It has become a cliché in our society for guys to fiercely hold onto their independence and avoid getting married for as long as they can. Along these lines, the image of the single guy who is free to do as he pleases, whenever he pleases, holds a prominent place in the male psyche.

Well, for all you single guys out there who embrace this ideology, here is some food for thought. It turns out that men who are in happy marriages have a lower risk for fatal strokes. In the first study of its kind, investigators may have found a link between stroke risk and the quality of married life.

To arrive at their findings, researchers collected data from 10,000 men regarding their marital status and levels of happiness. A follow-up study conducted 34 years later determined how many of these men had died from a stroke. Within the group, single men had a 64% higher risk of dying from a stroke than married men. When the issue of happiness in marriage was considered, men who were unhappy with their marriages also had a 64% higher risk of a fatal stroke than those men who were happily married. About 4% of the men reported being completely satisfied and happy in their marriages.

The data was adjusted for such factors as age and other health-related parameters. The findings, however, are only preliminary, taking into account only a few of the significant variables that may influence the incidence of stroke. Furthermore, the study only considered men who experienced fatal strokes, not the ones who survived, and no data was collected on women. It does, however, open the doors for more in-depth studies regarding this topic.

Previous inquiry has supported the fact that happy marriages have many benefits, while unhappy marriages can entail adverse health consequences. However, the study of happiness is not without its fair share of inherent difficulties, especially when the information is dependent upon the honesty and candor of the research subjects. Happiness can also change over time and be affected by such issues as medication and lifestyle choices.

With this in mind, the authors of the study stress that more research needs to be done before any solid conclusions can be drawn, so their data should only be considered a first step towards a better understanding of this phenomenon.

Nonetheless, there is something to be said about having a good outlook on life, and for many adults, marriage can be a major part of this equation. After all, research has suggested that happiness can promote good cardiovascular health, prevent illness, and even potentially reduce our risk for certain cancers. And laughing, which is arguably a positive indicator happiness, has also been found to have positive health benefits.

Regardless of what the experts tell us, I think it’s fair to say that most of us are familiar with the fact that being happy just makes life more enjoyable, and when that happiness is shared with your family, it can have a deeper and more meaningful impact on our lives.

Mind you, I’m not promoting the idea that every person should get married and have children. To each their own. However, I have found that really embracing your role as a husband and a father does give added meaning to your life experiences.

Sure, it’s not always easy, but sometimes the best things in life don’t come easy. Unfortunately, this sometimes includes being happy.