The Health Benefits of a Long Term Relationship

By: Bel Marra Health | Brain Function | Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 10:30 AM

health benefits of long term relationshipLong term relationships can be difficult at times and if you’ve been with the same partner for years, you may find the thought of the “single life” appealing.  You may feel that being single will add some fun and excitement into your life and this may leave you thinking about ditching your long term relationship for the single life.  But, before you do consider this – being in a long term, committed relationship (with the right person) provides you with many health benefits, including living a longer life, among others.

Decreased Stress, Anxiety & Depression

Married couples, as well as those in long term committed relationships, have lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression compared to their single counterparts. There are a variety of reasons why individuals in committed relationships have lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression.  The first reason may be laughter.  While it may seem simple, sometimes laughter really is the best medicine! 

If you’re in a relationship with a partner that makes you laugh, keep them close.  Laughter has a number of health benefits, including decreased stress and anxiety. Laughing reduces the stress on your body by helping you to relax. In addition to the mental health benefits, laughing also helps to release “feel good” chemicals (called endorphins) that help to improve your mood, boost your immune system and help to protect against cardiovascular disease.

Another Reason for Lower Levels of Stress and Anxiety

Another reason for lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression in committed couples may be due to the social connection and support that they receive from one another. Married people know that they have a loving partner that they can trust and rely on during difficult times.  This support can help to reduce the stress and anxiety that an individual may experience during hard times.  Additionally, individuals who are married always have someone to spend their time with, so stress and anxiety caused by loneliness is less likely to happen. Also, when you’ve been with a person for a long time, you no longer have to stress about how to impress them, you can just be yourself. Lastly, many people fear the future, which can ultimately lead to stress and anxiety.  Being in a long term relationship can help to minimize these worries because you know that you will have a partner for any unexpected circumstances that may arise.

Many Health Benefits of Marriage

There are many health benefits of marriage, including a decreased risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, depression as well as a lower risk of heart and lung disease.  Additionally, there is a reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases if the long term relationship is monogamous.

The single life may seem appealing, being able to jump into bed with a new partner whenever you feel like it, but married people tend to have a better sex life.  Married couples not only have more sex, they have more satisfying sex than their single counterparts.

Positive Behaviour Changes are Partially Responsible for Health Benefits

According to WebMD, individuals who are married tend to engage in safer behaviours and this may be one of the reasons that committed couples experience so many health benefits.  Married people are less likely to take part in risky behaviour including drinking and driving as well as drug use.  Married people also have another person who’s looking out for their health. This means that they have a partner that suggests that they should eat right, exercise, attend doctor’s appointments, etc. Also, married individuals are more likely to follow their doctor’s orders.  All of these behaviours may be responsible for providing individuals in committed relationships with so many health benefits.

RELATED READING: Do Married People Really Live Longer?

The research supports the fact that there are health benefits of being in a long term committed relationship. The health benefits are not limited to married couples; individuals in long term relationships also experience the health benefits, but not to the same degree that married couples do. This doesn’t mean that you should stay in an unhappy relationship; however, it does mean that you shouldn’t jump ship if you’re bored with your current partner.  Try to keep your relationship exciting.  Try new activities with your partner and be adventurous and spontaneous once in a while to keep the spark alive.  Not only will your relationship flourish, you will likely experience some wonderful health benefits.

Related Reading: Seniors: How you can experience more intimacy as you age

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