Marriage and mens health

Marriage may be the best thing a man can do for his health. Over the past decade many long-term studies have shown a clear link between marriage and mens health. Overall, married men are healthier and live longer than their single, divorced or widowed counterparts. It works the other way, too: stress in marriage also tends to negatively impact mens health more than women’s.

Marriage benefits for mens health include:

  • Never-married men are three times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than married men.
  • Married men have a 46% lower rate of death than single men, even when controlling for major cardiovascular risk factors such as age, body fat, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.
  • Cancer patients who have intact marriages have a better chance of recovery and/or longer survival time.
  • Married men have cancer detected at an earlier stage and are more likely to get treatment.
  • Being married is linked to better cognitive function and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Why marriage?

Researchers posit that having an intimate partner offers behavioral, biological and psychological benefits for mens health. Men on their own tend to have a lower standard of living and engage in riskier behavior than women. Some studies have suggested that this contributes the men’s overall lower life-expectancy when compared to women. Living with a wife means men take better care of themselves. They are more likely to get regular checkups and doctors visits, eat healthier food, and less likely to drink or smoke excessively or engage in other risky behavior.

Secondly, marriage provides both spouses with a stable, emotionally supportive environment that also reduces stress by pooling resources. While women tend to have strong networks of social support, men tend to have fewer strong interpersonal relationships. Marriage provides them with a core human need for social connection and intimacy. Wives are companions, cheerleaders, coaches, advisors and comforters. Married men are less likely to experience loneliness or depression. A supportive marriage means a husband is more likely to live through and recover from an health problems that do occur.

Happy marriage is key

Of course, none of these stress-reducing benefits on mens health work if the marriage is a source of stress. Stress causes the release of hormones such as adrenaline,which raises blog pressure, and cytokines–proteins that trigger inflammation. Over time marital stress can lead to hypertension and the thickening of the heart’s main pumping chamber. An Israeli study also showed marital stress led to a 34% increase in the chance of dying from a stroke. Interestingly, these effects were not caused by

Given this information, marriage problems take on an extra level of urgency, even the low-level ones. Not only are they making you unhappy, they’re also hurting your health. Nip little, unpleasant problems in the bud as soon as possible with a therapist or an online marriage counseling program like Power of Two. It pays to work on keeping your marriage happy and harmonious–it literally may add years to your life!


via “Marriage and Men’s Health.” Harvard Men’s Health Watch, July 2010.