Marriage doesn't benefit everyone

You've heard it time and time again:  marriage is good for your health. 


Studies have shown that married folks not only live longer but also enjoy better health than their singleton peers.  Married couples have a lower risk of strokes, cancer and heart attacks.  Married folks are less depressed and anxious--not only that, but marrieds often show increased overall happiness. 

The particular reasons behind these marriage benefits are somewhat debatable.  But the general consensus is that marriage offers you a healthier, less-stressful lifestyle, better financial security, and a partner to help you weather life's storms (and, perhaps, to nag you to take better care of yourself). 

But do these benefits extend to all married couples?  New research from the Ohio State University and the University of Texas at Austin suggests maybe not

The researchers used data from nearly 800,000 people who participated in the National Health Interview Survey.  Hui Zheng, a professor of Sociology at Ohio State, discovered something interesting when looking at the marriage/health data.  Those of us who are already in poor health don't get a boost from marriage.  This held for both men and women.  But perhaps even more telling, smug marrieds tended to overestimate their own health. 

Zheng says that this data suggests that marriage may show a protective effect before you get sick--but not after.  And that the social support involved in a marriage may make individuals underestimate how debilitating their conditions may be.

What do you think?  Does marriage really have all the health benefits we've been led to believe?

Photo credit:  Khamidulin Sergey

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