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Kiss for Good Health
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A group of German psychologists, physicians and insurance companies researching secrets of long life and success made a surprising discovery. It is something simple and free: kiss your spouse each morning when you leave for work.

The researchers reported that people who kiss their spouses every morning have fewer automobile accidents on their way to work than those who omit the morning kiss. Morning kissers miss less work because of sickness and earn 20 to 30 percent more than non-kissers. How do they explain their findings? According to Dr. Arthur Szabo, “A husband who kisses his wife every morning begins the day with a positive attitude.” A positive attitude heals.

The National Center for Health Statistics reported in 2004 that married people are healthier than other adults. While the survey of more than 125,000 people didn’t specify reasons, health statistician Charlotte Schoenborn explains two major theories. One is that marriage may be protective of health. For example, married couples may have advantages in terms of economic resources, social and psychological support and encouragement of healthful lifestyles. A second possibility is marital selection, “the theory that healthy people get married and stay married, whereas less healthy people either do not marry or are more likely to become separated, divorced or widowed.”

Married versus Unmarried Couples

Of course, unmarried couples in a loving relationship may enjoy similar health gains. However, a study from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta indicates that unmarried couples don’t reap as high a level of benefit as do those in a healthy marriage. Because marriage entails a legal vow to stay together for life—often in front of family, friends and communities—the married couple and those who surround them are more likely to recognize and support that bond. Conversely, an unmarried couple doesn’t receive the same social sanction and may develop a weaker network of support.

But just as a healthy marriage is good for your health, an unhealthy marriage can be detrimental as it can be an enormous source of stress. A study of newlywed couples conducted at Ohio State University found that hostile and negative behavior was associated with a decline in immune system response. This can spur a number of health consequences, such as slower wound healing and greater susceptibility to infectious diseases. Janet Kiecolt-Glaser wrote that “a bad marriage can depress the body’s immune system. Unhappily married women have subnormal levels of white blood cells, which destroy infections, and increased herpes virus activity. Other immune system depressants are stress and loneliness.”

We can conclude that a bad marriage is not good for your health, and divorce and cohabitation is not a better alternative, so the best thing we can conclude is to do whatever it takes to have as healthy a marriage as possible. Not only will we be happier, but also healthier. I could cite other studies that report the same conclusion (just do a simple Google search using the words “marriage good health”), but because I want to enjoy good health, avoid car accidents, earn more money and have a healthier marriage, I’m going to stop here and kiss my wife before she leaves for work.

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By Claudio Consuegra. Reprinted with permission from Mid-America Outlook Magazine, Vol. 28, #6. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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