More from that Time magazine cover package about modern love: Being married is awesome. Just ask Miriam Kamin: Kamin went through some tough experiences: endometriosis, a divorce, single parenting. Then last year she got married, and now everything is A-OK! "I've struggled with depression for most of my life," she says. "Yet... I'm not on medication right now. I had no idea marriage was supposed to be this much fun." Is marriage the new Prozac? For some. For others, it's like joining a convent. Carrie Jones tells the Daily Mail she hasn't had sex with her husband in four years, and she doesn't want to. "It's a sort of 'Frigid Jones' Diary'," she says.
But back to happy marriages: According to Time, "A 2006 paper that tracked mortality over an eight-year period found that people who never married were 58% likelier to die during that time than married folks were. Married people have lower rates of all types of mental illnesses and suicide." What's more, James Coan, a neuroscientist from the University of Virginia, says that a husband is just as good as Advil.
Coan and his colleagues conducted an experiment in which married women underwent brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). During the scans, the women were told they were going to receive a painful electric shock. The researchers then watched to see how the subjects' brains responded to the threat and found that among happily married women, hypothalamus activity declined sharply if husbands held their wives' hands during the experiment. Women who reported being less satisfied with their marriage—and women whose hands were held by strangers—got little such relief ... "This suggests," he says, "that your spouse may function as an analgesic."
Tell it to sexless Ms. Jones, who says, "Providing a stable home for children is totally incompatible with having an exciting sex life. The two things are violently at odds." And, she adds, "After umpteen years with the same person, sex is bound to get boring." So which is it? Is marriage an amazing cure-all? Or a trap sure to eventually bring boredom and a yearning to jump in the sack with someone new? (If this is all too depressing for you, check out the Time slide show of animal kingdom love lives, or Salon's story on the joys of being single.)
Related: One Is The Loveliest Number [Salon]