What Has Love got to do with it???
So what do we really know about the benefits of marriage, love and/or a committed relationship? Where are the arguments for a stable relationship? One argument that we might not think about too often is better health. Not surprisingly, there are positive health benefits to a happy relationship, especially a happy marriage. Research has shown that stress is lowered if we have someone we can turn to for emotional support or advice ( Holt-Lunstad, 2007). The same study determined that people who are happily married have lower blood pressure than the unmarried, but those who are unhappy in marriage have the highest blood pressures of all.
The Department of Health and Human Services has also researched the benefits of marriage and found that people who are happily married live longer, drink less, and have fewer medical appointments. Loving spouses also reinforce healthy behaviors such as exercise and healthy eating and discourage unhealthy ones like heavy drinking. A study done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported that hugging and handholding have been found to release oxytocin, which lowers stress hormones in the body. Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that those who are happy and in emotionally stable relationships experience more positive emotions and are more resistant to feeling anxious, depressed and even have fewer colds!
Romantic relationships enhance our lives and can provide a sense of meaning and purpose. For those who are not in love right now, there is still good news. Healthy social connections to others can improve the odds of survival by 50%. All in all, the evidence is clear that it is better to be connected to others and love is a prescription for better health!