Get Married, Get Healthy?

By Katie, 3:42 pm

My marriage definitely has its perks – tax benefits, insurance coverage, LOVE, living longer. Wait, living longer??? 8-O

According to this recent New York Times article, scientists have long known that, on average, married people tend to be healthier and live longer than unmarried people. They call it the “marriage advantage.” Studies have shown that, among other things, married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer, or have heart attacks.

The article emphasizes that this correlation between marriage and health isn’t about the institution of marriage; rather, it’s about the relationship that marriage encourages. In other words, you only get these health benefits if you have a happy, stable marriage. Stressful marriages, on the other hand, can be extremely detrimental to your health.

The article got me thinking about how my marriage has affected my health. Granted, I’ve only been married for about two years, so I’ve still got a long way to go. (Perhaps longer than I would have if I were single. ;-) ) Dave and I discussed the topic over dinner last night, and here’s what we concluded.

Physical Health

We both agreed that we are physically healthier today than we were prior to marriage, although not all of it can be attributed to our marriage itself. In terms of our diets, both of us eat healthier than we did pre-vow-exchange. When I was living on my own, I ate a frozen entree for dinner literally every night…ugh! (Worst part is that I thought I was being healthy! :roll: ) Dave estimates that if he were single he would probably cook for himself once, maybe twice, per week.

In terms of fitness, I’m about the same. I first joined a gym in high school, so exercise has been a regular part of my life for quite some time. Dave exercises significantly less than he did in high school and college, when he was involved in sports and pick-up games. However, the little bit of formal exercise he does engage in today is mostly because of my prompting. ;-)

Emotional Health

Dave and I will be the first ones to tell you that a happy marriage is directly connected to emotional health. You just can’t beat the love, stability, and support that a committed relationship brings. In addition, I’ve found that constantly having someone in my life with whom I can share my fears and frustrations - someone who isn’t afraid to see my raw emotions in all of their glory – has worked wonders in terms of helping me get in touch with those emotions.

Spiritual Health

I’m a firm believer in the importance of sharing your deepest beliefs and values with your lifelong partner. Dave and I have always “clicked” in terms of our faith; we share the same vision for how we want to live our lives. This is great because when one of us begins to falter – losing touch with what matters the most – the other is there to encourage, motivate, and uplift. And, at the risk of sounding totally mushy and lovey-dovey, my belief in a loving God is only strengthened by my relationship with Dave; I feel so grateful for the blessing that our marriage is. (Love ya, babe!)

So all-in-all, I didn’t do this for the health benefits. They’re just the icing on the (three-tiered) cake. ;-)

If you’re married or in a committed relationship, do you think your relationship has improved your health? How so? If you’re not married, do you think the correlation between marriage and health makes sense? Or is it just a bunch of baloney?

18 Responses to “Get Married, Get Healthy?”

  1. i would say so! at the very least it’s helped me to WANT to live a healthier and happier life :)

  2. christina says:

    hahah i can see that! being single is so much fun for me, but definitely dangerous!! haha

  3. I’m not married, but in a commited relationship. At first, it was easy to slip and go out t dinner ALL the time. Now that we’re settled, however, we made a commitment to get healthy and it’s so fun doing it together!

  4. My husband is the most active person I know!! I love that!

  5. Tamara says:

    It’s certainly improved me as a human being. I’ve lived with Sweetie for about 3 years now, and I’ve grown up a lot in that time. He’s helped me evolve from a stressed-out perfectionist who worried about every little thing to someone who can have some fun in life. Less stress = less stress eating = healthier me. As for him, he used to eat frozen chicken dinners every single night too, but now that I’m around he swallows a vegetable every now and again!

  6. I definately think I am healthier because of my husband and not just physically. My husband was so supportive of me and I think having that support was exactly what I needed to really heal all of my hurts. And the amazing part is, he loved me then and he loves me now. <3

  7. Candice says:

    Absolutely! Collectively, since we got engaged, we’ve lost about 150 pounds. And I’m almost 100 of those pounds. My husband is still in the process of losing weight, so that number is growing. But we’re definitely healthier together both mentally and physically.

  8. Jessie says:

    I love your wedding picture! You’re gorgeous! :)

    I definitely agree with this study. Peter and I are fitter than ever because we’ve both made it a habit to exercise (we encourage each other). We also eat healthier than ever (but that’s mostly my influence ;) ).

  9. Josie says:

    hi, there! i found you after i read the comment you left on Elle’s acquired tastes) blog. i have very recently ditched calorie counting, etc., in favor of more intuitive eating.

    i just wanted to say that this week, since about wednesday, has been not so good for me. all i can do is hope in the Lord that things get better. i hope whatever is going on with you gets totally better, ASAP! i will be praying for you!

    ps- i love your site!

  10. This is really interesting! I’m not married, but I’ve heard this before and absolutely believe it’s true. However, it’s interesting to relate that article to another study that was published in January’s American Journal of Preventive Med (NYTimes article about it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/health/05weight.html) which found that woman who live with a “mate” gain more weight than those who don’t. Obviously this isn’t true for everyone (as is evident by the comments above), but in general it seems maybe married woman are living longer…but heavier?

  11. Jess says:

    I am totally healthier post vows in ALL aspects. When you are with the right person, everything is better.

  12. Tina says:

    My marriage has definitely improved my health. In all the ways you mentioned. :) Peter is my rock and helps strengthen me in tough times, helps me keep on working hard with goals, shares my passion for fitness, and everything in between.

  13. Lisa says:

    At the risk of sounding arrogant, I think my boyfriend’s life has greatly improved since meeting me. He mentioned the other day that he was NEVER as active as he was since he’s met me. And it’s true, we hike, we bike, we do active things ALL THE TIME. :)

    • Katie says:

      That doesn’t sound arrogant at all! You should be very proud that you’ve helped him improve his health and his life so much. :)

  14. Jennifer says:

    I love this post. What it comes down to is that being in a great marriage gives you the will to live for the next day and the next. You want to be strong and at your best for that person, therefore you want to better yourself whether it be more healthy, more financially stable, etc. When your making a decision it’s not only affecting you, but your spouse and his life as well. So who wouldn’t want to better themselves physically and mentally for their significant other, because we would want them to do the same for us! :D

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