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New research shows that getting married could lengthen your life for up to 17 years. A study published in The American Journal Of Epidemiology reveals that single men have a 32 percent higher chance of death than married men across a lifetime. That means they could die eight to 17 years before the average married man — of loneliness?
Single women fare a bit better: They have a 23 percent (or about seven to 15 years) lower life expectancy compared to their married peers.
But why? And what about people who are in committed relationships but haven’t said “I do”? Or those who are happily single?
Why is marriage so healthy?
Here are three reasons why marriage may make for better health:
- Safer behavior. Risk-taking and substance abuse drop when couples marry — more than if they move in together.
- Socially connected. If you’re married, ideally that’s your closest relationship. That means there’s a partner and close source of support readily available. On the other hand, people who are unhappily alone may run the risk of social isolation. That can lead to depression and neglecting one’s health.
- Health helper. Your spouse could help you keep healthy habits. Your spouse is a large force of influence in your own behavior. You have someone to remind you that you shouldn’t eat that; that you should have one less drink.
People who are in happy marital relationships are also more likely to follow their doctors’ recommendations, research shows.
And long-term relationships…what about those?
Living with your significant other may also have health benefits. The general consensus is that, yes, cohabiting has positive effects, but not to the same degree as marriage.
Much of the research in this area has been done on heterosexual couples. But the experts interviewed for this story didn’t see why the benefits of having a partner shouldn’t extend to same-sex partnerships.
The love and support, and how this translates into us taking better care of ourselves when we have someone who is invested in our happiness, is immeasurable.
Just wearing a ring isn’t enough. A better marriage may mean better health.