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Marriage, companionship during midlife raises chance of longer life, study says

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17 2013 9:34 a.m. MST

Being married and having the associated companionship during midlife can raise one's chance of living to be elderly, as opposed to those not married by midlife, according to a recent study from Duke University Medical Center.

Researchers were interested in finding the role marriage — and its timing and status — plays in midlife health benefits. They analyzed data from a heart study with over 4,800 individuals who had been born in the 1940s.

Researchers found that "those who never married were more than twice as likely to die early than those who had been in a stable marriage throughout their adult life," according to a "Science Daily" article.

Additionally, being single, or losing a partner without replacement, not only raised risk of early death during middle age, but also lowered likelihood of a person living to be elderly.

Findings stayed constant, even after taking into account other variables — all personality, behavioral and health-related risk factors — that may also impact risk of death, said a "Newsmax Health" article on the study.

Much of concluded relationship was linked to the companionship associated with marriage, and that not having it can lead to chronic loneliness, a phenomenon among the baby boomer generation, according to Newsmax.

The final results suggest "attention to non-marital patterns of partnership is likely to become more important for these baby boomers," researchers concluded. "These patterns appear to provide different levels of emotional and functional social support, which has been shown to be related to mortality. Social ties during midlife are important to help us understand premature mortality."

However, Markie Blumer, a University of Nevada professor with the marriage and family therapy program, warns against "putting all our eggs in the basket of marriage," though the research is solid.

"As a clinician, this helps me realize that when I'm working with baby boomers, as couples or individuals, I need to make sure they have good social support," Blumer told Newsmax.

This study lends itself to numerous others about marriage and health, including one to find that marriage promotes longevity, over cohabitation. The Huffington Post compiled the top 10 marriage findings of 2012, many of which into expectations and satisfaction surrounding marriage.

Mandy Morgan is an intern for the Deseret News, reporting on issues surrounding both family and values in the media. She is a true-blue Aggie, studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University, and hails from Highland, Utah.

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