A Happy Marriage = A Healthier Heart?
Can giving your heart away actually make it stronger and result in your living longer? Well, it didn’t work too well for Romeo and Juliette but studies show that in the real world, unlike the fictional one created by Shakespeare, this can actually be the case! A recent study from the University of Rochester has revealed that the long term health of happily married patients who have undergone coronary bypass surgery shows that they are three times as likely to live longer, stronger lives compared to unmarried patients.
Kathleen King, professor emerita at the University of Rochester’s School of Nursing, and author of the study, said that “there is something in a good relationship that helps people stay on track.” While her co-author, Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University did note the importance of focusing on other well known risk factors such as tobacco use, obesity, and high blood pressure, he was quick to add that according to the study, a happy marriage was “every bit as important to survival after bypass surgery.”
Just as Mom, Dad, or our science teachers pointed out the differences between boys and girls, the study also found some gender related differences among those in the test group evaluated in this study. The research study followed the lives of 225 people who’d had bypass surgery between the years 1987 and 1990. Among the men studied, it seemed that there was a direct correlation between the degree of general marital satisfaction and the higher degree of long term health. On the other hand, among the women tracked in the study, the higher degree of long term health seemed to be most strongly linked to the quality of the relationship, resulting in nearly four times the survival rate of their less happily married counterparts.
Fifteen years after their surgery, 83 percent of the happily married women were still survivors, while unhappily married women made up 28 percent and just 27 percent of the unmarried women were still living. Among the men tracked over the same 15 year period after their surgery, the differences in survival rates among the more happily married males at 83 percent versus those in less satisfying relationships was less significant. This study was published in Health Psychology by the American Psychological Association.