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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid