Some new advice seems to align very well with traditional old advice that wise parents have given to young adults for ages it seems: marry your best friend. A new economic research paper has found that perhaps the best way to cope with life's inevitable stresses is to be married to a trusted partner. Married people tend to be happier in general and have a greater sense of life satisfaction than those who are not married, the study confirms.
Do Happy and Married Just Go Together?
Despite alarming trends that indicate that thirty percent of today's young adults well never marry, and divorce rates that show an early end to half of all marriages, marriage is consistently seen as a good bet for a satisfied life. Social science has long confirmed that married people are happier in general than those who are unmarried.
Experts have been unsure which came first, though, being happy, or becoming married that then led to being happier. The new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research controlled for pre-marriage happy in the participants, and now says that it is marriage that makes people happy and more satisfied with life. "Marriage may be most important when there is stress in life and when things are going wrong." notes Shawn Groves of the Canadian Department of Finance, one of the economists to author the study.
I Can Tell That We Are Going to be Friends
Another economists to author the paper, John Helliwell of Vancouver School of Economics, says the results may cause people to "rethink marriage as a whole, that maybe what is really important is friendship, and to never forget that." Many cultures and people have looked at marriage as a sort of strategic alliance in the past, arranging favorable matches between young members of two families that have many things in common, for instance.
Until there is more change in attitudes and acceptance of marriage for all in society and in the law, however, many people have used alternate arrangements that pretend toward marriage equivalent relationships such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Many people agree, though, that marriage is a unique relationship that has been recognized for centuries as a cornerstone of human society. Allowing all who want to participate in marriage with a loved one may be a key to building a more just and equitable society, with happiness for all.
Marriage Re-distribution Needed
Statistics show that well-educated, high-income people still marry at high rates and are less likely to divorce than less educated, less affluent individuals. It remains generally the poorer, less educated people who marry less and divorce at higher rates. Those very people, though, seem to be the ones who would benefit the most from the stabilizing, happiness-inducing marriage relationship with a trusted partner. "Those with most difficult and stressful lives could most benefit from marriage," notes Helliwell.
Many people today debate the definition of marriage. Others question the value of the institution, if half the people who start it end it a short time later. Many religions exclude people from marrying the person of their choice, thereby forbidding many individuals from enjoying the benefits of marriage. Perhaps a society that fosters a positive definition of marriage as a partnership between trusted individuals who desire to marry has a better start toward encouraging the benefits of marriage for all.
A spiritual system that encourages marriage between those who want to marry allows more people to enjoy the benefits of happiness and life satisfaction that marriage adds to life. A state and nation that permits marriage between all those who love one another and want to be together builds a stronger network of satisfied communities built on one of humankind's most fundamental and long-lasting interpersonal relationships: marriage.