Your spouse really is the keeper of your heart

"It is not good that the man should be alone."

That's a quote straight out of Genesis, as God tells us why he designed man and woman to be together. Or, as another passage from Genesis puts it, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

I'm not here to teach a Sunday school lesson. I'm pointing this out because modern science has backed this Biblical wisdom time and again, with studies showing that being single is bad for your health.

And one new study finds that being married -- joining with a spouse as "one flesh" -- will protect you from one of today's leading killers: cardiovascular disease.

Overall, married people are 5 percent less likely to experience any form of cardiovascular disease, including peripheral artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, and coronary artery disease.

The younger you are, the bigger the benefit of becoming "one flesh" with your spouse. If you're married and under the age of 50, for example, the risk drops by 12 percent. Between 51 and 60, the risk falls by 7 percent. Over the age of 61, marriage still offers a 4 percent advantage.

Of course, even the happiest of marriages will end eventually -- and the new study confirms that when you tear apart the "one flesh," those risks shoot up again.

Being widowed, for example, will cause your risk of any form of cardiovascular disease to jump by 3 percent, while divorce will boost those odds by 5 percent, according to the survey of more than 3.5 million Americans between the ages of 21 and 99.

Marriage also keeps us healthy in other ways. Married people, for example, are less likely to smoke and be obese, in part because they want to be healthy for each other. And when they get sick, married people are more likely to seek help -- in part because there's a spouse urging them to see a doctor.

That's what happens when you have someone else to live for.

So if you're married, take a moment tonight to thank your spouse. You're not only keeping each other from being alone.

You're keeping each other alive.