Health & Wellness Articles

The Surprising Health Benefits of Being in Love

How Positive Relationships Boost Wellness

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When I was newly home from graduate school and working my first full-time job, finding a husband and starting a family seemed to be the next expected step in the progression toward adulthood. I was looking forward to having someone to share my life with—someone to be a steady roommate, a sharer of responsibilities, and a traveling buddy for my then-infrequent vacations. Certainly prime on my mind was finding a suitable father for the kids I hoped to have in the future. Getting married would also eliminate the constant nagging of my mom and other relatives, who constantly pointed out that I wasn't getting any younger. (Ironically, I was married at 24, a mere child compared to the average marrying age today!)
 
Luckily for me, I did find the right guy, and all the advantages I'd anticipated did come along with the marriage package. However, I never considered that being married would be good for my health, too.  When scientific research began to appear touting the health benefits of being married, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that being married is also just one more way I'm improving my health.
 
We humans are hard-wired for social connection, and we all possess a basic need to belong and to be loved. For many people in today's world, the need to marry young has been trumped by climbing the career ladder, and being in a committed relationship doesn’t necessarily mean tying the knot. But despite that, most (but not all) still harbor a strong desire to be in a romantic relationship.
 
And it's no wonder why we seek out romance: When we find that special connection, positivity flows, and your nervous system is flooded with feel-good hormones. Dopamine, one of the hormones triggered when individuals are in love, evokes feelings of pleasure, optimism, energy and a sense of well-being. Physical touch, such as hugging, hand-holding and having sex, releases oxytocin, which lowers stress hormones. Research shows that those who experience these positive emotions associated with love have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, greater resistance to the common cold, faster recovery after illness and injury, and decreased anxiety and depression. 
 
In 2007, the Department of Health and Human Services put out a report of their findings after reviewing the research on the health effects of matrimony. It stated that married people are happier, live longer, drink less and even visit the doctor less often than unmarried folks. Married couples tend to have health insurance, which encourages preventative care and healthy behaviors. Additionally, married couples are more financially stable, which reduces stress. A 2004 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found that mortality rates were lowest in married couples. (Note: Although much of this research has looked at the effects of love on married couples, there is no reason to think that those in a positive and committed--yet unmarried--relationship wouldn’t enjoy these same benefits.)
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About The Author

Ellen Goldman Ellen Goldman
Ellen Goldman has bachelor's and master's degrees in health and physical education. An AFAA-certified personal trainer and certified wellness coach, she is also the founder EnerG Coaching, LLC. Through one-on-one and group sessions, Ellen helps individuals make positive lifestyle changes, lose weight, manage stress and attain work-life balance. Visit her at www.EnerGcoaching.com.

Member Comments

  • I believe that it is the way we are supposed to be. - 3/2/2014 6:42:33 AM
  • Fantastic article! Happy Valentine's Day!!
    - 2/14/2014 8:42:45 AM
  • The title of this article is misleading and its scope i limiting. It claims that love is good for you, but this article is all about why people should be married. Those are not the same thing! Love is much bigger than just romance. I'm happily single, but I still have love in my life through my friends, family and church family. - 2/13/2014 4:58:34 PM
  • I have been married for only 11 years and my hubby still brings me happiness. I think about my sister and a whole bunch of girls telling me (repeatedly) that it is because I am just a newlywed and that I would learn with time. Well, here is the news...

    First, I have a list of the things that I love about my hubby INSTEAD OF HIS FAULTS. I kept the letters that he wrote me when we were dating and reading them again keeps my love for him strong. He does wonderful things for me, so I try to make him as comfortable as possible. Now I have another love... a little girl who is sweet and affectionate.

    I can see why being in love can make your life better. If getting married took time off my life, it would be worth it. My time on the world is so much better since I have someone to share it with... actually two people. - 1/29/2014 9:02:46 AM
  • Much food for thought. - 9/28/2013 6:12:38 AM
  • Some really interesting info in there.
    Hubby and I have been through some iffy patches, but we've been able to keep working together and staying together. i thank God that we were both brought up in the tradition of working to make things work! And that it has all worked out for us.
    We met just over 42 years ago, September 1971, at university. Got engaged in April 74. Then married March 78.
    We weren't going to have children, but first son came along 1 May 1988. We neither of us wanted an only child if possible, so 2nd son arrived 1990, a few weeks after my 37th birthday.
    I had my 60th birthday 2 days ago (Friday), and hubby, both boys and older son's partner were all here for a meal last night. And it was my own choice to have the meal here rather than eating out.

    Yes, a lot of hard work, loads of biting the tongue, some major arguments - on both sides. But overall we've been OK, sometimes even happy, that we are still together and intend to remain so. - 9/22/2013 5:34:00 PM
  • Loss my husband two years ago, I fell very lonely but I do my best to stay active and keep in touch with my friends. - 9/21/2013 10:42:34 AM
  • KAMDRYZ
    I disagree that committed, yet unmarried couples would receive the same benefits. If they were committed, they would be married! I also don't think those who aren't currently in a positive marriage should feel "doomed". Perhaps it could just be a goal to work for and something to look forward to. - 9/21/2013 9:33:34 AM
  • Great info. I love for someone to love me and I love them back. But I just love everyone even if they don't love me. That's me. - 9/8/2013 6:25:36 PM
  • I agree with SASSIISSAS that this is a very limiting article. I haven't been in a committed relationship for about 2 decades, and having gone through a divorce, know the downside of such relationships. I have plenty of friends and family to love, I am professionally employed with a good salary and benefits, and have no financial worries. Don't get me wrong, "if" the right person came along, I would consider such a relationship. I just don't see the point of "trying" to find a mate. I always said if God wanted me to re-marry, he would send someone my way. He hasn't, so single I will happily remain! - 7/24/2013 8:51:05 PM
  • "Although much of this research has looked at the effects of love on married couples, there is no reason to think that those in a positive and committed--yet unmarried--relati
    onship wouldn’t enjoy these same benefits."

    Lol it is funny how these unions are always compared to married one. Must be b/c married ones are some how more significant. - 2/21/2013 11:22:47 PM
  • This blog just makes me very sad. Reciprocal love seems pretty much out of my reach. Loving and not being loved back is not good for your health. - 2/12/2013 8:42:05 PM
  • This is great information. - 2/12/2013 7:47:21 PM
  • Being in love doesn't mean one has to have a sexual partner or life mate. Many who are single - including me - love very much, very deep, those who are in our lives . We love, we connect and we have support. To read this article, if one isn't in a committed relationship then one has a much harder time to be healty and lose weight - that is a fallacy. It is important to have connections in life, there are many psychological issues that can arise if one lives completely in solitude. Those same research reports also connect love with animals, with nature and the universe - for those who live on own, out in the bush, miles from others and are very content with their lives. Love is a deep subject and is not limited to physical sexual connections or life partners. If that is the only focus, that is called obession - love knows no boundaires, nor should it. This article is extremely limiting. - 2/12/2013 2:10:05 PM
  • It sounds like those of us who remain unloved are doomed. I wish the article had mentioned that aspect as many people have no one to care about them. - 2/12/2013 10:24:53 AM

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