Being married is associated by the young with love, by the materialistic with better financial security and by the mature with family and grandchildren.
Personally I see marriage as driving in a car with a driver seat on one side, and a passenger seat with a second set of gas and brake pedals on the other side. So long as you agree on who is at the wheel and where and how fast you are going, having a back-up driver with a second set of pedals could not only help alleviate loneliness, but also save your life. Hence I was not surprised by the idea that married people, especially men, live longer.
“Here’s the proof: Last year, Harvard University researchers found that married people were significantly more likely than unwed folks to detect prostate, lung, colorectal, and other forms of cancer in their early stages and to get treatment for the disease. The study also showed that married people were much less likely than singles to die of cancer.
Similar results have been found for heart disease – the number-one killer of American men. Cardiologists at New York University’s Langone Medical Center analyzed data from more than 3.5 million people nationwide and learned that, independent of other cardiovascular risk factors, married people age 50 and younger had a 12 percent less chance of developing any type of vascular disease than their unwed counterparts. Another large study found that men with wives were 46 percent less likely to die of heart disease than single guys – also after taking into consideration diabetes, smoking, blood pressure, obesity, and other major risk factors.
Studies also show that married people are happier and experience less stress – both of which play a big role in maintaining whole-body health. “Stress and depression undermine psychological health, which spills over to physical health,” says Brown.
There are a couple of factors at play here. “Marriage is both a cause and a consequence of good health,” says Michael Pollard, a sociologist with the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. “Research shows that healthier people are more likely to get married in first place and less likely to divorce. However, while this is definitely part of the equation, most of these studies suggest that marriage also causes good health and improves overall well-being – especially for men.”
So why is marriage such a boon for men’s health? It turns out guys, more so than women, rely on their spouses for emotional support and companionship, which leads to improved mental health. “When a woman is down in the dumps, she might call a girlfriend, but a guy will rely on his wife much more than his friends,” Brown says.
Men also benefit from their wives keeping tabs on their physical health. “Women tend to be better than men about encouraging their spouses to maintain healthy behaviours like going to the doctor and eating healthy foods,” Pollard says. “They also discourage risky activities like smoking and heavy drinking.”*
Yet, before we go on praising traditional values, we must acknowledge that not all marriage contributes to better health. There is a reason why the husband is always the top suspect in cases where the wife has been murdered. It is safe to say that women who fall pray to abusive partners do not live longer. Nor are men who are used and belittled by their wives. It is also worth noting that while having a partner by your side when you are unwell sounds like a boon, an outsider cannot possibly tell if the said partner contributed to your stressed state and low level of immunity to begin with.
Hence while married people are likely to live longer, the partnership needs to be based on a certain level of competence, mutual respect and friendship.
*Read more: http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/exercise/does-marriage-helps-you-live-longer-20140610