Research shows that marriage is good for your health.
Married people live longer, have better access to health care, enjoy a more satisfying sex life, experience less stress, live a healthier lifestyle, and have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and depression compared to their single counterparts.
Contemporary studies, for instance, have shown that married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer or have heart attacks. A group of Swedish researchers has found that being married at midlife is associated with a lower risk for dementia. A study of two dozen causes of death in the Netherlands found that in virtually every category, ranging from violent deaths like homicide and car accidents to certain forms of cancer, the unmarried were at far higher risk than the married. For many years, studies like these have influenced both politics and policy, fueling national marriage-promotion efforts, like the Healthy Marriage Initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From 2006 to 2010, the program received $150 million annually to spend on projects like “divorce reduction” efforts and often cited the health benefits of marrying and staying married.
Life span. Marriage offers the ultimate health benefit: a longer life. Compared to their unwed counterparts, married people have longer average life spans and are drastically less likely to die at an early age.
Disease. One reason marriage may prolong life is that it appears to lower a person’s risk of serious disease. Rates of diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, lung disease, and other chronic ailments are all lower in married people than in unmarried people.
Vices. The disproportionate heart benefits that men reap from marriage may be partly explained by the fact that bachelors tend to lead less healthy lifestyles than unmarried women, and are more apt to smoke, drink too much, and indulge in other vices.
Depression. Although people love to complain that their significant others are driving them crazy, companionship actually tends to be good for mental health—especially for women. This is particularly true when it comes to depression, which is roughly twice as common in women.
Marriage also appears to be a stabilizing force in women with bipolar disorder. Married bipolar women have fewer and milder depressive episodes than their never-married counterparts, but the same trend is not found in bipolar men.
Stress. Contrary to popular belief, men tend to get stressed out more easily than women. Lab experiments have shown that when given a stressful task, men exhibit greater spikes in the stress hormone cortisol than women. Fortunately for men, being married may curb their stress response. A 2010 experiment found that paired-off men had smaller spikes in cortisol levels than single men after taking part in a competitive game, whereas single and spoken-for ladies had comparable cortisol increases.
Conclusion? Keep your marriage healthy, it’ll keep you healthy.