Marriage Could Ward Off Depression

Think about this next time you and your spouse are in an argument. Despite all your squabbling and minor skirmishes, marriage is actually good for you. That's the result of a study of 34,493 people in 15 countries over a 10 year period. The study was based on surveys conducted by the World Health Organization's World Mental Health (WMH) which appeared in the journal Psychological Medicine.

Marriage can bring with it both emotional and physical well being, says relationship expert Judy Kuriansky, Ph.D., author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship. But to reap the maximum health benefits, couples must work to make their marriage a happy one, she says.

"Research shows that married people, over time, end up being happier and there are several reasons why," she says. "We are social beings who like to have other people to lean on and share things with. We feel less anxious about the things going on in our lives if we have someone to share them with."

To create and hold onto the kind of solid marriage that will keep you both happy, she says, it's important to share responsibilities and make time for each other.

"You want it to be a partnership," Kuriansky says. "And you want good communication. People come in to me all the time saying, I am angry at him, we don't talk, we don't have sex. I recommend more contact. I tell couples to listen to each other and share the thoughts that you have of a future together."

Marriage offers a certain level of comfort and security, says Lisa Rene Reynolds, Ph.D., the author of "Still a Family: A Guide to Good Parenting Through Divorce."  People work like thermostats, she says.

"We like to stay in a certain range, and when someone throws us out of this zone, we try very hard to get back into that comfort zone," she says. "Couples thrive on the comfort level by being with the one you know really well. Married couples share the same miseries, problems and stressors, but they also spend down time together doing enjoyable things together."

How to strengthen the marriage and find more happiness:

  • Accept that neither one of you is perfect, says Reynolds.

  • When you're both tired and the kids are driving you crazy, make an extra point to spend time together, she says. Remind yourselves that this is temporary. The kids will be grown and you will be under less stress.

  • Think back to when you were first married and remember what it was like when you were dating. Need a memory prompt? Get out some old photo albums and take a walk down memory lane together.