By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
The health benefits of marriage, both physical and emotional, have been well documented since the 1850’s when a British epidemiologist by the name of William Farr concluded that the unmarried die “in undue proportion” to those who are married. He offered, "The single individual is more likely to be wrecked on his voyage than the lives joined together in matrimony." We would offer that his conclusions of a century and a half ago still apply today.
Dr. Edward P. Ehlinger, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, concluded the following in an article on September 22, 2012: “Recent studies confirm Farr's observation of lower mortality rates and better physical and mental health among married individuals. Married men and women have lower rates of depression, Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease, smoking, substance abuse and cancer. After controlling for other factors, married couples have higher levels of cognitive functioning, happiness and life satisfaction. All the health benefits of marriage are consistent across age, race and education groups.”
His conclusion is powerful and totally consistent with our research on marriage over the past three decades. Married couples are healthier, happier, more mentally well adjusted, more socially adjusted, and better off economically, as are their children.
There should be nothing surprising or Earth-shattering about these notions. It stands to reason that those who have somebody (“Everybody needs somebody, sometime.”) will be happier, healthier, and more socially well-adjusted.
Human beings are social animals – they want and need someone to spend their life with. When they have someone, they are, in fact, healthier – on virtually all fronts. Why would anyone argue against something so obvious? Why would anyone deny such a well-known truth? In our estimation, and based on our 30+ years of interviewing successfully married couples around the world, it is clear that the best marriages understand the health benefits of marriage. To deny these benefits is to bury your head in the sand.
So why does being married translate into important health benefits? Simple, really. People who are married help take care of each other’s health and here is how they do it.
Couples have the recognition that the health of you and your spouse is critical to your relationship, both short-term and long-term. Successfully married couples watch out for each other’s eating habits, exercise, vitamins, and medicines because they know that their relationship with each other is enhanced when they are healthy. If you get married young, there is a tendency to ignore the health risk factors because you think you will live forever. Instead, begin thinking long-term and focus on developing healthy habits both physically and mentally.
Seven areas of focus to begin developing healthy living habits:
1. Learn to cook healthy meals together. Enjoy each other’s company while you spend extra time communicating with each other. Find recipes that are fun to fix and fun to eat together. A good way to start is to try a few of the salad recipes we have included in our recent book, Building a Love that Lasts (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) They are from happily married couples all over the world who realized that healthy eating benefitted their relationship with each other.
2. Develop a regular exercise program together. It doesn’t matter if it is just walking together in the evening after work or riding bicycles in the park or going to the gym or swimming. What matters is that you do it together and commit to staying on a regular program to enhance your physical and mental health. Yes, exercise does make a positive impact on your mental health.
3. Focus on maintaining good psychological health for yourself and your spouse. Having a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean on when things get tough can keep you from the depths of depression. Life can throw unbelievable challenges in your path, so having your spouse as your best friend can provide both of you with the support you need to make it through the tough times together. Like the song goes, “that’s what friends are for.”
4. For a long life together, take a balanced regiment of vitamins. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you will get all of your nutrition by eating a well balanced diet. While it might help, with the stress in today’s life it is critical that you make sure that you get the required vitamins and minerals with a good vitamin supplement.
5. Eliminate bad habits. In other words, cut back on your foods containing refined sugars, white flour, salt, food additives such as food coloring, artificial flavorings and preservatives. Stop smoking. Limit your intact of alcohol to 1-2 drinks per day. Get off the couch. Get more consistent sleep.
6. Get regular annual medical check-ups. Encourage your spouse to get a regular physical check-up annually by scheduling your appointments on the same day. Preventative care is far superior to having to deal with a health issue that went undetected for a long period of time.
7. Make living a healthy well-balanced life a priority. Just like everything else in life, you have to set your goals and priorities focused on what is important to you. While you may not have any health issues yet, if you develop healthy living habits that focus on maintaining a healthy well-balanced life style, you have a far greater chance of celebrating your golden years together.
You see, the health benefits of marriage come about as a result of the relationship between two people in love. It does take two to Tango. Marriage has many health benefits because of the behaviors of those who entered into the sacred bond of marriage. Honestly, does this surprise you?
There are many health benefits of marriage. Take advantage of them. You won’t regret it.
Love well. Love healthy.
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For marriage advice and hundreds of practical tips, get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts : The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
As America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts and award-winning authors, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz help international audiences answer questions about love, marriage and relationships. With over 30 years of research on love and successful marriage across six continents of the world and their own 46-year marriage, the Doctors know what makes relationships work.
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