Study: Marriage reduces stress hormone

I should have known that being married would benefit my health. My wife definitely watches out for me, and I eat better and exercise more regularly since we’ve been together.

Apparently there is more to the benefit than that. A study by researchers at the University of Chicago suggests that marriage and other committed long-term relationships change peoples’ hormonal response to psychologically stressful situations.

Published in the journal Stress, the researchers examined 501 masters degree students (348 men and 153 women) at the University of Chicago’s business school. Forty percent of the men and 53 percent of the women were married or in long-term romantic relationships. The researchers tested the participants’ economic behavior using several computer games and measured hormone levels and changes before and after they played.

The students were told that the games were part of course requirements and would impact their careers in order to test whether the potentially stressful situation impacted their levels of the stress-hormone cortisol. All participants had increases in their cortisol levels, but the levels increases were higher in unmarried participants who were not in relationships.

“What we found is that marriage has a dampening effect on cortisol responses to psychological stress, and, that is very new,” said Dario Maestripieri, professor of comparative human development at the University of Chicago. “These results suggest that single and unpaired individuals are more responsive to psychological stress than married individuals, a finding consistent with a growing body of evidence showing that marriage and social support can buffer against stress.”

Thanks, honey. I can only imagine what my level of stress would be if you weren’t helping keep thing damped down.

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