married couples aren’t free from health concerns. A 2008 study indicated that wedded bliss increases the chances of obesity for both husbands and wives, though more so with men. While this makes sense on a certain level — “Hey, we’ve got each other, so who do we have to impress?” — it also points to how marriage can lead to unintentional complacency.
The solution? Don’t get complacent. For those who choose to get married, keep gently motivating each other, especially by remaining active, and the two of you may have many more anniversaries on the horizon.