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8 Stunning Scientific Ways In Which Marriage Correlates To Happiness

With the race to the altar becoming more of a sprint than a marathon, more and more people get ‘on their marks’ without assessing whether they are competent to win the marital race. While our generation is slower in participating, seems like science is exhorting them to compete. Yes, science reveals that marriage offers a huge draw – enhanced happiness. After all, if marriage is seen as bliss-enabler, isn’t it so much better when the race to the coveted trophy of lasting happiness is kick-started by Science’s enthusiastic whistle??

couple forming a heart with their hands

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Suggested read: Don’t plan a wedding, plan a marriage

According to a new study, which comes from the National Bureau of Economic Research in Canada, and has used combined data from the British Household Panel Survey, the United Kingdom’s Annual Population Survey, and the Gallup World Poll, married people are seen to report higher levels of overall happiness than unmarried people. The data used in the research has allowed authors Shawn Grover, a policy analyst at Canada’s Department of Finance and John Helliwell, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia to gauge life satisfaction levels of individuals pre- and post-marriage. It was found that life satisfaction follows a U-shape trajectory, deteriorating through early adulthood and bottoming out in the late 40s before picking up again. The “U” is steeper and deeper for unmarried people. Married people are seen to have an even U, thus, reporting higher and enhanced levels of satisfaction with their life-quality.

Here are the top eight ways in which marriage correlates to happiness levels:

1. There is a causal relationship between marriage and life satisfaction

couple watching tv1

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Grover and Helliwell poured over data from the surveys deployed in their research to pin down a definite answer to the debate stemming from the contention – Is the increase in happiness levels an effect of correlation or causation? The answer, Grover asserts is, “married individuals are more satisfied, suggesting a causal effect, even after full allowance is made for selection effects.” Marriage is shown to bolster overall levels of happiness and satisfaction with life for the average individual.

Suggested read: 6 roles your soul mate needs to fit in effortlessly

2. Married people tend to be healthier, more social, and live longer than their single counterparts

friends hanging out

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The study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Canada suggests that married people tend to be healthier, more social, and live longer than their single counterparts. Several studies have shown that married couples experience lower levels of cancer, heart disease, depression, and stress. The health benefits are even more pronounced for married individuals than for couples who are simply cohabiting.

Suggested read: 10 reason why the institution of marriage is dead for the modern generation

3. Marriage provides a unique kind of social support that results in increased well-being

couple hugging3

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The researchers found that any dip in happiness/satisfaction levels, as is common in middle age, like coping with work pressure or providing for their children is aided by the union that binds partners together. Marriage helps navigate the mid-life crisis as well as promote well-being by providing the cushioning for things that may weigh one down. It isn’t necessary that such an effect may be experienced in middle age alone. Marriage provides a strong sense of comfort and support that edifies one’s relationship and builds the confidence to brave life’s challenges. This, in turn, supplements the well-being of the partners.

“Having someone to talk that out with and having someone to support you in those difficult times can help explain why it’s a bit harder for people without a partner,” says Grover.

Suggested read: A letter to my future hubby – things I’d do keep you happy

4. Getting married to one’s best friend is twice as beneficial than marrying a lover who does not double up as a best friend

couple hugging3

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The effects of the partnership outlined above were shown to have the strongest result for couples for whom the partnership/union wasn’t merely steeped in romantic love or lust, but a solid and robust friendship. The research found that those individuals who had found their ‘best friend’ in their spouse were seen to experience the highest levels of happiness. In fact, it was noted that the well-being benefits of such an association were twice as large than the other couples.

Suggested read: 10 fights between couples that strengthen their bond

5. An attractive wife= happier marriage

couple cuddling on a bench

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Surprised much??? A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that those with an attractive wife tend to have a more satisfying marriage. While the finding can be contested based on what ‘ideals’ of beauty or attractiveness does one have in mind whilst reporting such a correlation, psychologist Andrea Meltzer notes that spousal attractiveness does have a direct effect on marital bliss. This holds only for the men. Wives, on the other hand, reported an enhanced level of satisfaction, albeit in an indirect manner. They said the happier hubbies kept them happy too!

Suggested read: A bad marriage can break your heart – quite literally!

6. Gut reaction to your spouse is a potent indicator of marital happiness

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A study published in the journal Science has shown that individual gut feelings about the relationship is a near-accurate predictor of the likelihood of marital bliss. James K. McNulty, an associate professor of psychology, studied 135 newlywed couples for four years and found that feelings initially verbalized in interviews or even heart-to-heart conversations held no clout and bore zero correlation with marital satisfaction. This held true, even when individuals averred that they were madly in love with their partners. However, McNulty noted that ‘gut feelings,’ as measured by a computer test, played a major role in determining a couple’s long-term happiness. Those with positive gut feelings were much happier in their nuptials as against those who had negative gut-level reactions.

Suggested read: Breakup or makeup – signs to help make that choice

7. Marriage is more important for happiness than salary or owning a home

couple watching a movie

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According to the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics, who surveyed 165,000 British people, marriage is shown to hold a twenty times larger bearing on satisfaction levels than one’s earnings or property possession. According to the findings, marriage was the third most important factor related to happiness and well-being, after health and employment status.

Suggested read: A letter to my dear future hubby – things I’d love for you to do

8. The Honeymoon phase is a myth

soul mate

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Most people believe that the first few years of a marriage are the happiest and need to be lived to the fullest before the grotesque realities of ‘marriage’ seep in. However, research by Grover and Helliwell shows that the ‘honeymoon phase’ is a pure myth. There is no doubt about the first couple of years being a period of ‘high’ in the matrimonial journey; however, they also assert that there is no major dip in the satisfaction levels associated with the marriage once the ‘high’ of the honeymoon phase starts to ebb.

Helliwell avers,

“Yes, the first year or two of marriage may have been the happiest, but participants didn’t simply adapt to the boost and change their baseline accordingly — they continued to consciously enjoy the benefits of marriage in the long-term, far beyond the honeymoon.”

Suggested read: 6 shared experiences to bring a couple closer in the first year of marriage

However, it is important to note that marriage is not the only type of close relationship that matters. People in strong relationships are also shown to reap long-term health benefits and report increased levels of happiness. Whilst one may contest if such studies take into account those who have been married, hated it or are divorced/separated or widowed besides the singles, it must be pointed out that the Grover and Helliwell’s study “compared those who were ever married — including people who were divorced, widowed, and/or separated — to single people and still found that the people who chose to marry at one point were happier on average.” Interestingly enough, long-term partners who were living together experienced about three-quarters more enhanced levels of satisfaction and happiness than those who were married.

“We do think it’s more about that social relationship than the legal status,” Grover said. “Marriage, in a sense, is a super friendship.”

Since the study is a collation of aggregate data, the researchers do not imply that every person will be happier married – just the average individual. So, though, we cannot give a definite nod to ‘want to be happy? Get married’ equation, we can definitely say that finding a ‘super friend’ in your spouse may help you weather all storms and enjoy the sunshine too! Okay, let’s add the rain dance! Of course, you need to ‘want’ to be married too!!

Featured image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

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8 stunning scientific ways in which marriage correlates to happiness
We recently wrote how strong relationships = happier and healthier life! Now we want to show how marriage correlates to happiness! Read on to know more!
Sejal Parikh

Sejal Parikh

"I'm a hurricane of words but YOU can choose the damage I do to you..."