Marry, to live longer

Study highlights importance of marriage for surviving midlife and thus living longer

Husband and wife - married with flowers
Marriage reduces chances of dying prematurely in midlife

It is said that the longest sentence in the world is "I do". Well, new research does not quite agree with the "punishment" aspect of the quote but it does support the longevity bit of the quote. Once married, you will live longer, says the study. At least longer that the unmarried counterparts.

According to the research, not having a permanent partner, or spouse, during midlife may mean higher risk of dying prematurely during those midlife years. Dr. Ilene Siegler and colleagues from Duke University Medical Center in the US, studied 4,802 individuals who took part in the University of North Carolina Alumni Heart Study [UNCAHS] and their report is published Springer's journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

These researchers investigated the effect of marriage history and timing of marriage on premature death during midlife. They were also studying the role of pre-marital personality and measuring the role of health behaviors.

They studied stability and change in patterns of marital and non-marital status during midlife, controlling for personality at college entry [average age 18], socioeconomic status and health risk behaviors.

They found that having a life partner during middle age prevent premature death: those who never married were more than twice as likely to die early than those who had been in a stable marriage throughout their adult life. Being a bachelor, or losing a partner without remarriage, heightened the risk of early death in middle age thereby reducing the chances of surviving to be elderly. Even when personality and risky behaviors were taken into account, marital status continued to have a major impact on survival.

The authors conclude: "Our results suggest that attention to non-marital patterns of partnership is likely to become more important for these Baby Boomers. These patterns appear to provide different levels of emotional and functional social support, which has been shown to be related to mortality. Social ties during midlife are important to help us understand premature mortality."

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