News / USA

    Elderly Couples Demonstrate Benefits of Long Marriage

    A happy marriage - or a permanent committed relationship - have long been associated with longevity and better health
    A happy marriage - or a permanent committed relationship - have long been associated with longevity and better health

    Multimedia

    Carolyn Weaver

    At 88 and 85, Joe and Georgia Mark are still quick-steppers and affectionate banterers, who share everything except for Joe’s passion for golf. “I was never too interested,” said Georgia, as Joe putted a golf ball in the living room. “But Joe’s a great golfer, no question about that.”

    They live in Brooklyn, where they met on a blind date in 1943, and spent the afternoon dancing at a Chinese restaurant. “We danced through the whole thing,” Joe Mark recalled recently at an interview at their apartment. “I was a good dancer, but she was a great dancer. I didn’t even eat the Chinese food. Jeez, we paid for something and didn’t even eat it,” he said, with a laugh. “And this July, it’ll be 67 years we’re married. We’re like the government. We plan ahead."

    In their decades together, they have raised two schoolteacher daughters and helped raise two grandsons. Joe ran his own dry cleaning business, and survived two bouts of cancer and a heart attack. “You are a survivor, twice. Thank God, because I won’t let you die, no matter what,” Georgia Mark said to her husband, in a briefly serious moment, as they sat drinking coffee in their kitchen, opposite a wall covered with family snapshots.

    Georgia Mark could be right about her importance to her husband’s health. Studies have found that married people have better physical and emotional health, in general, than single individuals, and tend to live longer. One study cited earlier this year in the Student British Medical Journal found that mortality rates among married people in all seven European countries surveyed were 10 to 15 percent lower than among unmarried individuals. Deborah Carr, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, notes that one reason is economic: married couples tend to have more money than single individuals, especially if both spouses work. But Carr said that people who marry also tend to be healthier to begin with, and then gain from having a partner who cares for them, both practically and emotionally.

    “When couples love each other, they watch out for each other,” she said. “The wife will make her husband healthy meals and give him his medication, the husband will take the woman’s arm as she is walking on a slippery ice patch. So, there really are very direct things that husbands and wives do to protect each other’s health, physically. And then perhaps the most important one is the emotional. Having someone you can talk to, having someone you can share your feelings with: that has very real effects for emotional health and physical health.”

    Carr observed that it's hard to know to what degree a stable marriage leads to better health - or is a result of it. The stress of health problems or substance abuse can undo a marriage that once seemed strong. Financial insecurity, too, makes marriage more difficult both to begin and sustain.Carr also added that in some countries where women lack equality and where divorce is illegal or stigmatized, a long marriage doesn’t necessarily mean better health. That is because unhappy, high-conflict marriages are even more strongly associated with ill health than is single status, especially for women.

    In developed countries, she said, men still tend to show more of a physical-health advantage from marriage than do married women, perhaps because women tend to do more care-taking of their spouses than do men. But both genders suffer from less depression when they are married, she said. And not surprisingly, as married people age, they often argue less, and enjoy each other’s company even more, like Joe and Georgia Mark, who 68 years after they met, say they are still each other’s best friends.

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora