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Happy Marriages Are the Key to Better Health!

Are married couples healthier and happier than their unmarried counterparts?  A new study from the University of Missouri says, Yes!  As they get older, couples who consider themselves to have happy marriages are more likely to describe themselves as experiencing good health.

This study examined information gathered from 707 married adults who contributed to the Marital Instability Over the Life Course panel study.  Information was gathered from 1980-2000 for this research project.  Most of the couples who contributed to the project earned more than $55,000 per year, had completed education beyond high school, and were Caucasian.  

The University of Missouri study found that the health of each spouse is affected, for good or bad, by the quality of their marriage.  As part of a holistic approach to good health, couples should work on improving their marriages.  This is especially true for couples who are experiencing physical problems, chronic illness, or disease.  

Christine Prolux, assistant professor in the University of Missouri Department of Human Development and Family Studies, analyzed the information for this study.  The data gathered was based on each couple’s self-evaluation of the quality of their marriage and physical health.  

According to Prolux, “We often think about the aging process as something we can treat medically with a pill or more exercise, but working on your marriage also might benefit your health as you age.  Engaging with your spouse is not going to cure cancer, but building stronger relationships can improve both people’s spirits and well-being and lower their stress...Physicians should recognize that the strength of patients’ marriages might affect their health.  I suspect we’d have higher rates of adherence to treatment plans for chronic illnesses if medical professionals placed more of an emphasis on incorporating families and spouses in patients’ care.  If spouses understand their partners disease and how to treat it at home, and the couple has a strong marriage, both people’s health could improve.”

A recent review of major studies conducted in seven European countries also pointed out the positive impact marriage can have on both physical and mental health.  These studies demonstrated that married couples enjoy a healthier diet, live longer, and reduce the risk of premature death by 15 percent.  

John Gallacher of Cardiff University examined the results of these European studies and found that the greater the commitment between married couples, the greater benefit to their mental and physical health.  According to Gallacher, “In terms of physical health, men benefit more from being in a relationship than women, but in terms of mental health women benefit more than men.”  

The stability provided by a committed marital relationship serves as the basis for better overall health and well-being.  Gallacher also noted that the longer a happy marriage continues, the greater positive impact it has on the mental health of the couple.

A recent World Health Organization study demonstrated that married couples are at a much lower risk of developing anxiety or depression that than those who are single.

Australian Women’s Health points out that studies from around the world have demonstrated that happily married couples tend to:

-Have lowered risk of heart attack

-Exercise regularly

-Have stronger immune systems

-Experience more restful sleep

-Have lower stress levels

-Be less likely to smoke



SOURCES:;;;  Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee /



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