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March 15, 2012 at 1:21 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Why A Late Marriage Can Benefit Your Health

By Jeany Miller More Blogs by This Author

Americans today still seem to be pondering the idea of marriage. Throughout the media and even in real-world conversations, people continue to ask if this union is better formed at an early age or later in life.

Currently, the median age of marriage in America is 26 for women and 28 for men. While an increasingly vocal group argues the delay of marriage promotes premarital sex and cohabitation, other people believe that later-in-life marriages are beneficial.

So who’s right?                                                   

From a moral perspective, delayed marriages probably do encourage behaviors like premarital sex and even promiscuity. In some instances, however, people engage in these activities with an eye toward marriage, kind of like testing the water before jumping in. With this in mind, cohabitation and premarital sex aren’t necessarily helpful for stable unions, but they may in fact prevent marriages, that otherwise would end in divorce. And divorce is directly linked to health in many negative ways.

According to researchers, divorced middle-aged women are 60 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease than women who remain married. This is largely because divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can endure in life. Divorced women also have the lowest household incomes in comparison to married women, widows, and women who remarry. Constant worry about finances can augment emotional stress and harm cardiovascular health. Moreover, the effects of divorce linger long after the event’s conclusion.

On the other hand, delaying marriage actually reduces the probability of divorce. Straight through the 20s, every year a person waits makes a small difference in preventing eventual divorce.

Putting off wedded bliss also means people have a chance to finish college and find stable employment. Research shows college graduates are more likely to enjoy stable marriages than less educated Americans. All in all, this evidence is conclusively positive.

In terms of health, married people live longer than their divorced counterparts. They have lower rates of heart failure and cancer, develop expanded networks of social support and have more frequent sex. While the reasons for this are not fully understood, researchers do understand that a solid marriage benefits partners in multiple ways.

This is not to say, however, that any marriage is better than none, which is why waiting to select the “perfect” mate might be for the best.

I strongly promote the idea of waiting to get married. I don’t say this to offend anyone’s moral or religious beliefs, but I think that getting married at age 20 can be heartbreakingly difficult (I know these relationships are sometimes successful, however). Not only do people change as they grow older, but they also sometimes grow apart, rather than grow together.

When I was at the ripe ol’ age of 18, I met a guy who seemed like a dream come true. We dated for five tumultuous years, two of which we lived together. Had we gotten married without cohabitating, the consequences would have been dire. Each of us are headstrong and stubborn, so the potential involvement of children and joint property would have meant long, drawn-out court battles, since we likely wouldn’t have lasted had we gotten married. Thankfully for both of us, however, we chose not to marry at a young age, and saved each other much possible stress and setbacks.

In short, waiting to get married gives us all a chance to mature and find comfort in our own skin. We can slough off old insecurities, graduate from college, establish a career, and find time in-between for developing our individual identity, and just enjoying the single life. And when the right person does come along, we can enjoy the health benefits of a stable, secure marriage.

Photo Credit: Beach-Wedding-Marg and Wedding Rings UK

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