Marital quality and health: Implications for marriage in the 21st century

Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2014 Dec;23(6):427-432. doi: 10.1177/0963721414549043.


Being in a happy marriage is related to better psychological and physical health. This paper describes current approaches to conceptualizing and measuring marital quality and physical health, and results from a recent meta-analysis examining associations between marital quality and physical health outcomes. To illustrate the practical significance of these findings, this paper also illustrates how the magnitude of the marital quality - physical health association is similar in size to associations between health behaviors (diet, physical activity) and health outcomes, and briefly reviews the state of the science regarding plausible biobehavioral pathways that explain how marital functioning influences health. After describing the current state of research on factors that might modify the association between marital quality and health, particularly individual differences and gender, the paper concludes with implications of the past 50 years of research on marital quality and health for marriage in the 21st century.

Keywords: Marriage; close relationships; gender; health; marital quality.