National Marriage Week is coming up quickly–February 7th to the 14th–and all across the world (literally) there are plans and celebrations to encourage many diverse groups to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and build a stronger marriage culture, which in turn helps curtail poverty and benefits children. So to prepare for the upcoming week and recognize the significance of marriage, I thought it would be fun to talk this week about making a case FOR marriage.
In the news recently, marriage overall has been taking quite a beating. There are scandals every day involving infidelity and bitter spouses divorcing. Steve Harvey’s wife claims his infidelity was “like rape to her.” There are studies released that supposedly say that up to 40% of Americans say marriage is “obsolete.” The media claims that other studies indicate that “Two women cheating with each other is okay!” Church leaders are blaming Facebook for the rise in infidelity and saying their parishioners have to delete their account or leave the church (Thou Shalt Not Use Facebook). Meanwhile the divorce rate is about 50% (which according to one comedienne is one of every two people–that means either you or your spouse–heehee).
Here at Affaircare, though, we are strong advocates for marriage and time and again, studies have proven that there are serious benefits to being in a committed, faithful marriage relationship. So to being thinking about National Marriage Week, here are just a few thoughts on why marriage IS relevant!
More and better sex
“Sexual activity is 25 percent to 300 percent greater for married couples versus the non-married, depending on age.” — Marriage and Sex, Discovery Health.
In 2006, British researchers reviewed the sexual habits of men in 38 countries and found that in every country, married men have more sex. (See the Men’s Health article)
About 40% of married people have sex twice a week, compared to 20-25% of single and cohabitating men and women. Over 40% of married women said their sex life was emotionally and physically satisfying, compared to about 30% of single women. For men, it’s 50% of married men are physically and emotionally contents versus 38% of cohabitating men. Waite and Gallagher note that cohabitating couples are less likely to be sexually faithful. Faithful partners do not worry about sexually translated diseases, are more likely to work to improve their sexual relationship, and do not have to worry about sexual jealousy. (Waite and Gallagher, “The Case for Marriage” 2000)
A Virginia Commonwealth University study found that married men earn 22 percent more than their similarly experienced but single colleagues. (See the article in Men’s Health magazine.)
Married men are more successful in work as well, getting promoted more often and receiving higher performance appraisals. They also miss work or arrive late less often (Kostiuk, P. & Follmann, D.A. “Learning Curves, Personal Characteristics, and Job Performance,” Journal of Labor Economics 1989; 7(2) 129-146,). As for women, white married women (without children) earn 4% more and black married women earn 10% more than their single peers (Waite, 1995). While some point out that house work for married women (37 hours per week) is greater than that of single women (25 hours), half of that is due to having children (South, S., & Spitze, G. (1994). Housework in marital and nonmarital households. american Sociological Review, 59, 327–347)
Married people live longer as well. Single men have mortality rates that are 250% higher than married men. Single women have mortality rates that are 50% higher than married women (Ross CE, Mirowsky J, Goldsteen K. (1990): The impact of the family on health: the decade in review. J Marriage Fam; 52:1059-78). Having a spouse can decrease your risk for dying from cancer as much as knocking ten years off your life. Single people spend longer in the hospital, and have a greater risk of dying after surgery (GOODWIN JS, HUNT WC, KEY CR AND SAMET J. (1987). The effect of marital status on stage, treatment and survival of cancer patients. J. Am. Med. Assoc., 258, 3125-3130.).
Based on life expectancies, nine of ten married men and women alive at age 48 are alive at 65, while only six of ten single men and eight of ten single women make it to 65. Married men may have better immune systems as well, either from support or from nagging to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, etc… and may be at less risk to catch colds (SOCIABILITY AND SUSCEPTIBILITY TO THE COMMON COLD)
For both men and women, marriage lengthens the life span. This benefit increases with the duration of the union. Married men live, on average, 10 years longer than nonmarried men, and married women live about four years longer than nonmarried women.(Waite and Gallagher)
A UCLA study found that people in generally excellent health were 88 percent more likely to die over the 8-year study period if they were single. (The Men’s Health article is right here.)
A new study finds that people who have never married have the highest risk of death in the United States, contrasting with other studies that have found the highest risk in divorced, separated or widowed populations. There are many reasons married people tend to be healthier, not the least of which is they tend to be wealthier. Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the new study finds that, compared with married people, people who are widowed are 40 percent more likely to die, people who are divorced or separated are 27 percent more likely to die, and people who have never married were 58 percent more likely to die. ( The Effects of Marriage on Health)
Married men are half as likely to commit suicide as single men, and one third as likely as divorced men. Married people report lower levels of depression and distress, and 40% say they are very happy with their lives, compared to about 25% in single people. Married people were half as likely to say they were unhappy with their lives.(Smith, Mercy, and Conn, 1988 “Marital Status and the Risk of Suicide“).
Overall, 40 percent of married people, compared with about a quarter of singles or cohabitors, say they are “very happy” with life in general. Married people are also only about half as likely as singles or cohabitors to say they are unhappy with their lives. This is not just an American phenomenon. One recent study by Steven Stack and J. Ross Eshleman (1998 “Marital Status and Happiness: A Comparative Analysis.” Journal of Marriage and the Family. 60 (MAY): 527-536) of 17 developed nations found that “married persons have a significantly higher level of happiness than persons who are not married,” even after controlling for gender, age, education, children, church attendance, financial satisfaction, and self-reported health. Further, “the strength of the association between being married and being happy is remarkably consistent across nations.”
In a paper called “I just want to get married- I don’t care to who! Marriage, Life Satisfaction and Educational Differences in Australian Couples” doctoral candidate Shane Worner of Australian National University reports that married people are happier than unmarried people, and men who marry educated women are happier than men who marry uneducated women.