At last, good news for long suffering wives and husbands. According to a study by Aston Medical School in Birmingham, staying with your other half in sickness and in health is more likely to keep you alive.

In what was the largest study of its kind researchers analysed a database of more than one million patients with an average age of 60, over a 13 year period.

The results were conclusive: being married is better for your health. They found that those with a spouse were less likely to die from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and and Type 2 Diabetes - the biggest risk factors for heart disease. The reason for such improved longevity was attributed to partners badgering one other about medication, eating healthily and getting enough exercise. 

But if the results are vindication for those who choose to stick together, experts warn we shouldn't use this an an excuse to rush out and tie the knot.  

"The findings shouldn't be seen as a reason to get married," says lead researcher Dr Paul Carter, who presented the study at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester "but as an encouragement for people to build strong support networks with their family and friends."

Marriage has long been thought of as a panacea for the soul. In 2010, the World Health Organisation found it could reduce the risk of anxiety and depression, and marital partners were much less likely to suffer the blues than those who stayed single. Research from the University of California has also proved that death rates of those with cancer was lower if patients were not single - a fact attributed to having better health insurance and what they called 'social support'.

For women, the good news keeps coming. Two years ago another piece of research came to the fore that suggested that, while marriage is long known to have beneficial psychological and physical effects, being single has less of a negative affect on women than on men.

The findings, this time by the University College London, the London School of Economics and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, stated that middle aged women who had never married had virtually the same chance of developing metabolic syndrome – a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity - as their married counterparts. 

“Not marrying or cohabiting is less detrimental among woman than men,” said Dr George Ploubidis at the time, a population health scientist at the UCL Institute of Education.

In other words, saying the equivalent 'I don't' and living a life of TV dinners-for-one is not as bad for you as some (read: your mother) would have you believe. Unmarried men, on the other hand, experienced a 14 per cent rise in a biomarker for heart problems. Unmarried women, in the sample of 10,000 testees, experienced little to no difference.

In single women a slightly higher level in a biomarker that signifies an increased risk of breathing problems was found but it was still far lower than the same risk in unmarried men.

More data to dispel the 'ball and chain' view of marriage comes from America's Institute for Family Studies which found that the benefits of marriage for men "are substantial by every conceivable measure, including more money, a better sex life, and significantly better physical and mental health".

What's more, married men were found to earn between 10 per cent and 40 per cent more than comparable singles.

Saying 'I do' could be the best thing a man ever does for his health and wallet whereas women can - according to the experts - take it or leave it. 

The Telegraph