Depending on your situation, having a spouse can help or hurt your health. 
Credit: Photo: Getty Images / Dave and Les Jacobs

"For better or worse" is what couples say when they commit to a marriage. But how much does being in a relationship really affect your health? A slew of studies, pointing out both the good and the bad side effects, seem to show a tie between your relationship status and your overall wellbeing. 

It's a common belief that couples may "let themselves go" after marriage and science seems to back that notion up. According to a 2012 review, people may gain weight as they settle into their marriage, then lose weight when a marriage ends. Getting hitched doesn't always have to mean packing on the pounds, though. Couples who encourage each other to live healthier lifestyles, through exercising more or making better food choices, can influence their partner's health for good. 

Partners can be a huge influence when it comes to alcohol, too. A 2008 study of 600 couples during their first four years of marriage found that people's drinking habits tended to mirror their partner's. If one partner drank heavily, the other was more likely to do so too. 

On a more positive note, research has found that a happy marriage equals a happy heart, for men at least. In a 2017 study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, men who said their marriage improved over time had lower LDL cholesterol and healthier weight, compared to those whose relationship satisfaction was consistent. If relationships got worse, so did blood pressure. 

Bottom line? If you and your spouse prioritize healthy lifestyles and hold each other accountable, you'll reap the long-term benefits.