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Happily Ever After: The Science Behind Why Tying the Knot Is Good for Your Health

Happily Ever After: The Science Behind Why Tying the Knot Is Good for Your Health

For a lot of people, marriage is a goal of adulthood. But aside from the obvious perks of tying the knot, a new study found that getting hitched can actually have a positive effect on your longterm health.

A team of researchers in the fields of nursing, social psychology and social health psychology have explored the connection between marriage and health, taking gender into account. They found benefits of marriage — like social support, reduced feelings of loneliness and increased opportunities for social engagement — can all lead to a longer and healthier life.

One theory that seeks to explain the connection is selfselection: wealthier and healthier men and women are more likely to enter into marriage. But it‘s not just that marriage also provides increased opportunities for socialization and closeness, which can reduce the risk of hypertension, heart disease and even death.

Gender appears to play a role when it comes to marriage and health, too. In one study examining marital quality, gender, and inflammation, lower levels of spousal support correlated with higher levels of inflammation in women, but not men. Similarly, another study found that when couples used negative communication patterns, such as one partner making demands while the other partner withdraws, women showed a heightened inflammation response, but not men.

But the benefits of marriage don‘t end there. Married men and women, on average, live two years longer than their unmarried counterparts, and it‘s not just because of selfselection. Married people tend to practice healthier behaviors, such as eating better and exercising more, and are less likely to smoke and drink excessively. And for men, one reason for this extra longevity benefit may be that female partners are often looking out for their husbands, reinforcing healthy behaviors and providing more opportunities for healthy choices.

However, it‘s important to note that not all marriages are created equal. Relationship quality and conflict are both important factors, and studies have shown women are more likely to base their identities on their relationships, meaning they experience more negative emotional and physical health effects than men when they experience marital conflict or other relationship issues.

Marriage not for you? Don’t worry — obviously, unmarried people can still enjoy good health and longevity. You just have to be more intentional about it. Creating and maintaining strong social ties, engaging with your community, making the best lifestyle choices, seeking preventive health care and reducing stress can all help anyone, no matter their relationship status, live a longer, healthier life.

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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