If the sound of wedding bells while you walk down the aisle getting ready to say 'I do' gives you cold feet, it's time to put your worries aside. Married couples tend to live longer than singles. A study conducted at Duke University Medical Center examined the marital history and the timing of mortality during midlife, tested the role of pre-marital personality and the role of health risks behaviors in 4,802 participants who were born during the 1940s. Researchers found that a marriage partner during middle age is protected against midlife mortality whereas those who were never married were more than twice as likely to die as adults. Although scientific evidence indicates an increased lifespan within married couples, marriage rates have steadily declined since the 1960s. According to the Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data, barely half of all Americans are married — with a bride and groom's first marriage at 26.5 and 28.7 years old, respectively.

"Marriage has become much more selective, and that's why the divorce rate has come down," said Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, reports The Economist. Americans have become more cautious in choosing a life partner. The fear of financial instability and trust issues arise before tying the knot among many couples. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 50 percent of all marriages end up in divorce and 80 percent of these divorces are filed by women. If you are among the 40 percent of Americans who are uncertain about whether to get married or not — or if you make up the 50 percent who are married — it's time to weight in on the health benefits of marriage that increase you and your partner's longevity.

Marriage Helps You Avoid Risky Behavior

Prior to a year before their wedding date, men begin to reduce their risk-taking patterns like drinking and smoking. In an article published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, researchers examined the married-happiness relationship and the cohabitation-happiness link, and if it applies to both sexes, using data from 17 national surveys. Based on a multiple regression analysis, researchers found a positive correlation between marital status and happiness in 16 of the 17 nations in the study. In comparison to cohabitation, marriage was 3.4 times more closely associated with happiness — at the same rate in both men and women. Wives were found to improve a family's diet and decrease risky behavior in their spouses, which bred positive views on life.

Marriage Helps Decrease Risk of Cancer

Married men can thank their spouses because marriage may also improve their survival from bladder cancer. In a study conducted at the University of North Carolina, researchers examined 202 married versus unmarried patients who were undergoing cystectomy for bladder cancer and took into account the impact of marital status on demographic, peri-operative, and pathological outcomes. Researchers found that out of 202 patients, 74 percent were married, and these married individuals appeared to have improved pre-operative laboratory variables, shorter hospital stays, and improved pathological outcomes, compared to the unmarried patients in the study. The psychosocial support is said to boost the body's immune system, but further research still needs to be done, says Harvard Medical School.

Marriage Helps Decrease Risk of Bad Coronary Diagnosis

Middle-aged married couples have been linked to a better diagnosis when experiencing coronary events before reaching the hospital and even after reaching the hospital. In a Finnish study published in European Society of Cardiology, researchers compiled data from people over the age of 35 living in four different region in Finland — including all fatal and non-fatal coronary events. Over a period of 10 years, there were 15,330 acute cardiac syndromes (ACS) incidences — with half resulting in a fatality 28 days after the initial attack — occurring at the same rate between men and women. Researchers found that the incidence of ACS was 58 to 65 times higher among unmarried men and women than their married counterparts. The case fatality rate of 35- to 64-year-old single men and women was also found to be higher than those who cohabitated with one or more people.

Marriage Helps Increase Sex

Married men have more sex than non-married in a 12-month period. According to the Kinsey Institute, 23 percent of non-married men go a year without sex compared to one percent of married men. Meanwhile, 36 percent of married men have sex two to three times a week whereas only 19 percent of single guys engage in the same amount of sexual activity over the course of the week. Sexual desire is maintained in marriages because the spouses get motivated to meet their partner's sexual needs even if it conflicts with their own. The idea behind this theory is that they hope their partner will "return the favor" and put their needs first instead of their own to show equal reciprocity in the relationship.