Research shows that partnering up has real benefits.
There’s plenty to be said for single life. No one yanks the covers off you in the middle of the night, you don’t have to wait for your partner to catch up before enjoying the next episode of your latest Netflix obsession, and you never find yourself contemplating murder as you listen to your partner chew their cereal in the morning. But getting hitched comes with its own set of benefits. There’s always someone available to snuggle up with on an icy morning, squash the spider behind your bathroom mirror, and share popcorn with at the movies. The perks are real.
It’s more than just snuggles and spider-killing, though. More and more studies are finding that a person’s quality of life drastically improves when they’re in a loving, long-term partnership. Research conducted around the globe shows that happily married couples enjoy better health, longer lives, and increased happiness. (A bad relationship, on the other hand, could actually kill you faster: something to keep in mind before you rush to the courthouse.)
Whether you’re staunchly single, happily hitched, or something in between, it’s worth considering these 13 potential benefits of partnership…
1. Less stress
A research study carried out by the University of Chicago found that people in committed romantic relationships are less responsive to stress than their single peers. Professor Dario Maestripieri, who headed up the study, said that, married or not, coupled-up folks had lower cortisol levels during exposure to a stressful situation, and in the hours immediately following. (Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone.) “Although marriage can be pretty stressful, it should make it easier for people to handle other stressors in their lives,” Maestripieri explained. “What we found is that marriage has a dampening effect on cortisol responses to psychological stress, and that is very new.”
2. Better physical health
When you’re single, it’s easier to put off going to the doctor about that nagging cough, getting your teeth cleaned, or making an appointment for your annual physical. Married men, especially, benefit from a partner who encourages (okay, nags) them about noticing symptoms, getting medical treatment, eating a healthier diet, and exercising. In general, however, research has shown that it’s helpful for both men and women to have a significant other looking out for their health.
3. Better mental health
According to a 1991 report on mental health in America, married people were significantly less likely to suffer from severe depression. They were also half as likely to develop any other type of psychiatric disorder. With depression and anxiety at epidemic levels in today’s society, anything you can do to protect your mental health seems like it’s worth considering.
4. Prolonged life
A study published in the September 2006 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that single people who had never been married had a significantly higher death rate than married people who lived with their spouses. According to the study, “having never been married was the strongest predictor of premature mortality.” Single men in particular were more vulnerable to an early death, although both unmarried women and men had higher rates of death compared with their married peers. All told, people without a life partner were 40 percent more likely to die of heart disease, and five times more likely to be diagnosed with an infectious disease.
5. Peak self-satisfaction
A 2013 study conducted by law firm Slater & Gordon found people are happiest in their third year of marriage. According to the results, couples basked in the glow of the wedding and honeymoon for the first year, spent the second year focused on getting to know one another, and by the third year, they felt most the most comfortable together, the happiest with themselves, and the most satisfied with their lives.
6. Fewer bad habits
Devoted couples pay attention to each other’s health, and whether this takes the form of concerned discussion or ceaseless prodding, it seems to have a positive effect. Studies show that in the year leading up to getting married, couples display fewer self-destructive patterns (quitting smoking, eating healthier, curbing reckless spending, etc.) This often continues into married life, with partners encouraging each other to live healthier and more productive lifestyles.
7. Less chance of accidental death
Divorce isn’t always a bad thing. Unfortunately, sociologists from Rice University and the University of Pennsylvania found that divorced people are more than twice as likely as married people to die from accidents like fire, poisoning, and smoke inhalation. Good news, though: deaths from air and water transportation accidents were equally likely for married and divorced people. Moral of the story: if you’re divorced, beware of fire and poison…
8. Improved attitude
Many spouses report sleeping better when their beloved is beside them (even if they snore like a chainsaw). And a good night’s rest puts people in a far happier state of mind, making them less likely to pick a fight or become irritable. So say your vows and sleep next to your sweetheart every night, and you may just become a pleasanter person.
9. More sex
Sex is as necessary to your health as food, water, and exercise. And married people have more of it. A 2010 paper showed that almost 61 percent of singles hadn’t had sex in the previous year, compared with only 18 percent of married respondents. Furthermore, over 40 percent of married couples say they have sex more than twice a week, while only 20 percent of singletons get it on that often.
10. Healthier heart
Love can be better for your heart in more ways than one. According to research conducted in Finland, people who are married have lower rates of coronary disease and heart attacks.
11. More stability
According to research conducted by psychologist and researcher at The Ohio State University Christopher Fagundes, couples who have developed a deep level of respect towards one another are far less likely to be involved in risk-taking behavior, including substance abuse and addiction.
12. Less social anxiety
Sorry, singletons: while it’s good to have alone time (and being lonely can actually be healthy once in a while), a research study published in the journal Psychological Medicine in April 2018 showed that single people are more prone to suffer from depression and social anxiety. The study showed that people who self-identified as being lonely were more than twice as likely to develop depression and social anxiety. Of course, it’s possible to be lonely in a marriage, as well – but generally speaking, married people tend to have more opportunities to socialize. Having a spouse usually means having a built-in social network, which can keep even the most stubborn introvert socially active and connected to the world.
13. Personal safety
You’ve heard the cliché that there’s safety in numbers. Turns out, it could be true. The United States Department of Justice released a survey in 2013 showing that married people were far less likely to be victims of violent crimes such as rape, robbery, assault, and domestic violence. While roughly 14 out of 1,000 married people were victims of violent crimes, never-married folks were victimized at a rate of 41 per 1,000. People who were divorced had a violent crime victimization rate of 37 per 1,000, while 83 out of 1,000 separated people were victims of violent crimes. Radford University criminal justice professor Dr. Tod Burke said this is likely attributable to the fact that single people (as well as divorced or separated people) are more likely to be alone in public, while married couples are more likely to be at home (perhaps enjoying a little Netflix – which, by the way, could actually make their relationship stronger).
Images via cancunstudios, giphy, tumblr
Comment: Do you think the benefits of marriage are worth it?