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Why marriage can be good for your health

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Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013 12:00 am

roponents of marriage may quote any number of reasons why couples should tie the knot instead of living a life of singlehood. A desire to raise children together is one reason many couples wed, but getting hitched might also be better for your health. That's right, a growing body of evidence has suggested marriage may be beneficial for men and women from a health and wellness standpoint.

A 2006 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community found that, compared with married people, people who are widowed, are divorced/separated or have never married are more likely to die earlier. In addition to a greater combined wealth that may make access to health insurance or better healthcare possible, there are a number of possible reasons behind why married couples tend to be healthier and happier.

* Safety: Being married and committed to one partner reduces your risk of developing a disease through intimate encounters. Furthermore, married couples tend to be less involved in behaviors that may put them at risk for violent altercations between others. Research by the United States Justice Department has found that single and divorced women are four to five times more likely to be victims of violence in any given year than women who are married, while bachelors are four times more likely to be victims of violent-crime than men who are married.

* Health monitoring: Married couples may pay attention to and monitor changes in each other's health more so than boyfriends and girlfriends. Couples who can recognize the subtle changes in physical or emotional health may be able to identify problems before they become more serious. Couples may also be able to urge spouses to make appointments for routine health screenings and follow up on doctors' appointments.

* Greater financial security: Money is a primary source of stress for many men and women. But living in a dual-income household can ease some of that stress and the potential health problems that come with it. Some research has indicated that married men make as much as 40 percent more money than comparable single men, even after accounting for education and job history. Marriage could be seen as an indication of security and trustworthiness, traits appealing to a company.

* Increased intimacy: According to information compiled by Richard Niolon Ph.D., nearly half of all married people engage in intimate relations twice a week, compared to 20 to 24 percent of single and cohabitating men and women. Sex releases endorphins that improve mood, can be classified as moderate exercise, creates a feel-good environment that can reduce stress and promotes further contact between couples.

* Improves mental health: Many people joke that getting married removes freedoms that lead to happiness, but researchers find that this isn't the case. In their book, "The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially," authors Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher found married men are only half as likely as bachelors and one-third as likely as divorced guys to take their own lives. Wives are also much less likely to commit suicide than single, divorced or widowed women. Married people are much less likely to have problems with alcohol abuse or illegal drugs. An international study of 17 developed nations from Steven Stack and J. Ross Eshleman found that "married persons have a significantly higher level of happiness than persons who are not married," even after controlling for gender, age, education, children, church attendance, financial satisfaction, and self-reported health.

There are many health-related benefits to getting married. Men and women about to enter into a new life together can add good health to the reason why they are happy about their upcoming nuptials.

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