Studies on happiness are nothing new. In fact, each day millions upon millions of people scour the internet or sort through self-help books, not to mention swallow bottles of wine in the eternal search for happiness. And of course, married people are no different. Many studies have been done in recent years to try and decide if married people are truly happy. Or are they just comfortable? Or are they stuck? The problem with measuring happiness is that it is always relative to the person being studied. And, most respondents to any type of happiness survey are likely not being completely honest.
The American Psychological Association study on levels of happiness indicates that married people are in fact happier than their single counterparts are. For most people, happiness is measured by a number of factors. One of course is financial security. Others are health, social life, job security, sexual pleasure, education, and of course, family. In most of these ‘measurable’ areas of happiness, married people always come out on top. Look at some of these stats.
Single men have a mortality rate that is 250% higher than that of married men. For women, the number sits at a comfortable 50% higher for single women than for those that wear a ring. Health studies indicate that having a spouse can reduce your chances of dying from diseases like cancer within ten years of diagnosis. The same is true for many other ailments such as heart disease. Psychologists suggest that having a spouse to lean on during times of emotional stress, and having a support system in place that will help empower you to get well is an important part of recovery. Additionally, married people generally partake in more routine visits to health care providers, are 45% more likely to participate in routine screenings like mammograms or colonoscopies, and are normally in better physical shape at the age of 50, than those people that stay single. Life expectancy rates for married people are also around ten years longer than they are for those people that stay single. In fact, one interesting fact is that there are more married people living to 65 and beyond than there are single folks. More than likely the improved health of married people is attributable to partners taking care of themselves for each other’s sake.
Mental health too is an issue in ‘measurable’ happiness. Among things like suicide rates, married people seem to fair much better. Psychological illnesses such as depression, anxiety, or stress are lower among couples than it is among single people. In around 90% of the happiness studies conducted, there are more married people that rate their lives as happy as opposed to people who remain single or are widowed. Contrary to popular belief, matrimonial bliss also does not cause people to drink. Health statistics among males, indicate that single men drink twice as often and twice as much as married men do.
One interesting statistic in the happiness quotient relates to sexuality. According to research, around 40% of married people have sex twice a week. This is considerably good news since there is so much hype surrounding sexless marriages these days. In these sexual relationships, 40% of the women and 50% of the men report to be satisfied with their sexual relationships. In non-married people, these numbers fall to around 38%, being sexually satisfied.
Financial security is also an aspect of general happiness. In marriages, couples experience more financial success and are often better equipped to plan for a fulfilling retirement. Additionally, married people often map out financial goals early in life and work together towards making their plans work. By doing this, they afford themselves more financial security, which can make them happier in the long run.
The real question however, is - are married people truly happy with their lives. With divorce rates dangerously flirting at the 50% mark, it is difficult to decide whether marriage is a key to happiness or not. Sure, in most instances that range from money to sex, marriage offers stability of sorts. This stability may reduce stress and therefore illness – and it may make people more comfortable in their lives, but is this necessarily happier.
In many studies of married couples, partners admit to feeling trapped in marriage. They also admit to losing a sense of themselves in the marriage and often feel confined by the parameters of marriage. There are also plenty of people who decidedly cheat on their spouses and who are caught in a vicious circle of believing that the grass on the other (single) side is always greener. Again, it all comes back to whom you ask and who is answering questions honestly.
Marriage can bring a lot of happiness. This happiness doesn’t grow immediately just because the seed is planted. It takes a lot of nurturing, time, and patience. In the course of a successful marriage, people grow and mature at varying rates, have often-irreconcilable differences, think about divorce an average of once every four days AND face often frightening and stressful situations. When they face these obstacles together and find ways to come together, they can end up happier in the long run.
Yet, despite all the statistics and research that seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of married people being happier overall, you have to wonder if it’s all true. Is marriage really that satisfying? Is all the work it takes to make two people able to live together and find happiness truly worth it? Is a good husband or a good wife really the answer to life’s troubles? If you were to honestly poll all the married people you know, would the happiness quotient be that high, especially if everyone involved was forced to honesty? Perhaps it all comes down to the fact that as humans, one of our most primal, instinctive and basic need is to feel supported and loved by another human. Whether we were meant to be monogamous or not, that is up to you to decide!