Divorce can take a toll on physical health – even after a person remarries.
A study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that divorced or widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer than married people. They also have 23 percent more mobility limitations, such as trouble climbing stairs or walking a block.
The study, “Marital Biography and Health Midlife,” is based on an examination of the lives of 8,652 people aged 51 through 61. “Among the currently married, those who have ever been divorced show worse health on all dimensions. Both the divorced and widowed who do not remarry show worse health on all dimensions,” says University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite and co-author of a new study on marriage and health. The study discusses the intimate connections between our emotional and physical health, and how the line between the two is constantly blurred.
The researchers claim that people who never married have 12 percent more mobility limitations and 13 percent more depressive symptoms, but show no difference in the number of chronic health conditions from married people.
Even among remarried people, the study found that 12 percent more reported chronic conditions and 19 percent more had mobility limitations, but this group had no greater depressive symptoms than those who are continuously married.
This study suggests another reason to seek out marital or family counseling before getting a divorce, which should be seen for what it is – a choice of very last resort, after other honest attempts have been made to fix the relationship. Even after remarrying, for some reason people who had previously divorced still report more health concerns than those who never divorced.