Hidden Benefits of Marriage

holding hands

Marriage is a commitment to stay true to one another "in sickness and in health." It's the assurance that our husband or wife will be there in the roughest times. But have you considered how marriage might protect us from sickness and unhappiness?

For over 100 years, sociologists and psychologists have been studying how married couples appear to be healthier, happier and wealthier than their wedding-ringless peers.

Regardless of culture or socio-economic factors, research consistently shows married people live markedly longer than the unmarried. The health benefit of marriage is strong enough, according to a 10-year British study, "to offset the risk of smoking for men and enough to offset approximately half the risk for women." Other studies show that married men and women are less likely to suffer from serious illnesses, and when they do, their recoveries are quicker and more successful. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported the health benefit of being married is equivalent to being in an age category 10 years younger.

Marriage not only gives you longer life, but a happier life, too. Since 1936, studies have shown significantly higher levels of overall happiness and mental health for married people. A more recent study involving 17 diverse industrial nations found that married couples were 3.4 times more likely to report being generally happy and overall content in life, compared with cohabitating couples.

If marriage is a ball and chain, it is a weight that slows down the curses of illness and unhappiness.

Glenn T. Stanton is the director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family and the author of The Ring Makes All the Difference: The hidden consequences of cohabitation and the strong benefits of marriage.

Marriage can have its twists and turns, but the detours don't have to lead you off course. The 12 essential elements outlined in the Crazy Little Thing Called Marriageare biblically based and chart the course for a romantic adventure that will last a lifetime.

This article first appeared in the summer 2012 issue of Focus on the Family's Thriving Family magazine.
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Copyright © 2012 Focus on the Family. From the Focus on the Family website at FocusOnTheFamily.com.

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