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10 Surprising Health Benefits of Love

Lower Blood Pressure, Fewer Colds, Better Stress Management Are Just the Beginning

9. Longer Life

A growing body of research indicates that married people live longer. One of the largest studies examines the effect of marriage on mortality during an eight-year period in the 1990s. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, researchers found that people who had never been married were 58% more likely to die than married people.

Aron tells WebMD marriage contributes to longer life mostly through “mutual practical support, financial benefits, and children who provide support.”

But Reis sees an emotional explanation. Marriage protects against death by warding off feelings of isolation. “Loneliness is associated with all-cause mortality -- dying for any reason,” he says. In other words, married people live longer because they feel loved and connected.

10. Happier Life

It may seem obvious that one of love’s greatest benefits is joy. But research is just beginning to reveal how strong this link can be. A study in the Journal of Family Psychology shows happiness depends more on the quality of family relationships than on the level of income. And so we have scientific evidence that, at least in some ways, the power of love trumps the power of money.

Nurture Your Relationships

To foster a loving relationship that yields concrete benefits, Aron offers four tips:

  • If you are depressed or anxious, get treatment.
  • Brush up on communication skills and learn to handle conflict.
  • Do things that are challenging and exciting with your loved one on a regular basis.
  • Celebrate each other's successes.

This last point is crucial, Aron tells WebMD. Although partners often provide support during a crisis, this support is even more beneficial during good times. As the proverb goes, Shared sorrow is half sorrow; shared joy is double joy.

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Reviewed on January 30, 2009
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