Occasionally, I see articles on the health benefits of being married.
I roll my eyes. Really?
Stories such as this one in Time say studies prove married people are healthier.
“Decades of data collection have shown that marriage – for all its challenges – is like a health-insurance policy,” it says. “Married people are less likely to smoke or drink heavily than people who are single, divorced or widowed. These sorts of lifestyle changes are known to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory diseases.”
A New York Times article makes the same bold marriage-is-healthy claim.
“Contemporary studies, for instance, have shown that married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer or have heart attacks,” it says.
Who are these researchers? And who are the married people they surveyed?
I’m obviously biased after two divorces, but I see no way I could be healthier and live longer if I were married again. Do you?
In my experience, I was far more stressed when I was married. I had to worry about two adults and their problems, not just one. I know some people have great marriages, and I’m envious.
But I’d say many marriages are marked by conflict, differing expectations, unresolved issues and uneasy truces. And you’re telling me these people are healthier?
I haven’t ruled out marrying again. But I’d marry in spite of the potentially negative effects on my health.
Am I crazy? I don’t think so.
Marriage doesn’t equal health or happiness
Granted, I can see that an anti-social, hermit lifestyle would be harmful to your health. Everyone needs interaction with people who care about them and vice versa. We weren’t meant to live in isolation.
But being single does not mean that you live in isolation. I probably have more friends now that I’m single again. When I was married, I was so focused on my wife and trying to maintain the marriage that I lost contact with some people.
And you call that healthy? I can see that some married people live longer, healthier lives than single people. But I’m sure the reverse is true too.
I get irritated when I heard blanket statements – or survey results – that suggest marriage is intrinsically positive.
“All the health benefits of marriage are consistent across age, race, education and income groups,” the Time article says.
Come on. Is there a marriage conspiracy in our country? Sometimes it seems that way.
Single people – even those who are happy and well-adjusted – are looked at with a little suspicion. What’s wrong with them? Why can’t they find a spouse?
I’m not anti-marriage – at all. But I’m against a prejudice in favor of marriage.
Even some parents, such as myself, have found that we do better raising our child without a spouse.
Don’t tell me that marriage is equated with better health and longer life. Because I don’t believe it.
Get married because you really, really love someone. Don’t get married because you’ll be happier, healthier or less lonely. If you’re single, even as a parent, embrace your life. You may fare much better – and live longer – than if you were married.