There are known benefits to being married and in a long-term relationship rather than being single, divorced, or cohabiting. The list below shows health benefits from the cohabitation and marriage study of the National Survey of Family Growth. Better mental and physical health with better medical insurance coverage prove to be crucial qualities for marrieds. As far as children are concerned, having better care and better adult outcomes are crucial factors.
Health Benefits Known to be an Advantage among Married Persons in the U.S.
- Generally better mental and physical health outcomes
- Longer lives
- Higher rates of health insurance coverage
- Lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease
- Better health and well-being of children
- Children born to unmarried mothers are at greater risk for poverty, teen childbearing, poor school achievement, and marital disruption in adulthood than children born to married mothers
There are also known financial benefits when comparing marrieds to non-marrieds. More wealth accumulation, higher assets, and higher monthly income are consistent among marrieds. The first thing you notice is that marrieds have consistently higher annual incomes. In 2007 specifically, marrieds had $28,231 more income than single men and $42,293 more than single women. The difference is even more pronounced if both incomes are taken into consideration for dual income marrieds (i.e., in 2007 dual income couples had $86,435 which is $42,077 higher than single men and $56,139 more than single women).
Married people are also safer and less prone to get into trouble than others. There is a buffering effect that accompanies having a life-long devoted spouse who helps deflect stress and hardships on a daily basis. Thus some of the health benefits of longer life, less suicide, more stable health coverage, and less illness and addiction. Also, marrieds have more social support, more continuity in long-term relationships, and especially more closeness for men in intimate family relationships. Husbands are less likely to abuse and be violent toward their wives than are boyfriends and partners. Married people have clear life-long goals and tend to buy homes, invest, and plan for retirement more than others. The government and military recognize spouses and reward them with tax breaks, benefits, and other sources of coverage and support more than others. In later life, many elderly report that their family relationships are very supportive and important to them. Studies show that the elderly enjoy their human investment in their children and grandchildren that yields emotional and social rewards throughout their golden years.
Known Benefits Enjoyed by Married Couples in Comparison to Non-Married Persons.
- Less likely to become victims of crime
- Less likely to commit crimes
- Less addiction
- Fewer accidents (especially among men)
- Less suicide
- Better stress management because spouse is a buffer to life's stresses
- More social and emotional support (less loneliness)
- More intimate connections to family members
- Long-term continuity in family relationships of children, in-laws, grandchildren, etc.
- Lower risk of domestic violence for women
- Longer life expectancies
- More and better self-rated sex
- More emotional and financial security (for both spouses)
- Less uncertainty about direction of life and goals
- More cost effective to live in married versus single circumstances
- Tax deductions
- More military benefits
- More accumulated belongings and investments
- More medical benefits
- More legal rights
To legally marry in the United States today, one simply goes to the local county or state office and applies for a state marriage license. The state also claims authority in granting divorce rights to couples. Divorce is the legal dissolution of a previously granted marriage. Most marriages still endure, and the odds are that divorce won’t happen to most marriages. It is a myth that one in two marriages eventually ends in divorce. There are a few myths about U.S. divorce trends that will be dispelled in this chapter. You might have heard the myth of the Seven Year Itch where divorce happens prior to or shortly after the 7th year. Current government estimates indicate that about 75% of couples make their ten-year anniversary in their first marriage. The myths are false, but divorce does happen more today than it did 50 years ago and more people today are currently divorced than were currently divorced 50 years ago.
Ten Actions to Minimize the Risk of Divorce:
- Wait until at least 20 years old to marry, 25 is better.
- Avoid premarital pregnancy and don’t marry just because of a pregnancy.
- Become proactive in maintaining your marriage (books, seminars, counseling).
- Understand risks of cohabitation (cohabitation ≠ divorce).
- Once married, leave the marriage market; don’t keep an eye open for something better.
- Learn to compromise with each other. Work around those irreconcilable differences.
- Keep a positive outlook and look beyond today.
- Take your time in selecting a mate. Don’t rush into marriage.
- Take the media with a grain of salt. Don’t assume your marriage will be like the headlines.
- Focus on the positive benefits of being married and don’t dwell on the negatives.