A Happy Marriage Is Good For Your Health

A happy marriage reduces the risk of physical and mental illness. But if you divorce, lose your partner, or live in an unhappy marriage, the result can be poorer health.

Love occupies most of us. Naturally enough, there are therefore several studies that have taken a closer look at the health effects of living in a marriage. Living in a marriage can reduce the risk of pneumonia, in men it is associated with better survival after surgical interventions, in both sexes it has been shown that being married improves survival in cancer and heart disease. It also reduces the risk of dementia. Studies show that life expectancy is higher for those who are married than for those who are not.

Inspires a healthy lifestyle

Women in happy marriages appear to be at less risk of developing risk factors that can lead to cardiovascular disease than other middle-aged women. These health benefits include lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower BMI, and fewer psychosocial risk factors – such as depression, anxiety, and anger. Marriage has a protective effect in itself. Having a partner provides social support and protects against isolation. Having a spouse can also inspire a healthy lifestyle, and prevent unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Living in an unhappy marriage, on the other hand, is bad for your health. Older couples who are in unhappy marriages have a greater risk of heart disease than those who are happily married.

Stressful relationships increase the risk

An older study, published in the Swedish Läkartidningen in 2007, showed that a happy marriage, a good job, and a stress-free life led to a reduction in coronary artery disease in women over 55. Heart-diseased women who lived in an emotionally stressful relationship, on the other hand, had three times the risk of new cardiac events, as women who have no stress in their lives.

Marriage can be good for your health, but not if you are in a stressful, unhappy relationship. Getting divorced, or becoming a widow/widower, also has a significant, negative impact on health. These had worse health than those who had never been married. In other words – seen from a health perspective, it is better to be unmarried than to get married and then separate from your husband.

Positive for mental health – when the relationship lasts

Happy marriage4Several studies have concluded that marriage is positive for the mental health of men and women. It offers a lower risk of most mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and abuse of alcohol and pills. Here, it is also a lasting marriage that counts. Ending the marriage increases the risk of the same set of diseases.

Getting married again can help a little, but these too came out worse – health-wise – than those who stayed in a lasting marriage. However, staying in an unhappy marriage is not a good idea. This can increase the risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease.

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Several American studies have shown that the general level of happiness in a marriage has not increased in recent times – on the contrary. It seems to have gone down slightly. Today’s marriages may be characterized to a greater extent by more work-related stress, more marital conflicts, and less interaction in the relationship.

In 2023, 20,769 marriages were entered into in Norway. In the same year, 8,204 marriages ended in divorce.

In a study from 2019, the authors investigated whether the benefits marriage can have on subjective well-being also apply to cohabitation. The participants in the study were cohabiting and married men and women living in Great Britain, Australia, Germany, and Norway. The authors found no difference between cohabitation and marriage for British men, Norwegian men, and German women. However they found differences in men in Australia and women in Norway. For Norwegian women, the difference disappeared when one took into account how satisfied the woman was with the relationship. The authors conclude that one is not happier in a marriage than in a cohabitation, but that cohabitation can be a sign of tighter finances and emotional stress.

True love eases pain

When you find true love, no doubt having those bonds with someone can also make the pain easier to bear. This has also been shown in studies. One example is a study that was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Pain in 2019. There, the authors found that just being in the same room as the spouse/boyfriend can relieve pain. Even without touching each other physically or receiving verbal support.

Another study looked at how marital conflict can affect wound healing. Here, the couples who took part in the study had small blisters made on their arms. This happened in two rounds. In the first test, the pairs were assigned to discuss something pleasant afterward. In the second test, they had new blisters made. Then the assignment was to discuss conflict topics that they knew would lead to disagreement and arguments. The result was that it took the wounds an extra day to heal after an argument, compared to the pleasant talk.

The key to a long and happy marriage

Happy marriage 3

In other words, marriage can be the key to both a longer and healthier life or – if you live in an unhappy relationship, it can contribute to shortening your life.

So what is the key to a long, happy, and healthy marriage?

The answers from happy couples who were asked this question are to get involved, care, commit, and be a faithful companions. They like to see marriage as an institution that requires a lot of care, affection, and a willingness to be there through thick and thin. The happiest couples are friends who share life and have similar interests and values.