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10 Surprising Health Benefits of Marriage

While marriage can be good for you in a lot of ways — someone to share the financial burdens, a partner in taking out the trash, a standing Friday-night movie date on the couch — the effects on your health aren’t always positive, particularly when it comes to your waistline. You hear the anecdotal jokes about people getting married, and then when the pressure is off to find a partner or woo a partner to get hitched, the pounds creep on. But it turns out it’s actually true.

Reports suggest that married folks pack on the pounds when compared to their unmarried peers. One report suggests that newlyweds who are satisfied in their marriage gain weight in the early years after swapping vows. It may not be just a few pounds, either, as marriage actually increases obesity rates.

Researchers are always introducing fascinating new findings when it comes to marriage and its effects on health. Unhappy relationships, for instance, can be as bad for the heart as a smoking habit, and troubled marriages may leave people less healthy than if they’d never swapped vows. And the likelihood of weight gain can negate some of the positive health benefits of marriage. With all of the research out there, I went about finding some of the health benefits of that old ball-and-chain. One factor seemed to stand out over and over again: marital conflict can lead to poorer health, and happier marriages make for healthier people.

While I’m definitely a few pounds heavier than I was when I got married, I like to blame that on the two kids I’ve had in the last few years rather than my husband and the marriage. After all, I managed to maintain my weight in the five years we were married without kids, so I’m thinking I’ll end up back at that weight … eventually. But weight aside, studies supporting the benefits of marriage on health abound. Here are just a few ways marriage is good for your health — and just may save your life!

 

  • 10 Health Benefits of Marriage 1 of 11
    Mcollage

    Marriage can be a boon to your health in these 10 surprising ways!

  • You’re Less Likely To Die Prematurely 2 of 11
    Mrings

    Getting hitched might just make you last longer at the game of life. In one study, those who never married were more than twice as likely to die early than those who had been in a stable marriage throughout their adult life. Being single, or losing a partner without replacement, increased the risk of early death during middle age and reduced the likelihood that one would survive to be elderly.

     

    Photo credit: State Farm, Flickr

  • Bypass Success 3 of 11
    Mheart

    Those who are happily wedded who undergo coronary bypass surgery are more than three times as likely to be alive 15 years later as their unmarried counterparts, according to one study. The effect of marital satisfaction turned out to be as important as other risk factors like tobacco use, obesity, and high blood pressure. This effect is especially interesting for women, as unhappy marriages provide almost no survival bonus for women, but happy marriages increase the female survival rate almost fourfold.

     

    Photo credit: nattu, Flickr

  • You’re Less Likely To Develop A Chronic Condition 4 of 11
    Mcouple

    Married people are less likely to develop chronic conditions, compared to unmarried counterparts, studies show. One expert says that people who have happy marriages are more likely to rate their health as better as they age.

     

    Photo credit: gareth1953 the original, Flickr

  • You’ll Have A Better Shot At Kicking Cancer 5 of 11
    Mhands

    Should you be diagnosed with cancer, you might live longer than those who aren't married. Married patients tend to be diagnosed earlier and live longer after diagnosis, according to one study. The findings were consistent across various cancers. It appears that social support from the spouse drives improvement. Another study supports this finding, as married men and women with colon cancer were 14 percent less likely to die than other colon cancer patients.

     

    Photo credit: thurlbut, Flickr

  • Mental Health Boost 6 of 11
    Mmentalhealth

    Marriage can be good for your mental health! (Insert joke here about a spouse driving you crazy.) But really, literature suggests that being married or cohabiting is associated with a delay in a first episode of psychosis for those with schizophrenia, a higher quality of life and is a predictor of remission within a year of that episode. One study suggested that those who became widowed or divorced experienced a significant decline in mental health. Those who married during the study reported a decrease in symptoms of depression and alcohol abuse.

     

    Photo credit: iStockphoto

  • Lower Risk For Heart Attacks 7 of 11
    Mekg

    Love can be good for your heart! According to research, being hitched can reduce the risk of heart attacks for both men and women. It can reduce the risk of heart attack, and should one occur, marriage and cohabiting are associated with better prognosis following an acute coronary event.

     

    Photo credit: iStockphoto

  • Less Stroke Risk 8 of 11
    Mmaturecouple

    Marriage can cut down your risk of stroke — at least if you're a man. In one study, single men had a 64 percent higher risk of fatal stroke than married men. Interestingly, the 3.6 percent of men who were unhappily married also had a 64 percent higher risk of fatal stroke compared to those happily married.

     

    Photo credit: iStockphoto

  • Better Sleep 9 of 11
    Msleep

    Some research has found that women in happy marriages tend to sleep more soundly than those in wedded misery. While cause and effect aren't clear — does being unhappy cause poor sleep or does being grumpy and sleep-deprived lead to a bad marriage — stress can certainly get in the way of shut-eye, so it stands to reason that if your bed partner is the cause of stress, you might not be able to sleep as well. The study didn't say anything about snoring…

     

    Photo credit: iStockphoto

  • More Sex 10 of 11
    Msafe

    We might have the notion that swinging singles are out there getting busy nightly, but studies show that married people have more sex than singles. One 2010 study showed that an average of 61 percent of singles reported not having sex in the past year, compared with only 18 percent of married people.

     

    Photo credit: iStockphoto

  • Safer Sex 11 of 11
    Mmore

    Assuming both partners are staying monogamous, you're more likely to know your partner's sexual history, and therefore having safer sex than if you were hooking up with those you don't know so well. Being married keeps you from adding new partners, therefore keeping you safer from sexually transmitted diseases.

     

    Photo credit: iStockphoto

 

Also from Erin:

10 Ways to Stay Motivated When It’s Cold Out

7 Superfoods That Go in Almost Any Smoothie

Read more of Erin’s writing at Fit Bottomed Girls and Fit Bottomed Mamas.
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