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While marriage can be good for you in a lot of ways – someone to share the financial burdens, a partner in taking out the trash, a standing Friday-night movie date on the couch – the effects on your health aren’t always positive, particularly when it comes to your waistline.

Reports suggest that married folks pack on the pounds when compared to their unmarried peers. One report suggests that newlyweds who are satisfied in their marriage gain weight in the early years after swapping vows.

It may not be just a few pounds, either, as marriage actually increases obesity rates. With all of the research out there, I went about finding some of the health benefits of that old ball-and-chain.

One factor seemed to stand out over and over again: marital conflict can lead to poorer health, and happier marriages make for healthier people. But weight aside, studies supporting the benefits of marriage on health abound. Click through for 7 surprising health benefits of being married!

You’re Less Likely To Die Prematurely
Getting hitched might just make you last longer at the game of life. In one study, those who never married were more than twice as likely to die early than those who had been in a stable marriage throughout their adult life. Being single, or losing a partner without replacement, increased the risk of early death during middle age and reduced the likelihood that one would survive to be elderly.

Bypass Success
Those who are happily wedded who undergo coronary bypass surgery are more than three times as likely to be alive 15 years later as their unmarried counterparts, according to one study. The effect of marital satisfaction turned out to be as important as other risk factors like tobacco use, obesity, and high blood pressure. This effect is especially interesting for women, as unhappy marriages provide almost no survival bonus for women, but happy marriages increase the female survival rate almost fourfold.

Less Stroke Risk
Marriage can cut down your risk of stroke – at least if you’re a man. In one study, single men had a 64 percent higher risk of fatal stroke than married men. Interestingly, the 3.6 percent of men who were unhappily married also had a 64 percent higher risk of fatal stroke compared to those happily married

Lower Risk For Heart Attacks
Love can be good for your heart! According to research, being hitched can reduce the risk of heart attacks for both men and women. It can reduce the risk of heart attack, and should one occur, marriage and cohabiting are associated with better prognosis following an acute coronary event.

Mental Health Boost
Marriage can be good for your mental health! (Insert joke here about a spouse driving you crazy.) But really, literature suggests that being married or cohabiting is associated with a delay in a first episode of psychosis for those with schizophrenia, a higher quality of life and is a predictor of remission within a year of that episode. One study suggested that those who became widowed or divorced experienced a significant decline in mental health. Those who married during the study reported a decrease in symptoms of depression and alcohol abuse.

You’re Less Likely to Develop a Chronic Condition
Married people are less likely to develop chronic conditions, compared to unmarried counterparts, studies show. One expert says that people who have happy marriages are more likely to rate their health as better as they age.

You’ll Have A Better Shot At Kicking Cancer
Should you be diagnosed with cancer, you might live longer than those who aren’t married. Married patients tend to be diagnosed earlier and live longer after diagnosis, according to one study. The findings were consistent across various cancers. It appears that social support from the spouse drives improvement. Another study supports this finding, as married men and women with colon cancer were 14 percent less likely to die than other colon cancer patients.


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