Health Benefits Of Marriage
According to research, being married can just save your life, but that might be an overstatement.
20:10 10 May 2020
There is interesting research that married people enjoy better health than single people. When compared to those who are single, those who are married tend to:
- Live Longer
- Survive a major operation more often
- Have lower strokes and heart attacks
- Have a fewer chance of becoming depressed
- More likely to survive cancer for a more extended period and be less likely to have advanced cancer at the time of diagnosis
This doesn't mean you automatically provide these health benefits because of you are married. A single person who is surrounded by supportive and caring family, friends and loved ones may be better than people in stressful and unhappy marriages. Most of these health benefits are more noticeable for married men than for married women.
A newly identified "marriage benefit" for the heart?
In England, a recent study reveals that out of 25,000 people who were having a heart attack, 14% were married and more likely to survive than single people having a heart attack, they were also able to leave the hospital two days sooner.
This study results should be considered preliminary as it's presented at a medical conference but it does raise some questions. For instance, the health of the single people with heart attack worse and more severe than those who were married.
This study headline might have single people feeling more pressured than before to find a marriage partner. I think that would be unfortunate for this type of study as it only concludes that there is a link or association between marriage and better health outcomes after a heart attack, but it cannot prove precisely that marriage is the reason for that benefit.
How does this work?
It's merit asking why such a connection might exist given the growing body evidence linking marriage with better health. Some researchers have explored this question and here are some of the more prominent theories.
It's all about the immune function:Research has revealed that people in happy relationships have powerful immune function than those who are not in a happy relationship. Higher amounts of cortisol tend to release in single people when compared married people. That may be vital because high cortisol levels can weaken immune function and cortisol levels tend to reflect levels of stress.
Your behaviour changes with marriage:Married people eat better, maintain healthier lifestyles and take fewer risks when compared with single people. There is also evidence that married people follow doctors' recommendations more often and tend to keep regular doctors' appointments than single people.
Mental health is better when you're married:Higher rates of loneliness, depression, and social isolation has been linked with poor social support, which has in turn been linked to poorer health outcomes.
Married people have good health before getting married:It's right to wonder whether people who are prone to unhealthy habits or who have medical problems are less likely to get married; that could account for the marriage health benefit as it leaves healthier people getting married. Some research found that unhealthy men try to marry at a young age and divorce less than healthy men.
The theories prove that any of this evidence does not support health benefit to marriage. So, the precise reason is not known if there is a health benefit to marriage but researchers continue to study the question.
Having a better understanding of the health effects of social supports will be beneficial in future. So, if marriage is truly a predictor of better health, can this knowledge be used to improve health? For example, is there some way that a single person with a heart attack can be treated differently to improve the outcome?