On my way to intellectual triumph, I discovered a couple of things about married partners that do affect longevity. Research from the 1980s suggests that men married to less educated women have a lower risk of coronary heart disease than men married to women with more education, which explains why gentlemen prefer blondes. My first wife never went to college and Kellie never finished. Kellie arrived for class one day at Sacramento State, couldn’t find a parking space, and since it was raining, said, "Screw it," went home and never returned. Based upon the educational history of the two wives I've had so far, I should live a long time. That’s if Kellie doesn't kill me for writing this.
The age difference between a husband and wife also affects their health, but the effect is asymmetric. A man married to a woman 17 years his senior faces a 50% higher risk of dying than a man married to a woman 17 years his junior. For women, the relationship is more complicated. They minimize their mortality risk by marrying men whose age differs from their's by no more than one year. As the difference between a woman's age and her husband's increases, so does her risk of death, and the risk is larger if she marries a younger man.
|Figure courtesy of MPIDR|
Like many couples our age, Kellie and I have discussed death. She's never wanted life insurance, telling me, "Look at this body. This is my life insurance policy. I'll just get remarried." But after seventeen years of glorious, wedded bliss, any desire to remarry has been extinguished. "One marriage is enough,” declared Kellie. "Why would I ever do it again?” She’s much more amenable to life insurance now. I wonder if she’s worried about her assets depreciating.
If I should die first, a likely possibility for reasons already discussed, I told Kellie to keep me on life support as long as my heart will beat so she can continue collecting my pension. She doesn't have to come and visit me if I’m a vegetable, and she should remarry if she wants to. I just don’t want her having sex with her new husband, boyfriend, boy toy, fling, or one-night-stand in front of my comatose body, a reasonable request; I think.
Kellie insisted that I remain single, chaste even, if she died before me, but I’m the marrying type and can’t envision myself as a widower. I need someone to torment. She relented and said I could remarry, providing I kept her picture on my nightstand. As a courtesy to my new wife, Kellie said I could put her picture facedown while having sex. I know the younger, future Mrs. Cereola will appreciate that concession.
Kellie is back in college now, taking French and threatening my cardiovascular health. I can feel my arteries clogging, and that pain in my chest makes it difficult to believe that married men live longer than single men. Maybe it just feels that way.