It is probably worth it to make the effort to say "I do," as experts in Great Britain suggest in a review that, on average, married people live longer and men enjoy better physical health, while women enjoy better mental health.
The review, which looked at 148 studies and was published in the British Medical Journal Thursday, concludes that the reason men enjoy better health when married is their partner's positive influence on lifestyle. The mental health bonus for women, the researchers say, may be because women place great value on the importance of the relationship itself.
The most widely accepted explanation for marriage being a good thing is that being in a committed relationship means better social support is available. It starts with the spouse and expands to a network of supportive relationships from there, the study suggested.
Researchers David and John Gallacher at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, Wales, concluded that marriage and other forms of partnership can be placed along a sliding scale of commitment, with greater commitment conferring greater benefit.
A downside of romance, noted the researchers, is that young love is associated with increased depressive symptoms. But that gets a little better as a person matures.
Benefits of marriage get better over time
Romantic relationships among those 18-25 are associated with better mental health, but not better physical health.
"It seems a degree of maturity is required before Cupid is likely to bring a net health benefit," the researchers said.
Not all relationships are beneficial the overview study concludes.
"Difficult and strained relationships in both the short and long term are consistently shown to have a negative impact on mental health, and the ending of a strained relationship brings mental health benefits."
A final conclusion of the study is that exclusive and supportive relationships confer substantial mental and physical health benefits that grow over time. And, the Gallacher brothers say, "although failure of a relationship can harm health, that is an argument for avoiding a bad relationship, rather than not getting into a relationship at all."
Civil partnerships should theoretically offer the same benefits as heterosexual partnerships in terms of social support, but more research is needed on this, the study's authors said.
‘It’s Just Not Right’Elizabeth Marquardt 01.26.2011, 10:27 AM
Earlier today, First Lady Michelle Obama sent this letter to military families and military family service organizations. We wanted to share it with you as part of our commitment to serve to our military families.
On Thursday, I am joining some amazing military families on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and I hope you are able to watch.
I was so glad to share with Oprah and her viewers some of the stories I have heard over the past few years from service members and their families. Their strength, courage, and willingness to sacrifice without complaint is truly awe inspiring. As you know, military families don�t often ask for help, because they are trained to buckle down and make it through. That is why all Americans have a responsibility to lift up these remarkable families and encourage them to tell their stories. One of my heroes joined us in the studio, and as you will see her personal journey sheds light on the unique issues our military families face as onlyher storycan. I also had the opportunity to announce that Dr. Jill Biden and I are launching a major initiative in March where we will ask the country to take action in supporting military families.
This appearance marks only the beginning of our efforts to encourage all sectors of our society to help address the needs and tap the potential of our troops and their families. Please know that Jill and I will continue to lend our voices to these issues and work to ensure all military families have the support they have earned.
I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead. I wish you all the best.
First Lady of the United States
What, Me Care? Young Are Less Empathetic
By Jamil Zaki
A recent study finds a decline in empathy among young people in the U.S.
When Was Your Last One Night Stand?
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