Marriage Could be Good for Your Health — Unless You Are Bisexual

Ning Hsieh, Michigan State University and Hui Liu, Michigan State University

A high number of studies show that married people enjoy better health than unmarried men and women, such as lower rates of depression and cardiovascular ailments , in addition to longer lives.

But these findings are developed primarily based on information of heterosexual populations and different-sex marriages. Only more recently have a few research looked into homosexual and lesbian populations and same-sex unions to check if marriage is related to better health in these populations — and the evidence is mixed.

Our analysis , published online on Sept. 19, evaluates the benefits of marriage across heterosexual, bisexual, and gay or lesbian adults. We found that bisexual adults don’t experience better health when married.

Union and health data

Using representative data in the 2013 to 2017 National Health Interview Survey, we compared reports of self-rated health and functional limitation — difficulty doing tasks without help or special equipment — around 1,428 bisexual adults, 2,654 gay and lesbian adults and 150,403 heterosexual adults.

Both heterosexual and homosexual and lesbian people are better off with respect to health when they are married than when unmarried.

By way of instance, the likelihood of reporting very good health are about 36% higher among married gay and lesbian adults than not married or formerly married gay and lesbian adults.

Rates of functional limitation, such as difficulty climbing stairs and heading out for shopping, are 25 percent to 43% lower among married heterosexual adults compared to cohabiting, never married and formerly married heterosexual adults.

Why does this occur? There are two popular explanations.

The union protection argument posits that marriage raises economic security and social support and promotes healthier lifestyles — for instance, less drinking and smoking.

The union selection argument suggests that individuals with more education, income and other health-favorable characteristics are more likely to get married and remain in marriage.

But, unlike heterosexual and homosexual or lesbian adults, our research shows that married bisexuals aren’t healthier than unmarried bisexuals.

Interestingly, among bisexuals that are married or cohabiting, people who have a same-sex spouse are healthier than those with a different-sex spouse. Their odds of reporting very good health are 2.3 times higher and the prices of functional limitation are 61 percent reduced.

Relationship stigma

Our findings indicate that bisexuals face unique challenges in their relationships which may lessen the health advantage connected to marriage.

An increasing number of research have discovered that bisexual individuals experience poorer health than heterosexual, gay or lesbian people. Including higher rates of psychological disorders, cardiovascular ailments and disability.

Bisexual folks are frequently perceived by both heterosexual and gay and lesbian individuals as indecisive about their sexual orientation, sexually permissive, and unfaithful or untrustworthy as intimate partners. By way of instance, an experimental analysis revealed that people more often project such negative stereotypes on a bisexual man dating a girl than they do on a heterosexual guy dating a woman or a gay man dating a guy.

Researchers like ourselves still do not fully understand the ways that stigma affects bisexuals’ relationships and wellbeing.

We guess that this stigma can undermine the health and well-being of bisexual folks. It could strain their relationships and create expectations of rejection. Their attempts to hide a bisexual identity from a spouse or other individuals can also trigger stress.

We expect to see marriage one day become not only more accessible to all, but also equally beneficial for all.

[ Thank you for reading! We can send you The Conversation’s stories daily in an informative email. ]The Conversation

The Conversation

Ning Hsieh, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Michigan State University and Hui Liu, Professor of Sociology, Michigan State University

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