From Beyonce to the Queen, there is so much debate around marriage and the ability for some groups to be able to marry, whilst others are restricted. I thought it was important to take a look at this from a health perspective, not just a social one.
For the past several decades, researchers have been looking into the health benefits of marriage, specifically regarding how marriage stands up to other wellness factors such as exercise, eating well and getting sleep. After studying men and women for the past forty years, the evidence according to Linda Waite - a sociologist from the University of Chicago - is so conclusive in the corner of marriage. Waite maintains throughout her research that married life leads to a longer and healthier life than unmarried life. The difference in data is so conclusive that one sociologist has said marriage is as great for your health as giving up smoking.
With this in mind - and with so many organisations, governing bodies and other countries agreeing - why don’t we have marriage equality in Australia? Especially when Australians as a culture are, for the most part, extremely health focused!
Here are 5 health reasons in support of marriage for all.
TIP #1: CHOOSE LIFE
Whilst the reasons for married people living longer are not yet fully understood, the correlation between being married and decreased mortality has been established across a wide range of studies and cultures. This association goes beyond simply cohabitation. Professor Robert Coombs from UCLA found that unmarried people of both sexes have higher death rates across all categories, including accident, disease or self-inflicted. Other studies have found a direct correlation between longevity and the closeness of two people, ranked on a scale from 1 (marriage), 2 (cohabitation), 3 (close friends) and 4 (single). If you’re not the relationship type, find a fun friend to move in with - you'll both live longer.
TIP #2: GETTING HITCHED TO STAY FIT
How many times have you heard “since he/she got married she really let herself go”? Research would be against us showing that married people actually enjoy better physical health, are less likely to have minor illnesses such as colds and flus and recover faster from health issues such as cancer, heart disease and strokes. Some studies have even suggested that getting married can boost your immune system. Not bad for the ol' ball and chain.
TIP #3: THE CRAZY CAT LADY
Was she crazy before the cats, or did the cats make her that way? Several studies of mental illness have shown that married people have lower rates of depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders compared to divorced people, co-habiting people and single people. In fact, when testing neural pathways, some researchers suggested that the overall happiness experienced by marriage was equivalent to receiving a $100,000 pay rise annually. With that amount of happiness, it’s no wonder that couples were found to have less cats.
TIP #4: KICK THE BIG C
Studies have shown that marriage will not only help to prevent cancer, but married patients have also been found across multiple studies to be diagnosed earlier, live longer after diagnosis and found treatment easier. Chronic conditions fare similarly, with patients scoring themselves as being happier and experiencing less severe symptoms if they weren't married.
TIP #5: GET MORE OF THE GOOD STUFF
Contrary to popular 17th century opinion, copulating is not simply for baby making. The health benefits of regular sex - regardless of gender or sexual orientation - are immense. A study from 2010 showed that married couples actually have sex more than their single counterparts, with 82% of married couples having had sex in the past year compared with 49% of single people. Perhaps many of the health benefits of marriage is simply due to the wonders of regular sex with someone you love having a huge impact on your longevity, wellness and happiness.
Lifting the restriction on marriage equality in Australia - and allowing same-sex attracted people to form relationships in many other countries where it is illegal - is not only integral to social justice and protecting the rights of minorities, but as we have read, super important to life itself. Loving relationships of all kinds are far more beneficial than staying in unhealthy and abusive relationships. It doesn't take Einstein to figure out that abusive marriages with perpetrators and victims have the worse health outcomes of all. Friendships if you’re not in a relationship and the communication that comes from it was also found to have significant health benefits.
So whether you’re married, de-facto, thrupling or single ready-to mingle keep those conversations and relationships flowing.