A good marriage is a great way to avoid loneliness and cultivate a warm and supportive relationship. Two news stories this week report that good marriages impact physical health.
These stories confirm much previous research that shows that people who are happily married not only tend to live longer than those who are unmarried, but also appear to live more highly healthy lives; they have increased quantity and quality of life.
I’ve repeatedly seen convincing scientific and anecdotal evidence that the labor we invest into making our marriages a success will reap significant health benefits for us and for our spouses.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, published a study of nearly 10,000 married men who had no history of chest pain. Men with elevated risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, older age, or abnormalities on their EKG were over twenty times more likely to develop angina (chest pain) over the five years of the study.
However, those who answered yes to the question, “Does your wife show you her love?” had significantly less angina. Men with the same risk factors who answered no had twice as much angina.
The researchers drew this conclusion: “The wife’s love and support is an important balancing factor which apparently reduces the risk of angina pectoris even in the presence of high risk factors.”
Another study looked at 8,500 men with no history of duodenal ulcers. Men who reported a low level of love and support from their wives had twice as many ulcers as men who felt their wives both loved and supported them.
On the other side of the gender coin, a study from the University of Pittsburgh just last year reported that women in good marriages had a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those in high-stress relationships.
The National Longitudinal Mortality Study, which has been tracking more than a million subjects since 1979, shows that married people live longer, have fewer heart attacks and lower cancer rates, and even get pneumonia less frequently than singles.
My prescription for an unhealthy marriage is not to amputate a mate but to heal the marriage. It takes mutual effort and steadfast commitment, but it is well worth it.
You can read more about this in my book, God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Person. You can order it here.
You can learn more about the differences in the male and female brain, and how to these differences can either drive you apart or weld you together in my newest book, co-written with my wife of 35 years, Barb. It’s called His Brian, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Your Marriage. You can order a copy here.