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Marriage, Health and Healing (Marriage Research Report 2)

By April 12, 2013Blog

Does marriage help us to heal?  It would appear it does!

Did you know that you are more likely to heal if you have a spouse around?  Well, research by Idler et al. (2012) found that unmarried people who underwent heart surgery were almost twice as likely to have died during the five years after the surgery had taken place, than their married counterparts.

Similar results were found for separated, divorced, widowed, and never-married patients.

The risk of immediate post-surgery death was actually more than three times higher for unmarried patients compared with married patients!

The sample consisted of 569 people and upon evaluating previous research in the field, the researchers state: “One of the most well-studied and consistent findings in social science has been the association of marriage with greater survival.”

The researchers also note the review conducted by Manzoli et al. (2007).  In the review, they looked at 40 studies from Europe, East Asia, South Asia, United States, Israel and Australia.  The total sample was 256,243 older people.  From their analyses they concluded that there was a 12% lower mortality rate for those married, than for their unmarried counterparts.

Similar results have been found in other studies that assess mortality rates in younger married and unmarried people.

There are various factors we could attribute to these findings, including but not limited to:

  • married people have a spouse to assist with health care around the home;
  • married people may feel they have more of a purpose to live (a psychological desire to keep going);
  • married people may feel they have a duty to live (to be around for their spouse);
  • married people may be more likely to have a better diet at home for a number of reasons;
  • married people have a support network to keep morale high (psychological well being does impact our physical health);
  • married people may indulge in less risky behaviours;
  • married people more likely to experience physical touch more frequently and this actually releases the hormone oxytocin which makes us feel less stressed and helps promote trust and bonding, which of course impacts your psychological well being which in turn affects your physical health.

It would appear marriage has long been seen as a great remedy for ill health, and if you are married.  If you or your spouse is ill or due to go for a major operation, be sure to utilise some of the above to assist healing and longevity.



Idler, E. L., Boulifard, D. A., & Contrada, R. J. (2012). Mending Broken Hearts : Marriage and Survival Following Cardiac Surgery. lJournal of Health and Social Behaviour, 53, 133-49.

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