Marriage isn’t all it’s made out to be

champagne_banner_our_wedding_500_wht_604For years scientists have said that married people are happier, healthier and wealthier than single people.

Well it’s not true!

Single people exercise more, have better health and more friends compared to married people.

Psychologist Bella DePaulo says earlier studies are flawed because they didn’t take into account the consequences of divorce. In most studies people for whom marriage was awful were excluded as divorcees were counted as singletons.

In reality married people are unlikely to see life as a continuous opportunity to learn new things and develop friendships.

They are more likely to be putting up with an unfulfilling job and a dwindling circle of friends a they await their end.

DePaulo says that for many people being single is a positive, rational choice and they are living the dream.

Lifelong singletons also have more fulfilling jobs and are more interested in self-improvement.

Married people who end up getting divorced end up worse off than people who stay single thus skewing the results even more in favour of married people.

Other research suggests that married men are healthier because their wife nags them!

I’m surprised she doesn’t mention the impact of children or grandchildren on relationships.  Also in these days of gender fluidity and same sex marriages how do these trends influence the data?

You know what they say about lies and statistics!

Happy Marriage or Good Health?

couple_in_love_1600_wht_10952It seems that men can’t have both!

Researchers looking at  more than a thousand couples aged over 57 over 5 years have found that men, but not women, in bad marriages are less likely to suffer from diabetes.

They believe the answer lies in the power of nagging.

Wives are usually more likely to remind husbands to stop smoking, to eat healthily, to stop having chocolate, to take medicine” says Professor Hui Liu from Michigan State University.

On the one hand this is good for the husband’s health. On the other hand it might increase the tension

The professor was surprised by the results of her research expecting thereto be a positive relationship between the quality of the marriage and diabetes.

Marriage is well known to promote health, particularly for men.

In this study women’s health improved with the quality of the marriage lowering their risk of becoming diabetic. Among men the reverse was true. The worse the marriage the more their health improved.

The professor suggests that “For men, if you have a nagging wife it might not be that bad. She cares about you, wants you to have a healthy lifestyle and a healthy life”

Husbands’ behaviour improving?

couple_in_love_1600_wht_10952or are women becoming more tolerant as fewer women sought a divorce in 2013.

Only 4% of wives wanted a divorce in the first 5 years of marriage, the lowest level since 1973 and only half the 1986 rate – the worst year for marriages that led to divorces.

Most divorces are initiated by women and although there were over 100,000 in 2013 that was 50,000 down from a peak of 165,000 in 1993. The Marriage Foundation commissioned the research from the ONS which showed the data for divorces initiated by men and women

The founder of the Marriage Foundation thinks that the decrease must be down to men living up to women’s expectations better. The danger period in marriages is between three and six years which tends to coincide with starting a family.

It seems men who get married now are more committed.

In the past men may have succumbed to social and peer pressure to “tie the knot” or “do the right thing” and not have bought fully into a long-term commitment, including a family. When the pressure increased on time and finances they started to show indifference to the relationship and behaving in a less committed way. Women were increasingly not prepared put up with that and this created conflict often leading to divorce.

Now many, although not all, men are prepared to share childcare and contribute to the domestic routine which leads to more marital satisfaction.

Your face gives away your lifestyle and hides your real age

P1020307If you’re married, have fewer than four children, and come from a higher social class – you probably look younger than you actually are.

If you have lost a significant amount of weight, fallen down the social ladder, or are living as a lonely singleton – then you probably look older.

The combination of lifestyle, medical history and diet has a measurable impact on how your looks age.

Generally speaking a youthful face is an accurate indicator of good health (as is how energetically you walk).

Marriage is more beneficial for a woman knocking almost two years off her age (and if she moves up the social ladder she can look four years younger – and the same applies to men).

For men marriage generally only knocks off one year but having one to three children makes a man look a year younger while it makes no difference to a woman.

These benefits disappear in families with four children.

Looking chubbier as you get older helps men look younger as it smooths out the wrinkles. Adding 2 points to your body mass index (bmi) will take of a year whereas a woman would have to add 7 points to her bmi to get the same effect.

An affluent married man with no more than three children will took ten years younger than someone who is homeless, single and has lost weight (2 points off his bmi).

All the factors combined can lead to people in their 40s looking up to seven years younger than their contemporaries.

Public Health scientists at the Danish twin registry led the study to be published in the journal Age and Ageing.

They asked nurses to guess the ages of almost 2,000 identical and non-identical twins in their seventies. They then looked at environmental factors including marriage, parenthood and social class. Previous studies have shown that non-genetic factors account for 40% of the variation in perceived age.

The effects of heavy smoking are relatively  modest. You would have to smoke 20 a day for 20 years to gain extra wrinkles and tobacco smoke only causes half that damage to women’s skin.

However heavy drinking can add a year to both sexes as can diabetes, chronic asthma or the regular use of painkillers.

Excessive exposure to sunlight had no effect on the perception of men’s ages but added over a year to women’s faces by the time they reached seventy.

Depression makes women look a lot older than men. Almost 4 extra years compared with 2.4 for men.

One of the researchers, Dr Kaare Christensen, said “It is a lot more dangerous looking one year older than one year younger”. If you are not depressed, not lonely, not a smoker, and not too skinny, you are basically doing well”.

Dr Chris Philipson, professor of social gerontology at Keele University says “diet and exercise are crucial factors. You can do an awful lot over the age of 40 to 50 to change the way you experience growing old“.

The more lavish the wedding, the more likely it won’t last long

wedding_rings_rotating_500_wht_515A few months ago I posted some research from America that suggested that the bigger the wedding you had the happier you would be.

But trust economists to come up with more negative findings. They have found that the more expensive the wedding the shorter it lasts. 

They cite Kim Kardashian’s previous marriage to Kris Humphries which cost £6 million and only lasted 72 days. She spent £8 million on her last marriage in May so she should be filing divorce papers about now.

Elizabeth Hurley’s marriage to Arun Nayar in 2007 only cost £1.5 million but was spread over 8 days and two continents and ended in divorce after 4 years. You could go on eg Cheryl Cole and Ashley Cole lasted 4 years.

The two economists, Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, at Emory University in Atlanta who carried out they study on over 3,000 people said “We find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony”.

The economists produced some interesting statistics which will not be welcome to the burgeoning wedding industry – including De Beers urging men to spend two months salary  on an engagement ring.

  • Women whose weddings cost $20,ooo or more were 3.5 times more likely to end up divorced than women who spent $5-10,000.
  • Men who spent $2,ooo – $4,000 on an engagement ring were 1.3 times more likely to end up divorced than those who spent $500 – $2,000.

So why do people go along with more and more lavish weddings? The economists blame the wedding industry for “commoditising love and romance” i.e. putting a value and a price on it.

In 1959 Brides magazine recommended that couples spent 3 months planning the wedding with 22 tasks to complete. Fifty years later that advice is 12 months planning and a checklist of 44 items. You hear of wedding planning that lasts longer than some of these celebrity weddings. Stag/hen weekends in Europe followed by the same again at home for those who couldn’t make the foreign trip followed by pre-wedding spa sessions. Seems to me to be more stressful than actually getting married!

The Chief Executive at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships in London believes that couple who go over the top to create a “perfect day” “may be aware of an underlying problem in their relationship” and points out that once the event is over there’s just the two of you in the relationship (although these days there may be children from previous partners in the equation).

And looking back at the previous post on bigger weddings = more happiness, they did only follow them up for a couple of years.



How do you stop the ageing process?

elderly_man_holding_a_custom_text_sign_12871Forget the magic potions and snake oil. Start walking, stop eating puddings, stop eating full stop, that will work!

Fancy a nap? Then have one. Men don’t dye your grey hair it looks worse than having grey hair. Compare the new-look Tom Jones and Macca if you don’t agree.

Buy decent clothes. Nothing worse than an old geezer in rubbish clothes (and I include trainers in that category from bitter personal experience).

These are just a few of the ideas in the Times2 section today written by Matthew Parris with my own thoughts added.

The full article gives a great long list of things to do suggested by the Times team of experts and here are most of them with my own comments added here and there:

  • Get out of your comfort zone and do something different
  • Stop worrying about your status in society and comparing yourself with other people. Status anxiety just makes us unhappy
  • Learn something new every day. Apparently the Queen does this and a fat lot of good that has done Prince Charles
  • Get a pet. It reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels and is particularly useful if you have had a heart attack
  • Be an optimist and look forward to things. I’m looking forward to having a holiday again one day
  • Stop making lists and JUST DO IT
  • Eat less but eat better
  • Pay off debts
  • Get married and you’ll live longer. Certainly good for men
  • Wear comfortable shoes as soon in life as you can. I love my Clarke’s shoes and Geox trainers. Uncomfortable shoes lead to inflammation which impacts on everything from heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s
  • Walk if you can, use the stairs, lift weights . This improves your memory as well as your stamina NB you lose 1lb of muscle weight a year from age 50
  • T-shirts not a good idea if you have a paunch, better a tailored shirt
  • Get enough vitamin D i.e. get some sun on your back and avoid dementia
  • Have more sex. Only way to age-proof your sex-life is to keep having one.
  • Listen to boy bands. I know it’s hard to believe but apparently listening to Westlife’s “Safe”, One Direction’s “Midnight Memories“, Blue’s “All Rise” and Take That’s “When we were Young” is recommended for their invigorating bounciness and the way the lyrics speak to the older generation.  I suppose they’re a bit more positive than the lyrics to “My Generation” by The Who!

The best place to find a friend

is in the office. According to a poll of over 1.000 people by a gluten-free food supplier.

stick_figures_at_water_cooler_pc_1600_wht_3800The average Brit has 64 friend, and while the closest friends are still those from our schooldays we have more in common with people we work with.

A third of those polled admitted to having more in common with colleagues than friends and relatives and almost 40% had befriended at least 10 people at work.

Almost half of those surveyed said that the workplace was the likeliest place to form relationships, because of the long hours worked, followed by schools, clubs and social media.

For women to form a friendship at work you have to have shared personal problems; for men it’s making friends over a drink after work.

And for 13% of people sharing a dislike of someone at work helped to forge a bond!

Other studies have found that increasingly people are meeting their future partners at work. It’s even claimed that you are more likely to marry someone you meet at work whereas meeting someone in a pub or online is more likely to end in a one-night stand or just a fling.


If you’re getting married have a big wedding

champagne_banner_our_wedding_500_wht_604It seems that the bigger the wedding you have the happier you will be in your marriage.

According to research funded by the US National Institute of Child Health & Human Development and carried out at the Centre for Marital & Family Studies at Denver University.

The findings  suggest that saying their vows in front of a large number of friends and family may reinforce a couple’s belief that they have made the right decision. It may also provide them with a wider range of support when things are not going so well.

Two years after their wedding couples who had held large weddings endured less conflict, spent more quality time together and confided in each other more than those who hadn’t.

For every additional guest there was a small increase in levels of reported happiness regardless of the couple’s income. The couples in the study had an average of 118 guests.

These results are part of a tracking study of over 400 couples since 2006 following their engagement and subsequent marriage.

There are a number of factors which have a negative effect on the marriage. These are:

  • children from previous relationships
  • believing that one of them is less committed
  • marrying after pregnancy or childbirth
  • previously cohabiting with someone else
  • any previous sexual relationship with another partner

Factors which have a positive impact are:

  • both completing high school
  • if their parents were both together in their teens

A study in London found that couples were putting off or postponing marriages because of the trend towards bigger and more extravagant weddings. So invite a lot of guests but keep the costs down. This trend might be thought of as couples taking out insurance by investing in and celebrating their marriage so publicly.

This is not good news if you are a parent paying for it of course.  Look on the bright side; there might be less chance of your child returning home when the marriage fails.

Open Marriage = Happy Marriage


From Open Marriage, Healthy Marriage?

The term “open marriage” has come a long way. It once implied that people had the freedom to choose who they would like to marry. Current research and views of Western marriage support the idea that an open marriage, supporting the growth and development of the individuals within a marriage, creates the healthiest environment for a happy, long-term relationship. That understanding of the ‘open marriage’ term was coined by  in their book Open Marriage, though it has been widely misinterpreted over the years with the whole focus of the ‘open marriage’ meme shifting to non-monogamous sexual relationship.


As David J. Ley points out, “when Nena and George O’Neill wrote their book, Open Marriage, the media and society grabbed onto a small piece of their concept, the idea that married partners might have sex with people other than their spouse. In later writings, the O’Neill’s…

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Money is the main cause of divorces

money_war_pound_pc_1600_wht_4731Love of money or lack of it is the main cause of divorce according to research published in the Family Relationships journal.

Professor Sonja Britt at Kansas State University who studied over 4,500 couples said “it doesn’t matter how much you are worth ….  arguments about money are the top predictor in divorce because it happens at all levels”.

Rowing with a partner over money is the strongest predictor of a divorce – more than rows over children, sex, or the in-laws.

It takes longer to recover from money arguments than any other kind of disagreement as they are more intense. Couples used harsher language and the arguments lasted longer.

These rows lowered the satisfaction in relationships and if finance makes divorce impossible then it makes matters worse. The stress makes it impossible for the couple to sit down and make proper financial plans.