Divorce and early death are connected, scientists tell us. (It’s also been shown before that being single can kill you.) But is it the divorce that causes the early death? Researchers from the University of Arizona believe it’s smoking and lack of exercise, which often become the choice of divorced men and women, that are the major contributor to negative life expectancy.
Smoking and lack of exercise are the problem, not divorces as such, research found
The fact that marital status is linked to the life expectancy and health condition for males has been documented in a variety of studies during recent years.
Married men tend to be healthier and live longer. However, it’s not only the emotional well-being that affects health outcomes for divorced males, researchers from Arizona found. The major problems are lack of physical activity, following the divorce, and tendency to smoke.
Kyle Bourassa, the leading author of the study, stated that “health behaviors are often linked to psychological variables like life satisfaction”.
The findings extend on the longitude research of British adults. Over 5,700 people’s data was collected over years, with over 900 people who were separated or divorced and didn’t find another partner.
Divorced people had 46% greater chance of dying early as compared to the participants in stable relationships.
Women in particular reported lower levels of life satisfaction if the marriage broke up. It is also these participants who were divorced that had higher incidence of smoking and low physical activity.
Why divorce and early death are linked
“When relationships end, we lose that important social control of our health behaviors,” Bourassa explained. In other words, while in a marriage, a partner’s unhappiness with negative behaviours could be a stimulus to maintain physical health, and once the union breaks down, the person tends to feel worse emotionally and therefore takes a lesser care of oneself.
At the same time, scientists admit that ending an unhealthy relationship could lead to an improvement in one’s health.
The major lesson is that it’s not the marital status per se that determines one’s longevity, but the routine and activities they are engaged in. Being physically active and giving up smoking is strongly associated with better health outcomes.
Another research found that poor communication skills are dangerous to your health. People who lack communication skills tend to demonstrate negative health outcomes.
Being married seems to correlate strongly with better outcomes for one’s longevity and overall physical condition. The fact of having a stable partner can be both the result of having good communication skills, as well as being in a stable union would naturally cause one’s ability to form and maintain relationships to improve. The cause and the effect are interlinked, not just linear, apparently.