Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
If you thought being in a loving, committed relationship would solve all your problems, think again. While marriage has historically been linked to better overall health, the "protective effect" seems to be weakening, reports a new study published in Social Science Quarterly.
The study compared the self-reported health of married people in 1955 and 1984, which showed that "while older generations see improved overall health with marriage, the effect has deteriorated over time," writes The Science of Us. What's more is that this "protective edge" only existed in marriages lasting 10 years or longer and was more pronounced among women (presumably due to the economic security that it used to provide, which women can now access on their own).
The researchers admit that the specifics of the study relating to "overall health" remain unclear, but an increased risk of weight gain after tying the knot was mentioned. They speculate that marriage has become more stressful for many, which takes a toll on couples' health.
"Work-family conflict has increased in the closing decades of the 20th century, and spouses' actual time spent together has decreased over this period," explains Dmitry Tumin, study author and sociologist. "Against a backdrop of greater demands at home and at work and less time spent together, today's married couples may indeed experience marriage more as a source of conflict and stress than as a resource that safeguards their health."
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