Being a widow can be good for a woman's health because they suffer less stress after her husband dies, according to new research.
Women who have lost a spouse are much less likely to suffer frailty in their twilight years than peers whose partners are still very much alive.
But the same is not the case for men who become more at risk of wasting away once their wife dies - possibly because they have become over reliant on them.
Dr Caterina Trevisan, of the University of Padova, said the presence of a wife may bring benefits for men in terms of household management and healthcare, whereas women are 'more likely to feel stressed and find their role restrictive and frustrating.'
She explained: 'Since women generally have a longer lifespan than men, married women may also suffer from the effects of caregiver burden, since they often devote themselves to caring for their husband in later life.'
Dr Trevisan said these factors may be behind the lower risk of depression in unmarried women following research revealing women had more marital problems and less wellness in marriage than men.
The same study also found single women experienced less discomfort than bachelors, greater job satisfaction and higher activity levels at work, and a lower risk of social isolation, as they maintained stronger relationships with family or friends.
Dr Trevisan said: 'Consistently with this picture, the higher educational level and better economic status seen among the single women in our study may well reflect a social condition that would promote a greater psychological and physical well being.
'Finally, widows cope better than widowers with the stress deriving from the loss of a partner and widowhood, with a significant increase in the risk of depression only in the latter.
'Many studies have shown that women are less vulnerable to depression than men in widowhood, probably because they have greater coping resources and are better able to express their emotions.
'These aspects may help to explain the lower risk of exhaustion seen in single women, who are likewise more socially integrated than single men, and consequently less exposed to frailty.'