Posted on Jan 21, 2013, 6 a.m.
Not having a permanent partner, or spouse, during midlife is linked to a higher risk of premature death during those midlife years.
A number of previous studies have validated the importance of social ties during midlife. Ilene C. Siegler, from Duke University (North Carolina, USA), and colleagues analyzed data collected on 4,802 individuals who took part in the University of North Carolina Alumni Heart Study (UNCAHS) - an ongoing study of individuals born in the 1940s. The team found that having a partner during middle age is protective against premature death: those who never married were more than twice as likely to die early than those who had been in a stable marriage throughout their adult life. Being single, or losing a partner without replacement, increased the risk of early death during middle age and reduced the likelihood that one would survive to be elderly. Even when personality and risky behaviors were taken into account, marital status continued to have a major impact on survival. The study authors conclude that: “Consistency of marital status during midlife suggests that lack of a partner is associated with midlife mortality.”
Ilene C. Siegler, Beverly H. Brummett, Peter Martin, Michael J. Helms. “Consistency and Timing of Marital Transitions and Survival During Midlife: the Role of Personality and Health Risk Behaviors.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine, January 2013.