Why Monogamy is Good for Your Health
Allison Bush | Sept 27, 2012
Bachelors and bachelorettes my scoff at the word monogamy, but the truth is that it’s good for your overall health. Unfortunately, men and women don’t benefit from monogamy - or even marriage - equally, but it’s still worthwhile to give it a shot, for more reasons than one.
Longer life span
A major 2007 study in seven Eurpopean countries found husbands and wives over the age of 40 were 10-15 percent less likely to die prematurely than the population as a whole.
Michael Murphy, Ph.D., a professor of demography at the London School of Economics and the lead author of the 2007 study, also said that marriage is especially good at warding off fatal accidents, violence, and other semi-avoidable calamities.
Bye-bye, bad habits
Unmarried men tend to lead less healthy lifestyles than unmarried women and are more apt to smoke, drink too much, and indulge in other vices.
A 2006 study that tracked the substance-use patterns of thousands of young people before and after marriage found that men scaled back their binge drinking and marijuana use after they got married. Women also would binge drink less once they were married.
Ward off disease
Rates of diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, lung disease, and other chronic ailments are all lower in married people than in unmarried people.
A study of 8,652 people ages 51 to 61 found that those who were divorced or widowed—and had not remarried—had 20 percent more chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer, and 23 percent more mobility problems, such as trouble climbing stairs, compared to married couples.
Marriage is good for mental health, especially for women. Married women tend to exhibit fewer instances of depression and those with bipolar disorder tend to experience fewer manic episodes. However, not all relationships are good for you—single people can have better mental health than married people in strained relationships.
For men, being in a committed relationship may curb their stress response. A 2010 experiment found that men in relationships had smaller spikes in cortisol levels than single men after taking part in a competitive game, whereas single and “taken” ladies had comparable cortisol increases.
More satisfying sex (for men, at least)
In a landmark national sex survey conducted in the 1990s, 49% of married men said they were extremely emotionally satisfied with their sex life, compared to just 33% of men who were unmarried or not living with a partner. On the other hand, only 42% of married women were extremely satisfied with their sex lives, compared to 31% of women who didn’t live with a partner.