Submitted Date 10/08/2018

You want to reduce your stress level? Try tying the knot; Study finds married people have less stress

Seldom do I hear good things about being married. The divorce rate in America is somewhere between 40 and 50 percent, which means that almost half the married population is stressed out and miserable. But then it also means that the other half of the population lives in less stressful, happy marriages.

Why don’t we hear about the laid-back happily married half? Because we spend our time complaining about what we don’t like to anyone who will listen. It’s human nature. The things that bother us stay predominately on our mind and beg to be shared. Once the frustrations are voiced and discussed, there is seldom time for happy talk. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this article talking about the healthy aspects of marriage.

Personally, I have found marriage to be the most difficult job I have ever had. A lasting marriage is no easy feat and it doesn’t just happen. There are years of giving and giving followed by compromises and frustrations. It takes the commitment of both people to keep the bond intact.

I am 22 years into my marriage and as hard as it has been, it has also been good. When things are not going well either in my own in endeavors or in our marriage, I know that when all is said and done my husband will be standing there at the end of the road and we will move forward together. He may not stand there smiling, but he’s there. Now, it appears that our commitment to the marriage may keep us healthier than our divorce or unmarried counterparts.


Stress, especially prolonged stress, is associated with a higher level of cortisol. High levels of cortisol interfere with the body’s ability to regulate inflammation and thus the development of psychological and physical ailments arise in response.

Elevated cortisol levels impact the body in other ways as well. The release of cortisol into the body increases sugars into the bloodstream and slows the function of nonessential body functions. This is important because in a fight or flight situation you would not want to suddenly have an overwhelming desire for a sandwich or the urge to use the bathroom.

Normally, once the threat has passed the cortisol levels return to normal. However, if you are in a constant state of stress, the release of this hormone stays elevated. Long-term exposure to high levels of cortisol can make your body feel like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, before he got oiled up.

This constant state of stress puts you at risk for several health problems including:

• Digestive problems

• Weight gain

• Anxiety

• Depression

• Sleep disorders

• Headaches

• Heart disease

• Cognitive impairments/impaired memory

If these aren’t enough reasons to act against life’s stressors, then also consider your emotional well-being. Living in a state of frustration and depression seriously lowers quality of life which in turn causes more stress and more unhappiness and more sickness.

Learn healthy ways to control the stress that arises in your life. You can start by putting a smile on your face. Doing so sends signals to your brain that can improve your mood.

Apparently, another thing you can do is get married.

It’s not all bad after all

According to the article in Science Daily, a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University offers the “first biological evidence” that marriage impacts health. Researchers discovered that married people had lower levels of cortisol, (stress hormone) than people who had never married or had been previously married.

The researches collected saliva samples over a three-day period from 572 healthy adults between ages 21-55. The cortisone levels in the saliva were tested at different times during each 24-hour period.

What they found was that married participants had lower cortisol levels than the previously married and never married people over the three-day period. Cortisol levels change throughout the day with the peak time being when you wake then declining as the day goes on. When the groups were compared, married people’s stress hormone declined at a faster rate. Lower cortisol levels, as well as a faster decline of cortisol, has been associated with less heart disease, less physical pain and longer survival among cancer patients.

If you’re happy and you know it…

Now, before anyone says, “what about this or that...” I realize that some people do not get married for whatever reason and live happy satisfying lives. I also know that marriages exist that are abusive and dangerous and associated with an exorbitant amount of stress. Those are opposite sides of the spectrum and this study looked straight down the middle. Take it for what it’s worth.

We all travel different paths as we head down the road to happiness. If you are happy being single, enjoy it. If you dove into matrimony with the love of your life, embrace it. If you are considering saying “I do,” go ahead and do it. It looks like it just might be better for your health.


1. Carnegie Mellon University. (2017, February 13). Married people have lower levels of stress hormone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170213131232.htm

Journal Reference:

2. Brian Chin, Michael L.M. Murphy, Denise Janicki-Deverts, Sheldon Cohen. Marital status as a predictor of diurnal salivary cortisol levels and slopes in a community sample of healthy adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2017; 78: 68 DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.01.016

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  • Andrea Hope 2 years, 3 months ago

    Whew! I'm only 4 years in, and it's good to read someone else say it's a challenging job. I usually either hear the negative side or the 'we're soulmates' couple, and I feel that most happy couples probably live in-between. I'm trying to fight this tendency of focusing on what could be better. A couple years in, I started a journal of logging beautiful memories I have with my husband to read in moments that I feel unreasonably pessimistic and it's really helped. What has helped you the most in 22 years?

    • Lyn Geist 2 years, 2 months ago

      I tell ya, year 22 isn't all that much easier than year 4. The difference is you are done making the same mistakes you made the first 7 or so years. lol. My husband is a great guy. BUT he is also no attuned to my thoughts, feelings, dreams, hopes. etc. I never expect him to know how I feel about something, I always come right out and say it. "I am really mad at you right now and It doesn't seem like you give a s$*$ about any of feelings." I always felt like I never did anything right, or at least not well. There was always some kind of complaint. It might have been a small one but it was still a complaint. I used to try so hard to make him happy. After some very unhappy years, I finally realized it wasn't my job to make him happy. Not only that he was the kind of person who just wasn't going to be happy with anything. lol So I focused on doing things that made me happy. Things like reading more books, going out for a coffee on Sunday mornings. I never went out with "the girls" and I was never disrespectful. I just focused more on me. Surprisingly, the happier I got the better his mood became. When we are young and newly married, it seems like it is our job to make sure the marriage is happy and stays happy. It isn't. It isn't their job either. Make sure you do things that make you happy so you don't get lost in the pessimism. I still get pessimistic about the state of our marriage, and I stop and think "who would I rather be with?" The answer is always the same. No one. Even after all the B.S that comes with marriage, I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else. Marriage is the most difficult, trying, and frustrating job I've ever had. You just have to take the good with the bad and don't lose yourself in the process. :) I don't know if that helped any, but I wish you lots and lots of patience in the years to come.

  • Rick Doble 2 years, 2 months ago

    I've been married 28 years. It takes more patience than you ever thought possible, at the same time my wife is the only person I feel totally comfortable with. Life with or without a mate is not easy and its unpredictable. C'est la vie, as the French say. I would not be the person that I am if she was not around -- and I like who I am.

  • Miranda Fotia 2 years, 1 month ago

    Great piece! I totally agree with the research. I have been happily married to my soulmate for 13 years in September. Things aren't always perfect, but he has a very calming presence and I cannot imagine how stressful my life would be without him.

    • Lyn Geist 2 years, 1 month ago

      👍My husband is a stabilizing force in my life too. Shoot I barely remember life without him.