Want to Live a Long Time? Get Married

It's undoubtedly something you've heard before.  But people in happy marriages are healthier.

According to a story at medicalnewstoday.com, a study by Brigham Young University family life researcher Rick Miller found that "as the quality of marriage holds up over the years, physical health holds up too. "

No one can be surprised that marital conflict leads to poor health. "But this study also shows happy marriages have a preventative component that keeps you in good health over the years," Miller writes.

It's over the long run that's the news.

It doesn't take a genius to know that happily married spouses tend to "encourage one another to stay current on doctor's appointments, sleep better, drink less and participate in healthy activities," according to Miller.  But no one knew how this related to long-term health until now. 

The Huffington Post reported in May that a recent British survey found that being married is 20 times more important to a person's happiness than earnings, and 13 times more important than owning a home.

But, I beg to differ.  I know plenty of people who have never married who are perfectly happy -- and, some might say, lead far less complicated, stressful lives than those of us who have.  I was with my husband for 10 years before we married, and I can't really say I was unhappier during those years (except when I finally decided it was time to get married and he resisted).

The health bit, though, now that's something else.  I can certainly see how a marriage that, for the most part, is successful, would allow the participants to be more at peace than spouses in a bad marriage, where stress is usually present.   

Stress, of course, has been implicated in heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.  So the stress of a bad marriage can take a toll on health.   But getting back to single folks again, I'm not sure you can infer from this that if you're not married -- or don't plan to be -- you're doomed to sadness and bad health.

Not at all.  My single days were some of the happiest of my life.  I had a career I loved, I traveled, I made good money and yes, I was happy when I met my husband, but I had many other things going that gave me joy, too.   And yes, we've had our struggles and I've, a couple (maybe more) times wondered why I ever did this, and how easily I could get out of it.  These were among some of the most miserable times of my life.

And one of my lifelong friends has never married and boy, does he have a good life.  Lives in a luxury condo, takes trips all the time, eats out whenever he wants, and pretty much does whatever he feels like, whenever he feels like it.  How bad is that?  No one would call him unhappy.

Nobody has a happy marriage all the time but maybe the findings apply to people who are happy most of the time, or, as in our case,  have found a way to live with your differences (and stresses) without sinking the partnership.

It's true, I have commitment issues and was very uncomfortable in the first year of marriage.  (When I compared it to being single, I didn't really see the advantage.) But then we had our son, seven years in, and though that created its own problems, I began to realize that we really were a family and you know what?  It felt okay to be married.

In our 10th year of marriage I discovered I had breast cancer.  So I don't know what that does to the health part.  But here we are, approaching our 20th, and I'm still here, and healthy.  And, most of the time, I'm pretty happy.  So maybe it's right, what they say.  Get married, be happy, and, hopefully, you'll live a long life.

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