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With some questionable health advice being posted by your friends on Facebook, politicians arguing about the state of the American healthcare system and a new medical study being summarized in just a sentence or two on TV---that seems to contradict the study you heard summarized yesterday---it can be overwhelming to navigate the ever-changing landscape of health news.

To Your Health: Is Being Married Good For You?

When a newly married couple smiles, everyone knows why. When a ten-year married couple smiles, everyone wonders why.

Despite all the jokes about miserable marriages, research suggests that people who are married are happier and healthier. But, are these people happier and healthier because they are married?

On the Harvard Health Blog, Dr. Robert H. Shmerling reports there are four prominent theories about this. First, people in happy marriages may be healthier because they have lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that impairs immune function. Next, behavior may improve when you are married. You are less likely to take risks and more likely to visit the doctor regularly. This is particularly true for married men who are more likely to have a spouse encourage them to take care of their health. Third, better social support is linked to better mental health and, as an article in the Psychological Bulletin points out, marriage is the central relationship to provide social support. Finally, there’s the possibility married people could have had better health before getting married.

One thing is for sure though: just being married does not automatically provide health benefits. People in stressful, unhappy marriages may be worse off than a single person who has supportive, caring friends, family, and loved ones.


Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs is an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Middle & Secondary Education. She writes for special publications of The Southeast Missourian and is a certified Community Health Worker.
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