9 Ways Having A Partner Makes Life Better
Attention, everyone who's lucky enough to be in a stable relationship right now: Great news! We have scientific proof that your relationship status is good for you. "A happy relationship does all kinds of positive things for our body and state of mind," says Karen Sherman, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in relationship matters.
Exactly how does having a loving partner make life rosier? Let us count the ways:
It Makes You Richer
How's this for a reason to say "I do": Just by tying the knot, you'll get richer. Journal of Sociology authors found that marrieds boosted their wealth by four percent each year, amounting to about $43,000 by their tenth wedding anniversary. Meanwhile, singles averaged a mere $11,000 after 15 years. The reason? Sharing expenses and household duties allowed couples to accumulate more.
It Lowers Your Stress
When the going gets tough, people in stable relationships keep it together better than singles. University of Chicago scientists studying hormonal responses to psychological stress discovered that singles had significantly higher levels of cortisol than marrieds did. Since cortisol is the fight-or-flight hormone we're born with to help us run fast from predators (or cope with modern-day stressors), this suggests that the unattached buckle under pressure a lot faster than those with partners.
It Protects Your Heart
Having a partner you "heart" even has a physiological benefit. Married survivors of coronary bypass surgery are three times more likely than unmarrieds to be alive and thriving 15 years later. The higher survival rate seems to be linked to being happily wedded, according to University of Rochester researchers.
It Makes Your Wounds Heal Faster
It sounds crazy, but science swears it is true: If you have a significant other, it appears that you'll heal from cuts faster. Being in love boosts your plasma levels of the hormone oxytocin. Called a "love hormone" because of the role it plays in orgasms, sexual chemistry and even maternal bonding, oxytocin also has anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, the faster mending.
It Foils Depression
Happy couples reportedly have the blues less often than singles or those in bad relationships, according to a 17-year study conducted by University of Basel researchers. The study's authors found that participants who had long-term partners they were satisfied with had higher spirits than those who were unattached. For what it's worth, women especially seem to benefit emotionally from pairing up. The brain chemical dopamine, released when you're in love and linked to those unmistakable butterflies you get in your tummy when you're around The One, appears to be the reason for the long-term high.
It Helps You Live Longer
Get hitched, and you could reduce your chance of dying young by 15 percent -- or so say researchers from Cardiff University, who reviewed 148 studies of social relationships. Solid partnerships provide positive emotional support; similarly, stability inspires people to eschew risky behaviors (think: everything from riding motorcycles to smoking cigs) and take on healthier ones.
It Helps You Clean Up Your Act
Speaking of risky business, having a long-term partner tends to keep alcohol abuse and the use of illicit drugs to a minimum, according to research published in the scientific journal Demography. Guess when there's someone to come home to each night, you don't feel the need to stay for last call at the bar.
It Helps You Make Better Investments
Looking to study investment behaviors, Italian scientists learned that marrieds tend to build their wealth more successfully than singles: They put more of their money in better-performing stocks than more slowly accruing bank CDs. Once you're in a stable relationship, you tend to plan more effectively for your future.
It Reduces Your Number Of Doctor Visits
Thanks to all the clean living that pairing up seems to promote, people in long-term partnerships schedule fewer doctor appointments than singles. Seems caring for someone else inspires you to eat better, quit bad habits and plan for the future -- and all of those lifestyle changes add up to fewer trips to the M.D. Who doesn't love that?