In case you need another reason to hate Valentine's Day, the University of Missouri has some exciting news for you. Christine Proulx, an assistant professor in the department of human development and family studies, has discovered that happily married old people are healthier than divorced or widowed old people.
Yep, that's right. If you'd only get married -- and stay married -- you'd be guaranteed a longer, happier, less-neurotic life. If you can't hack it, or if you have the misfortune to have your spouse die on you, you'll find yourself sick and alone and you might as well be banished to the forest to be devoured by wild beasts because nobody loves you.
It's been scientifically proven, and who can argue with Science?
Proulx's study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, examined data from 707 continuously-married adults who participated in a twenty-year national project called the Marital Instability Over the Life Course panel study. She found that people who reported having happier marriages also reported better health. (Note: It's not clear whether those people actually were healthier, but they thought they were.)
"We often think about the aging process as something we can treat medically with a pill or more exercise, but working on your marriage also might benefit your health as you age," Proulx said in a statement. "Engaging with your spouse is not going to cure cancer, but building stronger relationships can improve both people's spirits and well-being and lower their stress."
Loving spouses, Proulx noted, would also be more likely to take care of their husband or wives when they're ill or remind them to eat properly, take their medicine, schedule doctor's appointments and all that other stuff that is, in the vernacular, referred to as "nagging."
A caveat: Most of the people in this study were Caucasian, had some education beyond high school and had a family income greater than $55,000 in 2000. In other words, these are people who are more likely to take care of their health anyway (not to mention have insurance).
But whatever. It's just another reason to feel depressed today if you don't happen to be happily married. Thanks, Mizzou!