Smoking is a well known health hazard. Smokers suffer higher mortality rates than the general population, and as social pressures are applied, smoking continues to decline among Americans. Not as well known is the cost of divorce, which turns out to be about as dangerous for men as starting a pack-a-day smoking habit.
Said another way, remaining married has as much protective effect on male health as not smoking. Unmarried women have a 50% higher mortality rate than married women, and the difference for men is an astonishing 250%. Social pressures that protect men and women by lifting up marriage are needed as well, it seems.
Not only does marriage protect life, it also promotes health. Married people rate their health substantially higher than the divorced, separated or widowed.
Men are more prone to risky behaviors and marriage has a settling effect on them. Women tend to lead more settled lives to begin with so the marriage health benefit is not as immediate for them. But for both sexes, the benefits of marriage are strikingly clear.
While it seems reasonable that cohabitation would confer many of the same health benefits, research suggests that it does not. Simply said, unmarried partners in general do not feel as responsible for the well being of their partners and they do not exhibit the same healthy behaviors as marrieds.
Decades of research now make clear: the statistical chances for a longer and healthier life are significantly greater in marriage than any other state of relationship.
After 45 years of marriage this spring, I can attest to this. My wonderful wife has championed my health even more than I have, as I have hers.