Tara Parker-Pope, of the New York Times, recently did an excellent analysis on the topic of the effects of marriage on health. Parker-Pope reports, “Contemporary studies … have shown that married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer, or have heart attacks.”
I wrote quite a bit about this phenomena in my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. Now, a group of Swedish researchers has found that being married at midlife is also associated with a lower risk for dementia.
Indeed, Parker-Pope writes, “for many years, studies like these have influenced both politics and policy, fueling national marriage-promotion efforts, like the Healthy Marriage Initiative of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
From 2006 to 2010, the program received $150 million annually to spend on projects like ‘divorce reduction’ efforts and often cited the health benefits of marrying and staying married.”
Yet, “while it’s clear that marriage is profoundly connected to health and well-being, new research is increasingly presenting a more nuanced view of the so-called marriage advantage.”
She concludes her comprehensive column sayhing, “… (the) research shows that some level of relationship stress is inevitable in even the happiest marriages. The important thing … is to use those moments of stress as an opportunity to repair the relationship rather than to damage it.”
In other words, “It can be so uncomfortable, even in the best marriages, to have an ongoing disagreement … but when your marital relationship is the key relationship in your life, a disagreement is really a signal to try to fix something.”
If you’re interested in improving your health, consider reading 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. You can get a signed copy here.
Also, if you’re interested in improving the health of your marriage, consider reading, with your spouse, my and Barb’s book, His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage. You can get a copy, autographed by us both, here.