Marriage is a shield that saves a number of women

Married women face less partner abuse, substance abuse or post-partum depression than women who are in a live-in relationship.

Man putting a ring on his wife's finger
Married women are safer, and less depressed than unwed mothers in live-in relationships

Marriage is usually a bond for a lifetime. Of caring for each other, through good times and bad. It also helps women get less depressed after delivering a baby.

Married women face less partner abuse, are less prone to substance abuse or feel less severe post-partum depression than women who are co-habitating or unmarried, a new study has found.

Also, unmarried women living with their partners for less than two years were more likely to face at least one of the three problems. But, the more they lived together, lesser their chances of facing these problems.

The problems were most common among women who were separated or divorced, especially if the couple parted less than 12 months before their child was born.

Dr. Marcelo Urquia, an epidemiologist at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael's Hospital wanted to delve deeper into the risks and benefits of the various kinds of relationships in which children were born.

The results of his study were published in the American Journal of Public Health.

"What is new in this study is that for the first time we looked at the duration of unmarried cohabitation and found the shorter the cohabitation, the more likely women were to suffer intimate-partner violence, substance abuse or post-partum depression around the time of conception, pregnancy and delivery," Dr. Urquia said. "We did not see that pattern among married women, who experienced less psychosocial problems regardless of the length of time they lived together with their spouses."

Dr. Urquia said that understanding the differences between married and co-habitating partners was important with the rising number of children born outside marriages. 30 per cent of children in Canada are born to unmarried couples, up from nine per cent in 1971. In several European countries, births out of wedlock are greater in number than those to married couples.

Dr. Urquia revealed that about one in 10 married women [10.6 per cent] faced partner or substance abuse or post-partum depression as per his study of data from the 2006-07 Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey, a nationwide sample of 6,421 childbearing women compiled by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

He found 20 per cent of women who were co-habitating but not married suffered from at least one of those three psycho-social conditions. The figure rose to 35 per cent for single women who had never married and to 67 per cent for those who separated or divorced in the year before birth.

Dr. Urquia said it was unclear whether problems such as partner or substance abuse were the cause or result of separations.

Eurekalert!

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