For married couples there are a few benefits to being married. Such as good physical and mental health, economic stability, and a fulfilling sex life. These benefits do not come just from being married, but by working hard to make their marriage good and fulfilling.
Physical Health Benefits
Across demographic groups, societies, and cultures it is a statistical reality that married people live longer (source 1). Married people have fewer risk-taking behaviors such as drug abuse, drunk driving, and smoking, as well as lower rates of suicide and alcoholism (source 2). Some people may argue that this is because those who are already healthy are the ones getting married and the unhealthy-risk-takers are the ones who are remaining single. This argument postulates that marriage by itself is not the cause of physical health benefits. It is true that marriage is not the sole variable for health. However, there is research that suggests that there are positive changes that happen after marriage, along with negative changes that occur when a marriage dissolves (source 3).
Mental Health Benefits
It is reported that married people, as opposed to cohabiting couples, never married individuals, and divorcees, have lower rates of depression and suffer less from psychiatric disorders (source 4). Like the physical health benefits of marriage this extends across race, cultures, and social economic classes. Perhaps an argument can be made that it is the mentally healthy people who are getting married and the mentally unhealthy are the ones who remain single. To counter this argument research suggest, like with physical health benefits, that there are positive changes for individuals after they are married and negative changes when a marriage ends (source 5).
Couples who are married are wealthier and spend less than divorced, never married, and widowed people. Married couples save more and live on less than they make. All this doesn’t mean that married couples are living an affluent life. What it does mean is that married people have access to food and clothing, to education, to health care, and to security from crime infested neighborhoods. As far as poverty goes, children are most likely to be protected from this when they grow up in a stable two-parent family (source 6).
It may go against popular belief that a more fulfilling sexual relationship can be found between two faithfully married people as opposed to sex outside of marriage. Hollywood may portray married couples as losing that spark once they get married, but research suggests that faithfully married couples are well satisfied with their sex lives (source 7).
In ending it should be said that the key to having these benefits in your marriage is to make sure you are working hard to have a good fulfilling marriage for both you and your spouse. Without the hard work that marriage requires it will be harder to enjoy the benefits that marriage can offer.
- L.A. Lillard and L. J. Waite (1995). ‘Til death do us part: Marital disruption and mortality, American Journal of Sociology, 100, 113.
- Lillard and Waite (1995); Stanton (1997); J.A. Burr, P.L. McCall, and E. Powell-Griner (1994), Catholic religion and suicide: the mediating effect of divorce, Social Science Quarterly, 75, 300-318; Coombs (1991); L.N. Robins and D.A. Regier, (1991). Psychiatric disorders in America: The epidemiologic catchment area study (New York: Free Press).
- Stanton (1997); W. R. Gove, C.B. Style and M. Hughes, The effect of marriage on the well-being of adults: A theoretical analysis, Journal of Family Issues, 11, 4-35: S. Nock (1998); S. Stack and J.R. Eshleman (1998), Marital status and happiness: A 17-nation study, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 527-536.
- Robins and Regier (1991); Stanton (1997).
- C.E. Ross (1995), Reconceptualizing marital status as a continuum of social attachment, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 129.
- R.J. Shapiro (1990, September 27), The family under economic stress, in E.C. Karmack and W.A. Galston (Eds.), Putting children first: A progressive family policy for the 1990s, Whitepaper from the Progressive Policy Institute, 12.
- Michael et al. (1994); E.O. Laumann, A. Paik, and R.C. Rosen (1999), Sexual dysfunction in the United States: Prevalence and predictors, Journal of the American Medical Association, 281, 537-544.