Relationship researchers have long known that marriage is associated with better health, particularly for men. One reason is that wives often take on the role of caregiver, setting up doctor appointments and reminding, even nagging, their husbands to go.
The notion that a nagging effect leads to better health for men is bolstered by new research showing that among heart attack victims, married men arrive at the hospital soonest.
On average, married heart attack victims arrived at the hospital half an hour sooner than those who were not married. But when the researchers analyzed the data separately for men and women, they found that while married men were more than 60 percent less likely to arrive late than their single peers, there was no statistically significant difference between married and single women.
Even when a man is not experiencing troubling symptoms like chest pains, it is not uncommon for a wife to begin pushing her husband to visit the doctor long before a man thinks he needs to go.
Wives are in a unique position to persuade their husbands to seek medical care. Women are far more likely to have a personal physician than men. And even when prenatal visits and trips to the pediatrician are excluded, women are still twice as likely as men to visit the doctor. As a result, they have more regular access to physicians and often use their visits to throw in a few extra questions about husbands and family members or seek a referral for a family member.
And because erectile function is an important barometer of a man's health, a wife often is the first to notice changes that could signal a health problem like heart disease or diabetes.