The state of your relationship can have a huge impact on your health. Here’s a sampling of the very latest research:

  • First: Getting hitched means fewer mental health problems. Researchers at Northwestern University found that married people are less likely than singles to suffer from depression and anxiety. Couples also produce fewer stress hormones when times are tough. That’s because they have each other to rely on for emotional support. And they know that somebody’s always got their back. 

  • Another way long-term relationships are good for you: Reduced pain. MRI images show that just seeing a picture of your partner can cut activity in your brain’s pain center in half. 

  • The final way our relationship impacts our health: Being part of a couple makes us happier. A study in the Journal of Research in Personality shows that couples rate their life satisfaction much higher than singles. One big reason: Every hug and peck on the cheek triggers your brain to release the mood-boosting and bonding hormone oxytocin. The researchers say that a steady trickle of oxytocin can protect you from the normal decline in happiness that occurs with age.