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Does happily married also mean healthier?

Many folks are skipping marriage these days, but a new study shows that happily married couples consider themselves healthier than their unmarried peers.

A University of Missouri assistant professor found that, in all stages of marriage, positive or negative relationships affect a person's perception of his or her health. In other words, cool it with the unnecessary arguments.

"Engaging with your spouse is not going to cure cancer, but building stronger relationships can improve both people's spirits and well-being and lower their stress," said Christine Proulx, who analyzed data from more than 700 married people.

So, is the study accurate?

"I know from experience that being in an unhappy marriage can be very unhealthy physically and mentally for a person. I was in an unhappy marriage for 19 years and paid the price for it with my health," said Suzanne Cordner, an Ohio woman who is now remarried. "The stress I was under created havoc in my body. It weakened my immune system, leading to many illnesses, and I still, to this day 14 years later, have medical issues that I need to see a doctor every week for."

Proulx suggested health professionals consider a patient's personal relationship when designing a treatment plan.

"I suspect we'd have higher rates of adherence if medical professionals placed more of an emphasis on incorporating families and spouses in patients' care," she said.

Becky Costello of Akron has been widowed for two years. She and Tim were married 36 years. It wasn't a perfect marriage, but Tim was perfect for her.

"During my period of acute grief, I was not as robustly healthy as I had been prior to Tim's death,'' she said. She didn't eat or sleep well, and could not feel joy and hope as she once had.

"But I know the happiness from loving Tim and being his wife was still in my heart even during the time of acute grief. And as I worked through the acute grief, I began to reconnect to those feelings, including the happiness and love from our marriage, which remain with me to this day."

KEYS TO HAPPINESS

Kathaleen Stevenson, an Ohio counselor, notes that whether single or married, the happiest people:

Don't keep grudges. They forgive easily and wisely, keeping healthy relationships by being active participants in creating positive interactions.

Have a sense of purpose for their lives, engaging outside of their relationships to contribute to the greater good, thus enriching their relationships and personal joy.

Do not accept any form of abusiveness in their relationships.

Follow the Serenity Prayer, which says, "God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

Does happily married also mean healthier? 04/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 1:31am]
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