It turns out that men have more to gain than women do when it comes to being married.
At least, as far as their health is concerned.
If you’re a single lady who’s currently questioning your marital status, you can feel better about the fact that single women don’t suffer the same negative health effects as unmarried men.
For years, research studies have shown that married people experience better health than unmarried people, with marriage seen as beneficial for a variety of physical and psychological reasons. For example, it was believed that wives keep their men physically fit and encourage things like regular visits to the doctor. Women were thought to benefit emotionally by being married.
But now – thanks to landmark research by University College London, the London School of Economics – it seems the only ones to truly benefit health-wise from marriage are men (so you may want to send a memo to that perpetual bachelor you know).
Researchers found that middle-aged women who had never been married had the same chance of developing metabolic syndrome (a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity) as married women.
Though the unmarried women did show slightly higher levels of a biomarker that indicates a heightened risk of breathing problems, it was much lower than the risk of illness detected in unmarried men. The same findings were true when it came to a biomarker for heart problems. The risk was increased 14 per cent in men, but was virtually undetectable in women.
In divorced women, the findings were similar. Actually, women who got divorced in their mid to late 20s had 31 per cent lower odds of metabolic syndrome, compared to those who stayed married.
The research showed that getting divorced didn’t have a detrimental effect on future health for either sex as long as they found a new long-term relationship. Meaning, people who experience separation, divorce, and remarriage, have similar levels of health in middle age to those who are married. The same was found for those in co-habitating relationships.
So, while there was a small health impact for men who have never been married, a long-term relationship is enough to keep people healthy. The whole exchanging of vows is pretty much a mere formality when it comes to your health.
It should be noted that the study found that women who had married in their late 20s or early 30s and remained married had the best health in midlife.
The researchers analyzed information on more than 10,000 people who were born in England, Scotland, and Wales in the same week in 1958, controlling for things like early-life and early-adulthood characteristics.