Marriage Provides Health Benefits – And Here’s Why – NDTV

Marriage Provides Health Benefits – And Here’s Why – NDTV

Marriage also provides partners with a sense of belonging, and reduced feelings of loneliness

The new year is traditionally a time when many people feel a renewed commitment to create healthy habits, such as exercising regularly, drinking more water or eating more healthfully.

It turns out that when it comes to health, married people have an edge, especially married men. But surely the act of walking down the aisle is not what provides this health advantage.

So what exactly is at play?

As a team, we study how relationships affect health. One of us is a nursing professor who studies how social support influences health behaviors. One is a social health psychologist who explores how stress affects couples’ relationships and health, and one is a social psychologist who researches how relationships influence health behavior changes. Together, we examine how partners influence each other’s health, taking gender into account in this equation.

Health benefits of marriage, for men and women

It’s important to note that most marriage and health studies have been limited to married men and women. But more recent studies are examining these relationships in partners who have the same gender identity, the same biological sex and who are gender diverse.

One theory that seeks to explain the link between marriage and health is the act of self-selection. Simply put, people who are wealthier and healthier than average are more likely not only to get married but also to find a partner who is wealthier and healthier than average. Men and women with poorer health and wealth than average are less likely to marry at all.

While this may be part of the story, marriage also provides partners with a sense of belonging, more opportunities for social engagement and reduced feelings of loneliness. This social integration, or the extent to which people participate in social relationships and activities, can greatly influence health – from reducing the risk of hypertension and heart disease to lowering one’s risk of death or suicide.

Another important connection between marriage and health involves the body’s inflammatory process. Research links loneliness and lack of close relationships with inflammation, or the body’s way of reacting to illness, injury or disease. Though inflammation is needed for healing, chronic inflammation is associated with heart disease, arthritis, cancers and autoimmune diseases. While single adults undoubtedly have very meaningful close relationships too, a healthy marriage by nature provides more opportunities for closeness and socialization, supporting the link between marriage and inflammation.

When you dig deeper, gender seems to play a role as well. One study related to marital quality, gender and inflammation found a connection between lower levels of spousal support and higher levels of inflammation for women, but not men. In another study, if couples used negative communication patterns, such as one partner making demands while the other partner withdraws, women but not men experienced heightened inflammation.

Marriage and longevity

Married men and married women live, on average, two years longer than their unmarried counterparts. One reason for this longevity benefit is the influence of marital partners on healthy behaviors. Study after study shows that married people eat better and are less likely to smoke and …….