Breaking Up Bad for Health

From the August 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Divorce can cause more aches than a heartache. A 2005 study funded by the National Institute on Aging (nia) shows a link between being divorced for long periods of time and higher rates of illness and loss of mobility later in life (Wall Street Journal, June 16).

The study, conducted among 8,652 people ages 51 to 61, found that the longer someone is divorced or widowed, the more susceptible he or she is to heart or lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, stroke and restricted mobility (walking and climbing stairs). Those who were married at the time of the study and had never been divorced or widowed had 20 percent fewer chronic conditions than those who had been divorced.

The link between prolonged stress (such as would be caused by divorce) and weakened immunity has been proven in many studies. But another study by the National Center for Health Statistics last year linked the stress of divorce to the kinds of behavior that lead to chronic disease: Divorced people are likely to smoke more, drink more and exercise less.

The authors of the nia report rightly conclude, “married people’s healthier state springs from … not only [mate] selection, but from the protective, stabilizing effect of marriage” (ibid.).

Why is divorce so damaging, even physically? Simply because it’s a violation of God’s law of love in nearly all cases (Malachi 2:16). The pain is proof. Divorce destroys families and love. God’s law protects family, which facilitates happiness and health.