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Healthfully Ever After

Newlywed Groom Kisses a Bride Holding a Bouquet on Her Cheek
Photograph by ThinkStock

A family life researcher at Brigham Young University studied the link between health and marriage for 20 years, and now he’s got something important to tell you: If your marriage stays good, there’s a better chance your health will stay good over the years, too.

Rick Miller’s research utilized data from nearly 1,700 married people over two decades, making it the longest study to date on marital quality and health. First, he and his team assessed how good subjects’ marriages were (based on subjects’ satisfaction and happiness levels, as well as how often they and their spouse fought). Next, they asked respondents to rate the state of their health. The results: The more marital conflicts people had, the poorer their health turned out to be, too.

“There’s evidence from previous research that marital conflict leads to poor health,” says Miller, whose study was published in the June issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family. “But this study also shows happy marriages have a preventative component that keeps you in good health over the years.

“The implication is that marital conflict is a risk factor for poor health,” Miller continued. He and many colleagues believe that health insurance should cover marriage counseling. Proper guidance, their reasoning goes, can patch up a failing relationship and head off health crises in the bargain. Miller hopes the growing body of research on the subject will eventually lead policy-makers to institute changes to the healthcare system.

Previous research has shown that meaningful relationships help people enjoy longer life spans.

SOURCES: BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY; JOURNAL OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY

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