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The health advantages of marriage

November 30, 2016

About the Author

photo of Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School. … See Full Bio
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December 8, 2016

The ideal marriage is of benefit. A marriage where the partners share views, beliefs, and support each other in times of happiness and sadness, in times of wealth and in poverty. Also where the partners trust each other and value their relationship. God created Adam and Eve for a good reason, to make each other happy. our choices in life make marriage hell on earth so much that some have come out of it never wanting to go back. some have died in the course of persisting in marriage. It is up to the partners to make their marriage a happy one and enjoy the benefits of being married.

Nisar Shah
December 7, 2016

marriage and health are synergistic in human life. it is true that marriage people are more healthy and stable mind than a single. It is my observation that early age marriages have good effect on humans in respect of long live, less diseased, and useful citizen in the society. this survey has emerge good results and i agree with the results. “HAPPY MARRIAGE” is good-health.

December 6, 2016

I read sometime ago that the benefits of marriage are mostly for men. For senior women, not having a husband seems to work better as long as they are financially secure .

Carol in Pennsylvania
December 6, 2016

Yes the happiest people in long marriages are those who progress together “in time.” Meaning …one spouse stays “put” in time……………their chronological brain is in 1980 and the other spouse moves on to present day.

Then to make matters worse one spouse retires and now the marriage eventually becomes confrontational over their differences. One spouse keeps up with technology, exercises, eats healthy, reads to educate self, the other keeps gaining weight, eats unhealthy, watches TV 10 hours a day, doesn’t help with housework, get the picture? That’s the spouse who drives the healthy one nuts.

I can guarantee you that this survey of long healthy marriages being happy is an absolute fantasy. Very few marriages fit this bill.

I know so many marriages that one spouse is deathly sick, and the other does nothing but caregiving. I know marriages that both are very sick, it’s Parkinson’s, heart, lung abnormalities, and cancer, with the added problems of glaucoma, obesity, etc.

So what does the healthy spouse do, he/she gets a job for at least 5 hours a day! It works because I did it!

if you have a significant other, analyze very carefully everything in your relationship, every tiny detail for many years before you tie the knot.

December 6, 2016

isn’t caring for each other part of the marriage deal? Just because one is no longer well, does it make marriage unhealthy? If everyone thinks only about themselves, the sick, the poor, the lonely will be hopeless. Life is not just about happiness, ir’s purpose is far above self-serving. Caring for each other is not only fulfilling but happiness at a higher level.

Caitriona Foley
December 6, 2016

I think the quality of the marriage is a key factor in the over all health of both individuals. Where open clear communication is taking place and there is a basis of dignity and respect then both partners have the opportunity to flourish grow and support eacj other in becoming better human beings. These skills are needed in every marriage and are not really taught. Assertiveness with out judgment. Listening with compassion. Managing ones emotions are all tools that are the building blocks of a good marriage. Every married person gets up in the morning doing the ir best but without these skills its very difficult. So I would love to see a study which involved the creation of a course which up skilled married people to communicate well through difficult times and then track their progress. We get lessons to drive a car why not some on how to treat and love our nearest and dearest.
Kind regards
Caitriona Foley

Milena Garcia Skollar
December 6, 2016

It’s called Screamfree Marriage by Hal Runkel. Not really about screaming at all, but about what you just spoke of. The best tool I have personally and as a family therapist.

December 10, 2016

Nice one there.

Enrique Burunat
December 6, 2016

This article supports that Love Is Not An Emotion but a phisiological motivation, as hunger, thirst, sleep or sex. That is the title of a paper just published in December in a psychological journal, Psychology. The teams of Dr. Helen Fisher, or Dr. Semir Zeki, and many others, have very interesting findings about causes and consequences of love in the brain and in the body. Thank you.

Shirley Colee
December 5, 2016

In terms of mental health, studies have long shown that the happiest group is married men, followed by single women, followed by married men, followed by single men who are the least happy.
Men benefit most by marriage.

Nisar Shah
December 7, 2016


Tahir Mahmood
December 5, 2016

A happy marriage life may definitely contribute / cast good signs on the health of partners otherwise a bad experience can devastate the whole situation making all the plus points into negative. Whole the depressions and ailments endangered ones life before time. To live a healthy life spouses must take care of each other.

Nisar Shah
December 7, 2016

very true

Asif Ekbal Arif
December 5, 2016

Happy life after marriage depends on some key determinants including the capability of livelihood support, fearless of sharing views, household patter whether someone is living a single household or joint, social and environmental surroundings where someone gets supports to face constrains, the mutual alliance between husband and wife to face both economic and environmental uncertainty in the household. Happy marital life provides divinity but at the same time it should bear in mind that unhappy marital life is hundred times worse than the
life before marriage.

December 5, 2016

This effect on health, I think, should more aptly be called “the caring wife-effect on health” – at least as the first and foremost hypothesis, as there is an overall tendency among women to be caring (of course theere are exceptions, but not so many that it shows in these statistics, it seems). From the evidence the article above gives, I can not at all conclude that there is a very strong “caring husband-effect on health”, but, indeed, there might be, if researchers would accurately differentiate between caring and non-caring/indifferent or even burdensome husbands. It seems to me researchers are surprisingly blind to which variables to keep checked in these cases – and that’s poor science, I’m sorry to say. But I thank you for a thought-provoking article! (And dear sisters troubled by difficult marriages, put an end to your unhappy marriages, through counseling or divorce, as cautiously as possible, because if you don’t thrive in marriage, it is not good for your health to stay married… get support first, though.)

John Roger
December 5, 2016

You’re possibly correct however the key words here are a happy and fulfilling marriage.
If one is often riddled with stress and tension then I do no see the health benefits.

December 5, 2016

Half of marriages end in divorce. It is financially devastating and I am being taken to the cleaners in spite of all the care and financial support for 34 years to my lying cheating stealing spouse. I can tell you that divorce is not healthy since it robs the security and well being of folks such as this cancer survivor.

Mary B
December 5, 2016

Sociologists have studied this for a long time; I’m surprised the article seems incurious about gender differences. Being married is good for heterosexual men because women pay attention to their spouses’ health and diet, and push them to get medical tests. Men in poor health may marry sooner and stay married longer because they tend to be dependent on their wives; I don’t know the more recent work on same-sex spouses. Some women also enjoy an advantage, in that they may feel more responsible than single childless women to their families for maintaining their health. Since it looks like the wheel needs to be reinvented on this issue, given same-sex marriages (and the tendency of previous studies to ignore long-term unmarried couples) I hope new studies are looking at the health benefits of single motherhood–though given the stress of combining work with single parenting they’re unlikely to be as high as the benefit straight men get from being married.

Bella DePaulo
December 5, 2016

There is SO much wrong with this. I am a Harvard PhD and have taught grad courses in research methods for decades. The methodological issues are egregious. Here’s my latest, most comprehensive critique:
Here’s more:
And here’s my shortest version, published in the Washington Post, Please stop perpetuating the myth that if only single people would get married, they would become healthier. It just isn’t true. The links I’ve posted will lead you to detailed critiques of many studies.

December 5, 2016

If getting marriage is good for my health,
would you give me or send me a husband?
I even do not have a partner, how can I get marriage?
I think many people in this would know the benefit from marriage and want to get marriage,
but we just can not get marriage.
Therefore this article does not help.
Thanks for sharing

December 6, 2016

It may not be of help to you; but millions around the world does find it very, very helpful.

That something doesn’t favour one person does not mean it is not good. Just find a way to fit in, or get something else.

December 5, 2016

Being married makes you fat and sad

Beth L.
December 6, 2016

Sometimes being single makes you fat and sad, too. Sooo. Now what?

December 5, 2016

I am married for like seven years now but have been suffering from loneliness and rejection but presently l have been over stretched by thinking and its affecting badly in such a way that am feeling pains in my heart and stomach with dizziness, and l Dont understand my health status anymore. Doctor can you please share more light on this.secondly l am just 34years of age and l Dont menstration anymore what could have caused it.

bedava okey oyna
December 2, 2016

he study shows an association between marriage and health. We then go on to speculate why being married may “cause” a person to have better health. I am curious.

Michael Lorton
December 1, 2016

The study shows an association between marriage and health. We then go on to speculate why being married may “cause” a person to have better health. I am curious. Has anyone considered the possibility that healthy people are more likely to be considered good mates, and that, in fact, good genes and good health “cause” marriage?

Jorge Avila
December 1, 2016

I think it’s possible… May be married people concerns about getting well very fast in order to reduce problems to his or her partner subconsciously, and they induce themselves into a placebo effect that improves their replenishment and recovery capabilities.

December 5, 2016

That is a good point !

Terry Goldman
December 1, 2016

None of the suggested theories would differ from simply being in an extended close family — sibllings, cousins, … Has anyone done a regression on singles who are physically far from relatives, vs. those with helpful relatives close by?

December 1, 2016

I wonder if the ‘marriage effect’ on heart attacks is primarily a matter of people who are married go in for treatment sooner when they experience symptoms because there is someone right there to say “no, this doesn’t seem to me like your normal aches and pains, you need to have it checked out.”

Terrence forest
December 1, 2016

live longer
have fewer strokes and heart attacks
have a lower chance of becoming depressed
be less likely to have advanced cancer at the time of diagnosis and more likely to survive cancer for a longer period of time
survive a major operation more often.
This list is diffently a good reason to get married. I’m getting married in April.

December 1, 2016

Are there differences based on gender?

Howard S. Friedman
December 5, 2016

Yes there are large gender differences in the health correlates of married versus single, and also after divorce and after widowhood.

Erica Badalassi
December 1, 2016

It’s absolutely very useful information. please share such helpful news .Thank you for sharing.

RP Rajarethinam
December 1, 2016

There is a parallel article written by Harvard Business School titled ‘Financial advantages of being single’.

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