Promoting a Flourishing Society

Marriage is Good for Your Health

September 29, 2016

As governments and individuals struggle to make informed and well-considered public policy decisions on the issue of healthcare it is becoming increasingly important that they take into account the state of Canadian marriages. Marriage is Good for Your Health examines more than 50 published, empirical studies on the correlation between marital status and health. An overwhelmingly large majority of the studies indicates that married couples are happier, healthier, and live longer than those who are not married. Moreover, there is strong research to back the conclusion that the quality of a marriage is a critical variable in the health benefits that couples enjoy.

(click image for full infographic)

Health Advantage Highlights

Numerous studies indicate that married people tend to have:

  • Higher likelihood of recovering from cancer
  • Lower risk of suffering a heart attack
  • Better odds of surviving a heart attack
  • Quicker recovery from illness
  • Healthier habits and lifestyles
  • Better responses to psychological stress

The Marriage Quality Factor

Having a marriage where partners experience high satisfaction with their relationship, predominantly positive attitudes and low hostility towards their mate is vital for couples' good health advantages. By contrast, a considerable body of research indicates a low-quality marriage has several harmful effects on couples' health:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased depression
  • ncreased time needed for healing of physical wounds
  • Increased levels of stress hormones
  • Decreased immune function

Public Policy Implications

Marriage is a private choice, but it has public consequences for the Canadian healthcare system. Canadians' declining participation in marriage isn't merely a statistical trend. Given that marriage has been found to be a factor in better cancer recovery and fewer cardiac problems, should it not be considered a public health issue? Could public policy that supports and improves the quality of Canadian marriages not lead to lower costs for the public health system? Governments, religious institutions, the medical profession, and communities all need to be aware that marriage is an important factor in individuals' health outcomes. If these groups understand the relationship between marital status and illness, healthcare can be improved both for those who are married and those who are not.

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Topics: Health, Policy, Marriage