The Science of Marriage by Lori Oliwenstein

The Health Perks of Saying I Do

“Get hitched, and you’re in for more than love and companionship. Better health and a longer life are part of the deal—if you two are happy”

By Lori Oliwenstein

“Never mind the popular palaver about a good marriage as a source of bliss for the couple, security for the kids and stability for society. Plenty of spouses—at least after the first year—come to see it as a lot of work. And why shouldn’t they? Pair up any two people with often clashing needs; add kids, bills, career, housework and the fact that someone—he knows who he is—can’t pull himself away from the TV during college-basketball season; and there are bound to be problems. Marriage is criticized as a source of stress (and it is), conflict (that too) and endless crises that need to be resolved (guilty there as well). But it’s also something more. Decades of data collection have shown that marriage, for all its challenges, is like a health-insurance policy, especially if the union is a strong one. A 2006 paper that tracked mortality over an eight-year period found that people who never married were 58% likelier to die during that time than married folks were.”

“And no wonder. Marriage means no more drinking at singles’ bars until closing, no more eating uncooked ramen noodles out of the bag and calling it a meal. According to a 2004 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), married people are less likely to smoke or drink heavily than people who are single, divorced or widowed. These sorts of lifestyle choices are associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory diseases.