Happily married couples are healthier: study

Happily married couples are healthier: study

It's official! Marital bliss can lead to better health. Couples in happy marriages enjoy better health than their less happy peers, a new 20-year study has found.

In the long-term longitudinal study, tracking health and marriage quality, Brigham Young University family life researcher Rick Miller found that as the quality of marriage holds up over the years, physical health holds up too.

"There's evidence from previous research that marital conflict leads to poor health. But this study also shows happy marriages have a preventative component that keeps you in good health over the years," Miller said.

The current study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, shows positive marriage relationships sustain health over the long run.

The study used data from a nationally representative sample of 1,681 married individuals followed over the course of two decades – the longest study on marital quality and health to date.

Miller and colleagues measured marital quality in two ways: First, in terms of happiness and satisfaction, and, second, in terms of marital problems (Do you argue about money? Do you fight about in-laws?).

Respondents then rated their health on a 1 (excellent) to 4 (poor) scale.

The results showed those with higher marital conflict were more likely to report poor health.

"The implication is that marital conflict is a risk factor for poor health. Couples that fight or argue frequently should get professional help to reduce their conflict because it is affecting their health," Miller said.

"When spouses have a bad day, in a happy marriage, they're more likely to support each other and empathise with each other. That support reduces stress and helps buffer against a decline in health," he said.

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