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Married men have a lower risk of fatal stroke than single men.  According to a study by Uri Goldbourt, Tel Aviv University’s Neufeld Cardiac Research Institute, the happier you are in marriage the lower your risk of stroke.  Men in unhappy marriages had a 64 percent higher risk of fatal stroke than married men who reported being happy, but married men, overall, had a lower risk than single men.

The researchers indicated that some of the apparent protection comes from enhanced prevention with a supportive and involved spouse—better health care, better diet, reminders about medication, and quick access to medical treatment should a major health problem occur.  But the study points to a key component:  marital happiness.

Studies like this one should also be a wakeup call to all to strengthen your relationship with your spouse—it is not a call to “unload” them via divorce.  The negative health ramifications associated with divorce are substantial.

Here’s a few more studies on the positive impact of marriage on health:

  • Married persons had the lowest incidences of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Amy Mehraban Pienta, “Health Consequences of Marriage for the Retirement Years,” Journal of Family Issues 21 (2000):  559-586.
  • Compared to men living with a wife and their children, fathers living alone-without spouse and apart from their children-experienced “almost four times as great a risk of all-cause mortality, 10 times of death from external violence, 13 times from fall and poisoning, almost five times from suicide and 19 times from addiction.” Even when controlling for health-selections effects and differences in socioeconomic status, researchers found “significantly elevated risks” remained for men living without a spouse and for men living without children. Gunilla Ringback Weitoft, Bo Burstrom, and Mans Rosen, “Premature Mortality Among Lone Fathers and Childless Men,” Social Science & Medicine 59 (2004): 1449-1459. As cited in: “Men Dying Alone, November 2004, ” New Research, The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society 18(11).
    • Cures for cancer were significantly more successful (eight to 17 percent) when a patient was married. Being married was comparable to being in an age category 10 years younger. James Goodwin, William Hunt, Charles Key and Jonathan Samet, “The Effect of Marital Status on Stage, Treatment, and Survival of Cancer Patients,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 258 (1987): 3,152-3,130.
    • “The size of the health gain from marriage is remarkable. It may be as large as the benefit from giving up smoking.” Chris Wilson and Andrew Oswald, “How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence,” Institute for the Study of Labor,” Discussion Paper No. 1619 (2005). 
    • Singleness was one of a number of important “psychosocial predictors of premature mortality.” Carlos Iribarren, David Jacobs, Catarina Kiefe, Cora Lewis, Karen Matthews, Jeffrey Roseman and Stephen Hullley, “Causes and Demographic, Medical, Lifestyle and Psychosocial Predictors of Premature Mortality: The CARDIA Study,” Social Science & Medicine 60 (2005): 471-482.

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