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Marriage - it really is good for you!

The health benefits of marriage and ten tips to keep it working
WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Want a longer and happier life? Then get married! It may be an outdated institution to some but it seems to have incredible health benefits.

We all know the divorce rates are high, but 90% of young people still want to tie the knot. In fact two out of every three first marriages will last until one partner dies, and one in two second marriages will also last a lifetime.

Organiser of the annual “ Marriage Week UK”, Dave Percival says, “Wake up and realise how special and important your relationship is and cherish it.”

It’s good for your health

Married couples live longer and are happier and healthier according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The findings are the most solid evidence yet that, despite changing social attitudes and an end to the stigma of divorce and single- parenting, marriage is still good for you.

“There’s no evidence that the intense, passionate stage of a new romance is beneficial to health,” says Dr Harry Reis, co-editor of the Encyclopaedia of Human Relationships. "People who fall in love say it feels wonderful and agonising at the same time, but all those ups and downs can be a source of stress.”

It takes a calmer, more stable form of love to yield clear health benefits. “There is very nice evidence that people who participate in satisfying, long-term relationships fare better on a whole variety of health measures”.

Health Benefits

You live longer - One study has gone so far as to say the impact of marriage on health and life expectancy, particularly in men, is almost equivalent to giving up smoking. Professor Andrew Oswald, lead researcher of the University of Warwick study says, “ Smoking takes on average seven years off a man’s life and marriage gives him an extra seven years.” For women marriage gives you an extra three years.

It’s not fully understood why this is but one reason is that marriage protects against death by warding off feelings of isolation.

It makes you happy - There seems to be a really strong link between love and joy. Married people are twice as likely to be “happy with life” and less than half as likely to be “not too happy” compared to either single, cohabiting, separated, divorced or widowed people.

A study in the Journal of Family Psychology shows happiness depends more on the quality of family relationships than on the level of income. So money doesn’t always make you happy but a good marriage just might!

Less depression and fewer mental health problems - It’s not just your physical health that marriage protects. It makes people far less likely to suffer mental health problems too. A US study found mental health improves consistently and substantially after marriage and deteriorates substantially after divorce or separation.

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