Altered States: The Health Benefits of Marriage
By Gary Picariello
Certainly love is a great catalyst for tying the knot, but the institution of marriage provides a lot of other tangible benefits to include free meals, a warm bed and constant companionship. Not necessarily in that order. In fact more and more evidence is pointing to married couples having stronger immune systems, better overall physical condition, a lower risk of sickness, surgery and even coronary issues such as heart attacks.
I don't recall if I considered any of that before I walked down the aisle. But guess what, it’s not the institution of marriage per se that is contributing to healthy brides and grooms, it’s the quality of the relationship that has the most impact.
It's About Quality Time
And therein lies the key: Experts say marriage can lead to better overall health, but the mere fact of being married isn’t what’s keeping you on your feet with a big smile on your face. It's the quality of the marital union that counts. Being married for 30 or 40 years and being miserable the entire time is not going to get you any bonus points for longevity. In fact it will no doubt have the opposite effect.
Pick Your Battles
We all grow up hoping for a white-picket fence (in my case it was a hot tub) and the adrenaline-rush that our first kiss provided. But current research is showing that a hostile fight with your husband or wife isn’t just bad for the relationship, it can have a profound toll on your body. Arguments, as pointed out in an article on WebMd.com, causes stress. Stress as I'm sure you suspected, can wreak havoc on everything from the immune system to the brain to the nervous system. The solution? Pick your battles. Researchers say even the happiest of couples argue, but the most successful couples know to put limits on what they argue about. And the REAL smart couples don't go to bed angry.
Pucker Up and Say "I do"
But enough about the negativity of bad relationships, we’re here to reinforce why marriage is a good thing. The "physicality of marriage" has many benefits: Holding hands, a peck on the cheek, even a back rub has a calming effect on us both mentally and physically. And this contact may be lacking in individuals who are single, divorced or have lost a spouse. Closeness, it seems, does have its benefits -- the merits of which can certainly be found in marriage.