The study, published in Health Psychology, found marriage in general is linked to higher survival rates for men, and the more satisfying the marriage, the higher the rate of survival.
Lead author Kathleen King, professor emerita from the School of Nursing at the University of Rochester, says unhappy marriages provide virtually no survival bonus for women but satisfying unions increase a woman's survival rate almost four-fold.
"Wives need to feel satisfied in their relationships to reap a health dividend," study co-author Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, says. "But the payoff for marital bliss is even greater for women than for men."
The researchers tracked 225 people who had bypass surgery from 1987 and 1990. Fifteen years after surgery, 83 percent of happily wedded wives were still alive, vs. 28 percent of women in unhappy marriages and 27 percent of unmarried women.
The survival rate for contented husbands was also 83 percent, but even the not-so-happily married had a 60 percent survival rate, better than the 36 percent rate for unmarried men, the study found.