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Three Ways Marriage Improves Your Health

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Sep 28

Posted by Jim_Daly Sep 27, 2012

I want to share with you some scientific findings about the family that were culled from nearly 35 years worth of research. The results were analyzed and compiled by two of my Focus colleagues, Andrew Hess and Glenn Stanton. Following is a condensed version of their full report.

The Health Benefits of Marriage

The pursuit of health has become a cultural phenomenon. Diet, exercise, supplements, relaxation and medications have all been touted astheway to achieve good health.

It’s surprising, then, that one of the most powerful predictors of health and well-being remains largely ignored by the health and wellness community.

What predictor would that be?

Research suggests that married people enjoy significantly better health than the unmarried.

In other words, marriage is good for your health and your heart, in more ways than one.

In fact, one sociologist suggested the health benefits of marriage are as significant as the benefit from giving up smoking.

Here are the top findings:

1. Married adults have a greater likelihood of living longer than their unmarried counterparts.

Married people live longer because they are more likely to enjoy better physical health.

This is partly due to the fact they’re more likely to recognize symptoms, seek medical treatment, avoid risky behavior, recover quicker, and eat a healthier diet. Spouses are intimately aware of and impacted by their spouse’s choices. In a sense, couples have a significant vested interest in watching out for one another and encouraging healthy choices and behavior.

In case you haven’t noticed, wives tend to discourage drinking, smoking, unnecessary risk-taking, and also improve their family’s diet. In fact, men actually decrease many self-destructive patterns up to a year before their actual wedding date. It seems even planning to get married improves a man’s health.

Researchers found emotional support from a spouse can help people recover from both minor and major illnesses and even help cope with chronic diseases. Some studies even suggest that marital relationships actually boost the immune system,making sickness less likely in the first place.

2. Married men and women are less likely to suffer from any form of mental illness.

Married people have significantly lower rates of severe depression and at least half the likelihood of developing any psychiatric disorder than never-married, cohabiting and divorced people.

3. Married people are more likely to describe themselves as happy.

Men in nations with higher rates of marriage are happier than men in nations with lower rates of marriage. Some researchers have compared the overall increased happiness experienced by the married to the boost experienced after receiving a $100,000 annual pay raise.

The research is clear, diverse and consistent. Those who marry have a much higher likelihood of living longer, being healthier and being happier. For better or worse, married people tend to enjoy longer, healthier lives than those who never marry or dissolve their marriages.


I want to commend Andrew and Glenn for their important work on this topic. While not everyone might be called to marriage, the research does indicate that the institution is not only good for society as a whole but also individuals.

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