Many a bachelor has taunted and teased a groom-to-be that “I do” will be his famous last words. But for all the jesting predictions about the finality or fatality of marriage, walking down the aisle could be the healthiest thing you do to keep your relationship alive and your heart ticking.
A new study published in the Journal of Health Psychology suggests that when it comes to major heart surgery, marriage can be a good predictor of long-term survival. The study found that married men and women were 250 percent more likely to be alive 15 years after coronary artery bypass surgery than their unmarried counterparts. Marriage had an even greater impact on men’s post-op longevity. Fifteen years after bypass surgery, over 80 percent of happily married men’s hearts were still beating for the one they loved, while only 36 percent of single men were still living. Even among male patients who rated their marriages poorly, almost two-thirds survived past the 15-year mark.
Greater surgery survival rates aren’t the only benefit that comes with giving your heart away in matrimony. In addition to the usual prescriptions of regular exercise and a balanced diet, tying the knot could be one of the most beneficial lifestyle changes you make. Marriage can have a profoundly positive effect on men and women’s psychological well-being, stress levels, drinking and smoking habits, and overall longevity. Marriage is even associated with reduced mortality rates from cancer.
The benefits of marriage do not stop at the doctor’s office door. Married men and women also tend to have better financial health, increased savings, and greater social mobility than unmarried individuals. Perhaps most importantly, lifelong, married love can provide the best environment for raising well-adjusted, successful children.
With its many social, economic, and even health benefits, one need only place a finger on the state of marriage to read the pulse of civil society. Skyrocketing unwed birth rates, no-fault divorce laws, and increasing cohabitation have placed the health of families and society in peril. Fortunately, the same strength of heartstrings that can help pull men and women through surgery can also restore families and build stable, loving homes for the next generation.
Policymakers, especially, have an important role in prescribing remedies for society’s faltering view of marriage by promoting the many benefits of matrimony for love, life, and health.