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Does Marriage Make you Healthier?



When the benefits of marriage are debated, the discussion usually centers around children and money.

Much research has shown that marriage generally protects children, and that married people are usually better off financially than unmarried people.  

As I write about the benefits of social connectedness this week, I wanted to take a close look at the health benefits of marriage.  

Equally significant is research that measures how marriage affects health and longevity.  A deep and broad body of scientific literature has been accumulated that affirms what God said in Genesis 2:18:  “It is not good for man to be alone.”  

In a myriad of ways measured by social scientists, married people are better off than those single or divorced and live longer, healthier, and happier lives.  


Here are four areas to consider:

  1. Married People Are Happier:  Forty percent of married people say that they are very happy while only about 25 percent of those single or cohabiting rate life “very happy.”  This phenomenon crosses cultures.  A study by J. Ross Eshleman and Steven Stack looked at 17 developed nations and found similar results.  After controlling for age, gender, education, church attendance, children, self-reported health and financial satisfaction, they found that “Married persons have a significantly higher level of happiness than persons who are not married,” and “the strength of the association between being married and being happy is remarkably consistent across nations.”  

  2. Married People Live Healthier and Longer Lives:  In late middle age, the power of marriage becomes particularly evident.  Termed the “marriage gap in longevity,” researchers consistently find that nine out of 10 men who are alive at age 48 will make it to age 65, compared with just six out of 10 single men. These statistics have been corrected for race, education, and income.  Women fare well, too, but apparently handle being single better than men.  Nine of ten women alive at age 48 will still be alive at 65, while only eight single women reach this age.  Other researchers have found that married people sleep better, recover more quickly from surgery, have stronger immunity, and have lower levels of stress.    

  3. Physical Security:  Marriage lowers the risk of being a victim of violence for both women and men.  An analysis of the National Survey of Families was done by Linda Waite.  She found that people who cohabitate are three times more likely than married people to get physical when arguing

  4. Mental Stability:  Getting married gives people a powerful mental health boost.  Careful researchers, Nadine Marks and James Lambert, measured the psychological well being over several years of a variety of age groups to evaluate if it is that mentally healthy people marry or if marriage improves mental health.  They found that when people married, their mental health improved substantially and consistently.  Married men and women are less anxious, less depressed, and less psychologically distressed than single, widowed, or divorced people.  

The health benefits of marriage are remarkable and this brief blog barely touches the surface. I have known people who were infinitely better off single or divorced rather than married and who found their social connectedness in healthy relationships outside of marriage.  Nevertheless, this is interesting.  The key is to nurture quality relationships that enhance your health and well being.  You can do it.  I will help you.  

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