In a day when the institution of marriage is challenged, ridiculed, maligned, redefined and denigrated, it's refreshing to read something positive about this God-ordained covenant.
In an AP article, "Married folks have fewer heart problems," Marilyn Marchione cites an interesting study involving 3.5 million Americans. Researchers concluded that "married people are less likely than singles, divorced or widowed folks to suffer any type of heart or blood vessel problem."
These findings were "true at any age, for women as well as for men," regardless of other risk factors of heart disease, like high cholesterol or diabetes, or others.
According to Dr. Carlos Alviar, one of the lead cardiologists, this study is the "largest look at marriage and heart health" ever conducted. Previous studies simply compared married to single people, and lacked vital information on those divorced and widowed.
It was suggested by Dr. Jeffrey Berger, a preventive cardiologist, that "if someone is married, they have a spouse who encourages them to take better care of themselves."
In light of these statistics, it could be said that it's not good to be alone. This was God's sentiment exactly, when He said at creation, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a help meet for him," i.e. one who completes him. (Genesis 2:18)
So it was at the first marriage between Adam and Eve. The friendship and comfort of marriage has brought healing to the inner "heart" down through the course of human history.
Many suffer these days from psychosomatic problems, where bodily disease is triggered by emotional turmoil. I doubt if there's a physician who would deny that worry can eventually produce a stomach ulcer or a stressed heart condition. Mind over matter is a reality that needs to be addressed.
After being married to my bride for 57 years, I can attest to the truth of this study.
At the marriage altar, two become one flesh. This is unique and precious, making a magical romantic state possible - a bit of "heaven on earth." This "oneness" is better than "twoness." There's something about the unity of spirit and purpose that bolsters health for the heart (whether inward or outward).
Consider also the antiquated fact that marriage provides sexual intimacy without guilt. How many people are addicted to all kinds of substances because of guilt? Not only is this monogamous relationship safe, but it is blissful and satisfying. (Think it through before you poke fun.)
The study mentions that "marriage seemed to do the most good for those younger than age 50; they had a 12 percent lower risk of heart-related disease than single people their age." That's a significant observation in light of the present trend of young adults shirking marriage or failing to commit to another for life.
Certainly not all are to marry, but it is the normal way to maintain and advance society. To play down the privilege and stability of this God-given institution is likely to affect one's inner and outer health.
Young people need to reconsider their future in light of this trend. There's something to be said for a young man leaving his father and mother to be joined to a loving wife. Yes, there something sacred about a young couple forsaking all others to be committed to each other for life. How fulfilling and healthy it is when two loving, united hearts choose to establish a new home and family, where the "smile" of God's blessing is manifested amid the daily trials of life.
Naturally speaking, I doubt that there's anything on planet earth to compare with this wonderful set-up.
Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org