The Health Benefits of Marriage

Discover how a good marriage can help you live a longer, happier, healthier life.

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| January 25th, 2012

You’ll live longer.

Watch out George Clooney. Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows that never married men have the highest risk of death in the U.S., compared to married couples.

One of the reasons why pairing up may boost your longevity is because you have another person around to pinpoint both physical and mental health problems and push you to do something about them. Spouses tend to notice changes in behavior and appearance that can signal a health red flag more quickly than you can, according to Markman. “If you have a mole on your back, your spouse may notice it before you do,” he says. “Having that outside perspective on your life can be a real benefit for health. It means you have someone else who knows when things are getting stressful for you and helps you express those stressors in a safe environment and helps you deal with them.”

You’re less depressed.

Being married—not just cohabitating—boosts your psychological wellbeing, according to a study in the Journal of Family Issues. What’s more, research shows that marriage actually helps reduce depressive symptoms, while getting divorced increases them.

Part of the reason marriage may help ease depressive symptoms is because of the social support a good partnership can provide. “You have someone who can listen to you and be supportive so you’ll see lower depression rates and less severe symptoms in those going through depression,” says Markman. “A married couple can also shoulder different responsibilities when a partner is sick, which helps remove some of the stress.”

Adds Benjamin Karney, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at UCLA: “Loneliness is strongly associated with depression. Being with somebody reduces the isolation that causes depression.” That said, marriage alone doesn’t stop depression in its tracks. A bad, stressful relationship that doesn’t provide social support can contribute to depressive symptoms, according to Karney. “It has to be a good relationship because a bad relationship can kill you—and that’s no joke.”

QUIZ: How Do You Act in Relationships?

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