Listening to the Sunday news pundits and watching recent breaking news has caused us to look at what might make a difference—individually and as a nation. There is one thing: love. Its power is amazing.
We’ve all heard the stories of people losing their will to live after a partner dies. They say that often a long-time love will follow a sweetheart into death, passing in less than six months, or often much sooner, of their spouse. The occurrence even has a name: the Widowhood Effect. At first glance, this may seem the stuff of fairy tales (or perhaps nightmares), but a study published in the American Journal of Public Health verifies the facts.
The Widowhood Effect “is one of the best documented examples of the effect of social relations on health. The Widowhood Effect has been found among men and women of all ages throughout the world.”
This phenomenon may seem scary at first, but there’s also many quite positive sides to the Widowhood Effect—love makes people not only want to keep living, love makes people live better, healthier lives.
For starters, it’s true that half of the people who exercise solo quit their programs after one year. However, two-thirds of those who work out with a loved one stick to it. In addition, men and women alike workout 12 to 15 percent harder when they are with a romantic partner.
After a heart attack, men and women who are married recover more quickly and have a lower mortality rate than those individuals who are single. Those in committed, healthy relationships experience less stress, and men are more likely to give up risky behaviors such as smoking and driving too fast when they get married. (http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/marriage-and-mens-health)
Happily married and/or committed people have fewer doctor visits, less depression, substance abuse and less anxiety. They have lower blood pressure. Those who are unhappily married have the highest. An added benefit to marriage is that in a study done by the Centers for Disease Control of over 127,000 adults, married people were less likely to complain of headaches and back pain. Those in a happy marriage heal more quickly, have fewer colds and are able to manage stress better. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_185.pdf)
The National Longitudinal Mortality Study, following more than a million subjects since 1979, has shown that married people live longer. The study confirmed they have fewer heart attacks and lower cancer rates and even get pneumonia less frequently than those who are single. (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13524-011-0032-5)
The benefits of a loving, committed relationship are innumerable. If we love, we are happier, and if we are happier, there will be less anger and hate. Life isn’t always easy, but love makes life better.
Promoting loving and healthy relationships will help us all to thrive and survive. So, that brings me to what can make the world a better place, back to a simple, one-word answer: love.
“Where there is love there is life.” Mahatma Gandhi