The benefits of marriage, especially for men, have been documented in myriad studies. Scientists from the Framingham Offspring Study found a 46% lower death rate among married men than their single counterparts. Other studies have shown that married men also have a lower risk of depression and other mental health issues, a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, and a better chance of survival when cancer is diagnosed than unmarried men.
For cohabiting couples in long-term relationships, these benefits might be motivation to tie the knot. However, a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests cohabiting couples may benefit as much as married couples.
Cohabitation: Good for Your Health?health of 10,000 participants by measuring blood inflammatory markers and respiratory capacity. The team controlled for factors that might affect health outcomes, including health history, previous education, income, and socioeconomic status.
Men who had never cohabited or married had worse overall health than other men in the study. This effect was less pronounced in women—whose marital status did not significantly impact their health—but women who married in their late 20s or early 30s did have better overall health than other women, including those who married younger and those who never married or lived with a partner.
Researchers did not find a connection between relationship transitions and health. People who divorced and then cohabited or remarried had similar health outcomes to those who remained married. Men who divorced in their late 30s and did not remarry even experienced a reduction in the risk of metabolic syndromes. Because the study looked at long-term outcomes, however, the researchers caution that their data might not capture the health effects of acute stress usually associated with divorce.
Are Marriage and Cohabitation Good for Everyone?
Though these figures might seem like valid reason to stick with a long-term relationship, the researchers are circumspect about the data. They point out that beliefs about marriage and long-term partnership are always changing, particularly among younger generations. The results of this study might only be relevant to members of the same generation as the cohort study.
- Marriage and men’s health. (2010, July 1). Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/marriage-and-mens-health
- Saxena, R. (2015, August 10). Good news for unmarried couples—cohabitation is good for you. Retrieved from http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/08/unmarried-couples-get-health-benefits-too
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