We get married for many reasons: to share our triumphs, our failures, and our lives with someone else. We crave connection with others, and what better way to achieve that than through marriage and living happily ever?
As an added bonus, marriage may offer more than making us happier people — tying the knot can improve our health and our longevity.
Healthy Relationship: Key to a Longer Life
Can getting married actually help you live longer? Yes, according to Scott Haltzman, MD, clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and author of The Secrets of Happy Families: Eight Keys to Building a Lifetime of Connection and Contentment.
“Ninety percent of married women who were alive at age 45 make it to 65, vs. slightly more than 80 percent of divorced and never-married women,” says Dr. Haltzman. “Mortality rates are 50 percent higher for unmarried women.”
The results are even more remarkable in men. Men who were alive at 48 years old also had a 90 percent chance of reaching age 65 if they were married, but only a 60 to 70 percent chance if they were single — that’s a 250 percent higher mortality rate.
Healthy Relationship: Good Physical Health
According to research, being married can significantly improve your health. “The health benefits of marriage are so strong that a married man with heart disease can be expected to live, on average, 1,400 days [nearly four years] longer than an unmarried man with a healthy heart,” says Haltzman. “This longer life expectancy is even longer for a married man who has cancer or is 20 pounds overweight compared to his healthy but unmarried counterpart. The advantages for women are similar.”
Other highlights of the health benefits of tying the knot include:
- A married man who smokes more than a pack a day can expect to live as long as a divorced man who doesn’t smoke.
- Unmarried people spend twice as much time in hospitals as married people.
- Cancer cures are 8 to 17 percent more successful when a patient is married; research showed being married was comparable to being in an age category 10 years younger.
Healthy Relationship: Good Mental Health
As goes the body, so goes the mind. “Marital status was the most important factor for predicting depression,” says Haltzman. “Rates of major depression were nine times higher in unmarried men.” Depression, and in particular dysphoria — a feeling of anxiety, depression, and unease — were also higher in single women compared to married women.
Other statistics include:
- Divorce or marital separation more than doubles the risk of suicide in men.
- Tying the knot results in a decreased risk for substance abuse. Married men and women drink less alcohol and use less marijuana and cocaine than those who are not married.
- Divorced men are more likely to smoke, while married men are likely to quit.
- Seventy percent of chronic drinkers were divorced or separated, while only 15 percent were married.
There’s no doubt that marriage requires give and take and good communication, but ultimately the benefits of companionship can keep you healthier, both physically and mentally, than going it on your own.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Family Health Center.
Article prepared by Leon Dubois