Marriage is good for your health – except when it isn’t

Reports have found that stressful marriages can increase the risk of heart attacks. Why take the chance and walk down the aisle at all?

My first, perhaps superficial, reaction to yet another report claiming that marriage is good for your health – by the Aston Medical School in Birmingham, saying marriage helps to survive diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes – was, why does everything have to be measured in health terms? Try proposing to someone on the grounds of the wellness benefits and see how that goes down.

My second reaction is that there is a big difference between a marriage and a happy marriage. Other studies have shown that a stressful marriage can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. My final reaction was, what is a happy marriage? Because it’s misguided to divide marriages into happy or unhappy. “Happy marriage” has a fairytale ring, implying that after the nuptials are completed, every day will be the first day of spring. No one but an idiot believes this. It’s a very wide spectrum from happy to unhappy.

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Alex Vidal