Should you marry a passionate lover or your best friend? Here’s what science says.

Married people even do better during the so-called middle-age slump.

We've known for a long time that married people experience better physical and mental health, just so long as they're happily married. Last year, a study out of Carnegie Mellon University found that marriage may have stress relieving properties, as those ensconced in marital bliss carry less of the stress hormone cortisol in their bloodstream, than singles or the divorced.

Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can lead to low-level inflammation throughout the body, which is a contributing factor to some of the most dreadful conditions, including diabetes, dementia, and heart disease.


There are lots of other advantages to being hitched, such as a lower risk of depression, heart attack, or stroke. The contently married also have a higher likelihood of living longer, of enjoying better financial health, and surviving cancer, should they be diagnosed. Surprisingly, men actually benefit more from a healthy marriage than women. Now, another study finds that for both sexes, those who consider their spouse their best friend experience even greater benefits. The results were published in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2017.

Being married provides a number of physical and mental health benefits. Credit: Getty Images.


Though previous research illustrated the benefits of a good marriage, there's been much debate about why this is. Is it that marriage is so good for us, or that happier people are more likely to get married? Another issue, some previous studies found that after an initial bump, satisfaction scores for married couples actually fell to pre-marriage levels.

Here, researchers from Vancouver School of Economics in Canada decided to investigate. They wanted to know if there was a bump in well-being and how long it lasted. They also looked into what effect if any, friendship had on marriage.

Study authors Shawn Grover and John Helliwell studied data-sets collected from two large-scale U.K. surveys, the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the Annual Population Survey. With the former, they looked at the years between 1991 and 2009, and the latter 2011 to 2013. The BHPS had 30,000 participants, and the Annual Population Survey 328,000. The average age to get married was around 30 for a man and 28 for a woman.

Married couples did enjoy greater life satisfaction, researchers found, higher than singles, both among the divorced and never married. But is it short-lived? "Even after years the married are still more satisfied," Helliwell said. "This suggests a causal effect at all stages of the marriage, from pre-nuptial bliss to marriages of long-duration." Cohabitating couples showed similar benefits.

A happy marriage increased life satisfaction for the entire duration of the couple's time together, researchers found. Credit: Getty Images.

One particularly sunny find was that the increase in satisfaction was sustained through middle-age, a period when happiness dips significantly, only to rise again in retirement. Helliwell said, "Marriage may help ease the causes of a mid-life dip in life satisfaction and the benefits of marriage are unlikely to be short-lived."

Researchers also wanted to know what role friendship played. Previous studies found that having friends is essential to happiness. Having friends who share our beliefs, known as “super-friends," are even more crucial. "The well-being benefits of marriage are much greater for those who also regard their spouse as their best friend," Helliwell said. “These benefits are on average about twice as large for people whose spouse is also their best friend."

Around half of all married respondents said their spouse was their best friend. Surprisingly, this particular boost was greater for women than men. One limitation is that the findings can only be applied to Western countries.

Want more insights on the state of marriage today? Click here:

Should you defend the free speech rights of neo-Nazis?

Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
  • In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

Moon mission 2.0: What humanity will learn by going back to the Moon

Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.

Videos
  • July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
  • Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
  • NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.

Top vets urge dog lovers to stop buying pugs and bulldogs

Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds. 

Photo by terriermandotcom.blogspot.com
popular
  • Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade.
  • Higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black may be the cause.
  • These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. Air Force warns UFO enthusiasts against storming Area 51

Jokesters and serious Area 51 raiders would be met with military force.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Facebook joke event to "raid Area 51" has already gained 1,000,000 "going" attendees.
  • The U.S. Air Force has issued an official warning to potential "raiders."
  • If anyone actually tries to storm an American military base, the use of deadly force is authorized.
Keep reading Show less