Happily married couples consider themselves healthier, expert says

February 13, 2013, University of Missouri-Columbia

Research shows that married people have better mental and physical health than their unmarried peers and are less likely to develop chronic conditions than their widowed or divorced counterparts. A University of Missouri expert says that people who have happy marriages are more likely to rate their health as better as they age; aging adults whose physical health is declining could especially benefit from improving their marriages.

Christine Proulx, an assistant professor in the MU Department of Human Development and Family Studies, examined the long-term relationship between self-rated and marital quality. She found that, in all stages of marriage, positive or negative relationships affect the individuals' health. Spouses should be aware that how they treat each other and how happy they are in their marriages affect both partners' health, and they should think more about their when thinking holistically about their health, she said.

"We often think about the as something we can treat medically with a pill or more exercise, but working on your marriage also might benefit your health as you age," Proulx said. "Engaging with your spouse is not going to cure cancer, but building stronger relationships can improve both people's spirits and well-being and lower their stress."

Proulx suggests that health professionals consider patients' personal relationships when designing health promotion programs or treatment plans.

"Physicians should recognize that the strength of patients' marriages might affect their health," she said. "I suspect we'd have higher rates of adherence to treatment plans for if medical professionals placed more of an emphasis on incorporating families and spouses in patients' care. If spouses understand their partners' disease and how to treat it at home, and the couple has a strong marriage, both people's health could improve."

Proulx analyzed data from 707 continuously married adults who participated in the Marital Instability Over the Life Course panel study, a 20-year, nationwide research project started in 1980 with funding from the Social Security Administration's Office of Research and Statistics and the National Institute on Aging.

Most study participants were Caucasian, had more than high school educations, and earned more than $55,000 in annual family income in 2000. Because of these characteristics, Proulx says the participants probably had some protection against marital and health challenges more commonly faced by people of different ethnicities or with less education or income.

Explore further: Couples who receive government assistance report less marital satisfaction, commitment, study finds

Related Stories

Couples who receive government assistance report less marital satisfaction, commitment, study finds

September 7, 2011
For better or worse, marital quality influences the well-being of couples and those around them. In addition, economic and social hardships can reduce overall happiness within marriages. According to a new study from the ...

I will if you will: What motivates spouses to get fit, manage illness

February 5, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Before spouses take their first step toward fitness, their partner's interest or willingness to participate can sway them, says a Purdue University family studies expert.

Recommended for you

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.