Married people aren't as healthy as they used to be. Here's why

It's long been thought that marriage is good for overall health. Studies over the decades seemed to indicate that coupling up helps us eat healthier, be more proactive about healthcare, and even survive heart attacks more often, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

But our thinking could be flawed, according to more recent research. Using updated study methodologies, scientists at Ohio State University School of Medicine found that, among first marriages, there was no improvement in men's health. For women, only those married longer than 10 years found any improvement in their health, according to Social Science Quarterly.

This study compared people born from 1955 to 1984 and asked them to self-report on their health status both before and after marriage. Study author Dmitry Tumin, Ph.D., told Healthline that the results could be linked to overall sociological changes in the perception of marriage. "There have been significant cultural changes in how marriage is perceived, but more importantly in what singlehood entails," he said. "Singles are increasingly living with friends or parents, and are generally less isolated than they may have been in past generations."

Thoughts on marriage have changed

In 2014, for the first time ever, the rate of marriage in the United States dropped below the number of single adults. According to CBS, at the time, 124.6 million Americans were single, compared with 123.6 million who were married.

That drop is probably partially due to rising divorce rates, and the increased ability of women to provide for themselves. But Tumin also notes that marriage itself has changed, and may not hold the same appeal that it did for generations past. "Work-family conflict has increased in the closing decades of the 20th century, and spouses' actual time spent together has decreased over this period," he wrote in his study. "Against a backdrop of greater demands at home and at work, and less time spent together, today's married couples may indeed experience marriage more as a source of conflict and stress than as a resource that safeguards their health."

So, while being married isn't likely to harm your health, it's no longer considered the panacea for loneliness and protection that it once was. Far better to marry for the right reasons, or not at all, and to find other ways to take care of your health.