Lucy Porter: Marriage might be good for you, but Crunchie bars are better

Share
Related Topics

Yesterday an article headlined "Why marriage leads to a long life" caught my eye. On reading that headline, one's first thought is inevitably the old joke: married people don't live longer – it just feels that way.

It wasn't so much the headline as the picture that drew me in. Why is it that all articles about marriage are illustrated with the same image? You know the one with a bride in a dazzling white dress and a groom in dapper morning suit. These model newlyweds are always emerging from a picturesque church into glorious sunshine, cheered on by a photogenic, confetti-throwing crowd.

Is that really a representative photo of the typical British wedding? If any picture editor wants to phone me, they'd be welcome to use one of my snaps, which I think are a lot more typical. They can choose from "odd-looking couple smile awkwardly in the drizzle amid random smokers on the registry office steps" or "drunk men attempt to re-create breakdance moves of their youth, broken chins ensue".

The article itself also felt like something I'd seen before. Newspapers often feature pieces that extol the health-giving virtues of matrimony. I never trust people who are evangelical about marriage. I presume it's because they're unhappily married themselves, and misery loves company. Maybe newspaper editorial meetings are like the scene in Tod Browning's Freaks where all the circus exhibits chant "gooble gobble, gooble gobble, one of us".

This particular take on how brilliant marriage is was based on an article in the Student BMJ. Doctors John and David Gallacher cited a European study that had found husbands and wives had 10 to 15 per cent lower mortality rates than the population as a whole. I suppose this could be taken to suggest that marriage improves one's health. As a cynic, I prefer to think that there are just lots of couples who hate each other so much that their attitude is "You just watch, I'll outlive you if it's the last thing I do!".

I'd also bet that, because these data deal with mortality rates, the study in question probably examined people who got married a while ago – presumably in the 1960s and 70s at the latest. I reckon things have changed, and I'm not so sure that marriage is that healthy any more.

Anecdotally, most of the couples I know who are the kind of middle-class types you might expect to be quite virtuous actually chuck back the booze like peasants with free milk. If single people from our generation are inclined to binge drink, marrieds do so even more – particularly if they have children. Most parents I know can put a child to bed with one hand and operate a corkscrew with the other. Then they inhale as much shiraz as is humanly possible in the window between little Iolanthe's bedtime and when they themselves drift off in front of the TV.

Even if single people are indulging in risky sexual activity, at least they're getting some exercise. Married people arrive home from work shattered, have a row and are barely able to manage a chaste cuddle before bed. And we have to work off a lot of calories. Before I was married I barely ate. Last week I made something from Nigella's kitchen that involved crumbling Crunchie bars into melted chocolate.

I suspect that in 30 years' time, studies will show that our generation of married people isn't really that healthy at all. Even if that's not the case, I don't really think that the health aspect of things dictates people's romantic choices. I've never heard anyone say they got married because it was that or join the gym. Personally, I don't think there's much to choose between the two. I've known divorces that were less messy than attempting to get released from a contract with the Virgin Active gym in Crouch End.

So much as I'd like to believe that I'm going to live longer because I'm married, I'm not going to bank on it. I'll just console myself with one of Nigella's Crunchie treats.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: With 100 days still to go how will Cameron, Miliband and Co. keep us all engaged?

Andrew Grice
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea