Do Married People Live Longer?

While ultimately the answer is “yes” – what are the contributing factors that lead to a longer life for married couples?

Marriage can provide many physical and mental benefits over a lifetime in the right circumstances. Simply getting married doesn’t instantly add an extra 15 or 20 years of life to one’s biological countdown timer. Saying “I do” doesn’t immediately reduce one’s risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, or other serious illnesses. And, wearing that shiny new ring doesn’t automatically mean you can eat more and not gain weight. So, knowing that marriage doesn’t really offer an immediate boost to your lifespan, what are the real reasons why those who are married tend to live longer, healthier lives? Read on and we will cover some of the basic factors that help married individuals enjoy longer lives:

  • Health care and advanced screenings: Those who live alone or aren’t in a serious relationship may be at a disadvantage when it comes to early detection of dangerous or debilitating diseases. A spouse may be more apt to mention that mole on your face or point out that it is time for an annual checkup, while those who live alone don’t enjoy this same level of healthcare micro-management. Studies have shown that married men and women tend to uncover cancers and other serious illnesses at an earlier stage than singles do. This early detection may help increase the odds of survival – advantage, married individuals.
  • Marrying an educated woman: Studies have shown that men who marry educated women tend to eat healthier and suffer from a lower rate of coronary artery disease. Part of this may be related to the fact that educated and higher income individuals tend to eat a healthier diet comprised less of fast food and processed meals and more of healthy, fresh foods. This adherence to a quality diet also correlates to disciplines in other areas – like exercise.
  • Have children: 94% of married women under age 44 currently have children. While this points to the fact that 6% of married women and men have chosen not to have kids (up from 4.5% in 1988), the real health benefit of having children is that is gives a person the purpose and satisfaction to raise and take care of another person.
  • Depression: According to a recent British study, married individuals tend to suffer less from depression and all of the other related health concerns that depressed individuals may encounter. While the idea of minimizing depression through marriage isn’t really the idea, married individuals tend to use each other as a support system. Sometimes, the spouse can help the other partner realize depressive behavior, act as a sounding board, or suggest professional help.

Though experts can point to research that indicates some negative health consequences of getting married, they don’t outweigh the benefits of marriage. For example, it has been shown that most married individuals gain weight after their wedding day, and many transition into the “obese” category. The percentage of individuals moving to this weight category is higher than as seen in single people. This may indicate that single folks are more concerned about how they look – with the ultimate goal being attracting a mate.

Married people have already “locked up” their mate and are less likely to watch their figure than single folks. While this has been studied and documented, there doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation between this increase in weight and a greater risk of early death. In fact, being in a healthy relationship has shown to add up to 17 years of life for an average person, while an unhealthy relationship can triple the risk of heart disease and coronary issues. The bottom line? Healthy marriages can help drive behaviors that may add years to your life. So, the next time your spouse mentions that you might have gained a few pounds, or that your mole looks a little scary these days – simply say “thank you.”

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