Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Marry Well, Live Longer?

To all my single friends, let me make clear that I don’t believe being married is the only way to fulfillment and happiness. Jesus’ example alone should be enough to make that point.

But studies do show that on the whole married people live longer those living alone.

In spite of that, Dr. Mache Seibert, in a Care2 blog post, cites a report from the Pew Research Institute that shows that the number of new marriages dropped 5% from 2009 to 2010 and that only half of all adults in the United States are currently married. He also cites a 2006 study that shows that unmarried people living alone have the highest risk of death in the United States, and that compared with married people, people divorced or separated are at a 27% greater mortality risk, and people who have never married 58% greater.

Yet Americans are increasingly opting out of marriage, and there is a definite trend among young adults to wait until their later 20’s to legally marry (even though they are clearly not opting out of being sexually intimate or of living together in what would have previously be considered “common law” marriages).

If, according to current findings, married people have the longest life expectancy, it also follows that if we’re married, staying married is going to be better for our health, he says, unless we’re in a relationship in which there is ongoing adultery, addiction or abuse. Most couples who became single again by either divorce or death of a spouse, according to Dr. Seibert, tend to experience a decline in their physical health, are more likely to experience a chronic health conditions and a greater decrease in mobility than those still married to their first wife or husband by middle age. The divorced or widowed individuals also experienced more health and mobility problems.

The studies he cites suggest that those who remarry after being widowed or divorced still tend to experience 12% more chronic disease and 19% more mobility problems than those who are blessed with healthy enduring relationships. So his advice is that we should do everything we can to work at remaining happily married, and if we’re unhappily married, to try to work it out.

In order to do that, he says, “Don’t go for the jugular; don’t punch below the belt. Arguments are best recovered from if there is civility; some element of touch, some words of endearment rather than total hostility...Try to make up. Try to reconcile. Try to balance the emotional ledger. If both parties are committed, it’s never to late to repair. Marriage is good for your health.”

So far, it certainly seems to have been good for mine, for which I am thankful to God and to my wonderfully longsuffering and supportive wife.
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