A study published this month in Social Science Quarterly examined the marriages of people born over three decades, 1955-64, 1965-74, and 1975-84), and included people married for three different lengths of time (4 years, 5-9 years, and 10 years or longer). 12,373 adults participated. The question researchers were trying to answer; do people who marry become healthier than they were when they were single? The surprising answer was NO, they do not.
Conventional wisdom has always told us that marriage is good for our health—and that this is especially true for men. However the health of both men and women were examined, and no, marriage did not produce health benefits and longevity like we have always been told. Of course, my first thought was, Did they control for the variable of children? After all, kids put a lot of wear and tear on a couple and it is certainly possible that CHILDLESS couples have better health than those with children, especially multiples.
Let’s face it, marriage has big perks. Financial, emotional, and security benefits come with marriage. Not to mention how society has always viewed/treated the married VS single adult. Yet, even with these benefits, marriage does not make us healthier.
Singles do work harder as a group to stay in shape, exercise, connect with others for socialization and support—and we know those all bring big health benefits. Then there is the independence singles enjoy—they don’t have to negotiate all big decisions and factor in the needs of their spouse in the way that a married person does for the sake of the union. There is more flexibility, space, time for meditation and relaxation without the needs and noise of someone else intruding. Yet the large majority of singles seek partnerships and marriage. Hummm, wonder how unmarried partners would fare in this kind of study.
Let’s face it, there are pros and cons to marriage—and the biggest factor is who you marry and how healthy and happy your relationship is. Marriage is one of the most important decisions of a lifetime because it will have a huge impact on one’s future life/happiness/well-being or not. So marry well but continue to take care of your needs as well as those of your spouse. Great partnerships beat out a solo life for most people any day.