The spousal effect

Happily married people live longer, enjoy better health

There are clear benefits to staying single, like, for example, doing whatever the heck you want all of the time. However, research shows that happily married people—or those with successful long-term partnerships outside of marriage—live longer and enjoy better physical and mental health compared with people who stay single long-term. So, what’s behind the so-called marriage protection hypothesis? According to Berkeley Wellness, a collaboration of UC Berkeley School of Public Health and a team of national writers, probably a variety of factors. At the most basic level, your spouse likely reminds you to wear a helmet, buckle your seat belt, get a mammogram or colonoscopy and to substitute salad for fries. And when it comes to stress-management, a good partner provides a shoulder to lean on. Just talking about a rough day at work makes it seem more manageable and relieves the weight. But remember: An unhappy relationship doesn’t provide health protections and actually adds more stress to your life.