Are Married People Happier Than Singles?

Happy Attractive Loving Couple Portrait in the Park.

Brace yourself, single readers. Studies say the answer is yes. Before you attack me because YOU’RE happy, dammit, please read the rest of this blog post.

“Psychologists have pointed to marriage as the single most reliable happiness indicator. Across nations and ethnic groups, people report greater happiness from marriage than career, community or money [source: Seligman]. A 2005 survey from the Pew Research Center substantiates these assertions. Forty-three percent of married respondents reported that they were “very happy,” compared to 24 percent of unmarried individuals [source: Pew Research Center]. Those results were consistent for all age groups and genders.”

Now let’s clarify, so we can’t be misunderstood in the comments section*:

1. Marriage isn’t a guarantee of happiness. 48% of marriages end in divorce.
2. Single people can be very happy. In fact 24% of singles self-report as very happy.
3. No one here is judging you if you’re single. If anything, I’m just reiterating what you already know – life with love can be really, really nice – that’s why you ended up on a dating coach’s site. If you weren’t interested in love, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

The article poses an important follow up to the observation that married people have greater potential to become very happy. “As any good scientist knows, correlation does not always equal causation. To close the case on whether marital bliss trumps the single life, we must deduce which comes first: happiness or marriage?” Here’s what the author discovered:

Humans are predisposed to certain happiness ranges depending on their genetics, personality and life circumstances.

“Michigan State University found that spouses exhibited an uptick in happiness soon after marriage. Then, those happiness levels gradually returned to their premarital state. This pattern is comparable to the effects of sudden financial improvement on people’s happiness. For people living with relatively low incomes, money can buy happiness for a while. Yet the longer someone gets used to having more cash on hand, the more it loses its luster.”

I thought this paragraph did a great job of summing up a possible reason that married people are happier, despite the possibility of divorce – they’re wired that way (just like extroverts, by the way): “This doesn’t negate the survey results that show higher happiness rates among married people. Rather, it has led some psychologists to conjecture that married people are merely more inclined toward happiness since they’re happier to begin with. Humans are predisposed to certain happiness ranges depending on their genetics, personality and life circumstances. Also, happier people are generally more social, and it follows that people who actively socialize will be more likely to meet someone they’d like to marry.”

Finally, the article points out that marriage isn’t a panacea and doesn’t, in and of itself, create happiness. It’s important to be a selfless and self-aware partner, fully cognizant of the sacrifices inherent in being part of a couple. You need to have realistic expectations, as I’m consistently preaching in this space.

Marriage won’t magically create happiness, which makes personal character development during the single years even more important.”

“A study from the University of Florida highlighted a relationship between the skills that people bring to a marriage and people’s anticipation for how much marriage will improve their lives. If partners have overly high expectations for marriage transforming their lives into in a joyous wonderland, they need to have the relationship skills to match. Otherwise, it’s like going to a spelling bee expecting first place without ever cracking a dictionary.

As we’ve learned from happiness surveys, wedding bells can portend happy futures. But happily ever after requires more than an “I do.” Marriage won’t magically create happiness, which makes personal character development during the single years even more important.”

That’s what we’re trying to do here. Learn to understand the opposite sex, how to date online and off, and how to make smart relationship decisions that can lead you to a happy marriage.

*Footnotes*

1. Marriage isn’t a guarantee of happiness. 48% of marriages end in divorce.
Yes, but this statistic is highly skewed by astronomically high divorce rates for people who get married under the age of 25 and people who have lower education. If you’re a college educated woman who gets married after 30, you have over an 80% chance of having a lasting marriage.

2. Single people can be very happy. In fact 24% of singles self-report as very happy. Yes, but 43% of married couples do the same.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Karl R

    Morris said: (#30)
    “What if I said people who play SOCCER are happier than people who didn’t play SOCCER?”
     
    Then you could justifiably claim that playing soccer was an indicator of happiness … which is exactly the same claim that Seligman and the Pew Research study stated.
     
    You can’t claim that it’s the cause of the happiness (without additional support). But neither the article nor the underlying study make that claim … and Evan didn’t make that claim either.
     
    Morris said: (#26)
    “The article was twisting things to fit IT’S narrative because it was comparing people in a relationship(marriage) with people who may or may not be in a relationship(un-married).  And trying to infer that MARRIAGE was the difference maker.”
     
    Is that your only complaint?
     
    Look up the following study:
    Ellen Verbake, “Subjective Well-Being by Partnership Status and Its Dependence on the Normative Climate,” European Journal of Population 28.2 [May 2012]: 205–232
     
    According to Ellen Verbake’s study:
    “Subjective well-being varies by partnership status, with married individuals reporting the highest level of well-being, followed (in order) by cohabiting, dating, single, and finally divorced or widowed individuals.”
    “Overall, the variation in well-being is quite substantial.”
     
    Are you still going to claim that the authors of the article were “twisting things”? They could have supported their statement to your satisfaction just by adding one more study.
     
    Morris said: (#26)
    “Back to the article.  They should have been trying to prove being in a relationship made people happier.”
     
    It’s statements like this that convince me you have no understanding of statistical studies. The studies show a correlation between marriage and happiness. The don’t show that marriage causes happiness. Instead, the studies show that happiness may cause marriage.
     
    If you’re going to complain about the article and the studies, at least read the article (completely) and the underlying studies before jumping to conclusions. This article was actually rather solid (largely because it didn’t draw many conclusions).
     
    The biggest problem with the article is that it implied that the Pew Research survey showed that marriage was the most reliable indicator of happiness. While the Pew Research indicated that marriage was a reliable indicator of happiness, the most reliable indicator of happiness was the person’s health.

  2. 32
    Yves

    Here are my issues with this post:

    1) The Pew Research Center is a polling organization. It is not a scientific research organization, it is run by former media professionals, and it does not conduct studies on anything.

    2) Pew hasn’t done a poll on marriage and happiness in many years. More recent titles of poll results include “Marriage Rate Declines and Marriage Age Rises,” “For Millennials, Parenthood Trumps Marriage,” “The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families,” “Barely Half of US Adults Are Married—A New Low.” Read a more report from this year on love and marriage:

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/02/13/love-and-marriage/

    3) What polls do: They give us a way to track the prevailing attitudes of people who are willing to reveal personal details of their lives to a polling organization. Polls can reveal trends in what people think.

    4) What polls can’t do: Poll cannot tell you why something happens. They cannot verify the truth or falsity of people’s statements. They cannot tell you what will happen. They offer no diagnoses and make no predictions. Polls are not science.

    5) A scientific study of marriage and its benefits, for instance, would have to study ALL people who are or have been married, not just people from certain demographics who get married and stay married. Such a study would include people who are divorced, widowed, and remarried however many times they are remarried. It would include people of all races, religions, and income levels. In long-term studies of marital status, the “always married” and the “always single” people score equally high on the happiness meter. The divorced and widowed score low on the happiness meter. This is why properly conducted studies are superior to polls: A poll would only ask currently married people to rate how happy they are. A similar poll of single people would include all of the formerly married people for whom marriage didn’t work and who are now more unhappy than the always-single people. But if you’re trying to gauge the effectiveness of marriage in making people happy, the widowed and divorced people should be included in the MARRIED group, not the single group. They were married, and marriage did not make them happy, it made them UNHAPPY. If you include them in the single group, as a poll does, their unhappiness unfairly drags down the overall happiness level of the single group. Biased studies trying to prove the benefits of marriage always try to disown formerly married people and push them into the single group, but this is phony science at best, dishonesty at worst.

    6) When discussing the performance of a group, you cannot make assumptions about any one individual in that group based on the group performance. Thus, if you predict that 80% of a group will catch a cold this year, you cannot say that each individual in the group has an 80% chance of catching a cold this year. That’s illogical and bad math.

    7) If you read the entire Pew report on happiness from Feb 2006 (from statistics that are at least 8 years old), you’ll see that the people who report being the “happiest” are healthy, rich, church-going, married Republicans. Read it for yourself and draw what assumptions you will:

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/AreWeHappyYet.pdf

  3. 33
    josavant

    David T thanks. That article you linked to shows that marriage does not make people happier.  To reconcile it with the websites Evan links to, the explanation that makes the most sense is that though marriage doesn’t make people happier, people who rate themselves “very happy” are more likely to get married.
     
    For that reason I think it would be disastrous to try to use the original article linked above (someone quoting someone getting a science article all wrong) to advocate that single people should get married because marriage makes them happier. There’s no evidence that that’s true. The bulk of the evidence is that however happy you were before, you’re the same level of happiness after marriage.

  4. 34
    Sparkling Emerald

    I don’t know why anyone finds it so hard to believe that more married people report being happy.  I see nothing here to suggest that the “trope” of ALL married people are wildly happy and ALL single people are utterly miserable, but just that overall, more married people report being very happy. Makes perfect sense to me.
    My S2BX and I started out as happy individuals, and we were a happy couple for many years.  Unfortunately, some life events happened, that battered away at our individual happiness, and that coupled with the fact that we were infatuated with each other and got married in the star struck mode, which obscured some basic incompatibilities as well, pretty much ate away at any happiness we once shared.
    The happiest I have ever been is when I was happily married, the most miserable I have ever been is when I was miserably married.  Now, single again in my late 50′s, I would describe myself as content with life, but something’s missing.  (loving and being loved by a man) I know I can continue to have a contented life, despite that missing element, but I could be so much happier if I shared my life with someone special.  However, I could also turn my contented life into a living hell, if I chose wrong again.  I still struggle with, deciding weather or not to stay content and single or to go for broke and try to find that joy in love again, while risking my heart once again.

    1. 34.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thank you, SE, for being a voice of reason.

      I don’t see why it’s surprising that people who are in love are happier than people who are not in love. And that happy people who marry happy people tend to be the happiest of all.

      But if you dissenters want to think that you’re just as happy without love, go on with your bad selves.

      (Please don’t tell me that the study didn’t measure love, but marriage. People who are in love usually get married, so I’m making the two equivalent.)

  5. 35
    Jenn

    Doesn’t seem to me that many people are buying the “marriage makes you happy” message. And many seem not to believe that marrieds are happier than singles. Even  that 2013 that report says that. Sorry y’all!

  6. 36
    David T

    @Jos 34
     
    That is the the Michigan State study cited by the Time article which in turn was cited by the HowStuffWorks article that Evan started the thread with. Married people are happier, because happier people tend to be the ones who get married. What it says is that happiness spikes at the beginning and then returns to its pre-marriage baseline level. This is ONE study (albeit a big and heavily cited according to scholar.google.com so presumably reliable) study. YMMV, but it is the study that is the basis of this thread, so it is relevant.

    People in love are happier, but that is because happy people are more likely to be and stay in love!

    1. 36.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      No, David. You’re turning this into this black/white thing and it’s not.

      People in love are happier not simply because they’re biologically happier, but because love is about the highest, most meaningful feeling in the world.

      Why you think I have a job if love/marriage didn’t have the potential to make people infinitely happy?

      No one is suggesting that a bad marriage makes people happy, but rather than twice as many people who called themselves “very happy” were married. You can ascribe all of that to people’s natural dispositions, but you’d be missing a large part of the truth – love makes the world go round.

      I am a MUCH happier person in marriage than I was as a single guy – and I wasn’t a miserable single guy.

  7. 37
    Sparkling Emerald

    EMK@37-
    YW.  I think there is a lot of “sour grapes” talk on this blog.  This blog is specifically geared towards women who WANT to fall in love, but there are still a handful of commenters who ask questions such as “Why do you women think having a man is so darn important” and “Why don’t you all get a life” etc.  I think I’ve even replied, “What are YOU doing on a blog like this if you don’t want any part of this.”  Methinks some of the ladies (and gents too for that matter) doth protest to much.  And I know I’m going to catch a boatload of carp for this, but I suspect the same “sour grapes” talk is going on with the women who spout off about how they just love casual sex, ONS, FWB and being a booty call.  
    For me, my reluctance to go back into the jungle isn’t sour grapes.  I KNOW those grapes are sweet, juicy and delicious.  They also seem to be just out of my reach. :(

  8. 38
    marymary

    Sparkling
    Go for it, sign up for the coaching. You only live once. You have to go for what you believe in.  If you don’t, you don’t really believe in it. Take a break, there are great joys to being single. Then see how you feel.
    I was VERY happy single for years. No dates, nothing. But there is something special in really knowing another person and being “seen”. It’s the acceptance. He says that he feels free to be himself with me.   it’s about  that for me, rather than having more, as in more money or happiness or success or sex. 
    It’s not that we are fake with other people but I am not intimate with them in the same way. That would be weird.
     
     

  9. 39
    Yves

    People in love always get married? That’s such a weird statement. Maybe you only fell in love once and got married, but that’s you. I think most people fall in love many times during their lives and they get married if they’re both in a position to do so and want to at the same time.

    I really don’t understand this desire to cram everyone into the same life narrative and judge everyone else who doesn’t follow it. Women do this (the usual lame stereotypes), men do this (the usual lame stereotypes), men and women together do this (the usual lame stereotypes)–and here’s the (whatever numbers we can find anywhere, from anyone, to support whatever lame stereotype we’re promoting today). And this is THE TRUTH.

    If you’ve noticed, people and their choices do not “make the world go ’round.” The world continues to go ’round whether people “love” or not. And people love in whatever ways they love and and the world continues to go ’round whether people get married or not.

  10. 40
    LaFoi

    ‘The world continues to go ’round whether people get married or not.’
     
     
    Yves, functionally speaking you are correct.
     
     
    There is married love and also a myriad of ways of sharing love in the world. There are people who -through choice or otherwise – live without love. 
     
    A bird (with wings) can decide never to to leave the ground. 
     
    For others, the risk it takes to leave the ground and try their wings may be vindicated by the eternal soar of love and the glow it gives to their world which of course, as you rightly say, will keep turning without it, but it may be a less illuminated place.

  11. 41
    Christoff

     
    This site is good and the advice is usually quite good. EMK’s all over thesis that women must be feminine women who think before they criticize and think before they become pro-active in their dealings with men is important to understand.  It is about male psychology.
    Concerning marriage I will say this: the most important thing for this girl is being passionately in love, with the chemical attraction (not just “lust” but intellectual-physical-psychological chemistry) and the same values.  I have experienced this and there is nothing like it.
    I was also in an eight year marriage with a wonderful man with great values–but I did not have this same sexual/psychological intensity, the same rapport that made me feel so very womanly.  I felt loved but more like great friends.  This affected me as a woman, made me feel “like wood” at times.
    I believe strongly in marriage but there are also far too many miserable marriages, far too many people who feel “trapped” or marry for the wrong reasons. I waited to marry (though not really by design, it happened that way) in order to mature aspects of my personality and emotional health having seen bad relationships around me growing up.  This was a wise thing to do and I still looked and felt very young. So ladies, do not rush.
    All in all what is important is to find the one with whom you feel the most intense sense of shared identity. That is the best.
     
     
     
     
     

  12. 42
    Julia

    @ SE 40
     
    And I know I’m going to catch a boatload of carp for this, but I suspect the same “sour grapes” talk is going on with the women who spout off about how they just love casual sex, ONS, FWB and being a booty call. 
     
    Well, I am going to call you on your “carp” I am one of those women who can have a ONS or FWB but I ALSO believe in love and marriage and want it very deeply. I’m unsure why people find it hard to fathom that humans are deeply complex beings that can feel different things at different times or even at the same time. I didn’t protest any of this survey, I know its true. I just understand that some people are hurting and might lash out against a post like this. So yeah, your carp has been called!

  13. 43
    Sparkling Emerald

    Yves@42-People in love always get married? That’s such a weird statement.
     
    The statement actually was “People who are in love usually get married”.
     

  14. 44
    josavant

    Evan I think you’re taking this more personally than need be, to the point that you are calling those of us who questioned the link you sent “bad selves.” That is a personal attack against people who were trying to clarify what the science really says and were not trying to attack you or anyone else  personally.
     
    David T and I said that two Michigan studies show that people are the same level of happiness before and after they got married, which suggest that marriage does not cause people to become happier or unhappier on the average.  You may say, how does this reconcile with the Pew cites you showed.  It does in this way, if you say that those who are more likely to rate themselves “very happy” are also more likely to get married. but you can’t reconcile them the vice versa way, to say that marriage makes people happier, because that goes against the other published studies.  As for the article you linked in the original post, that wasn’t science itself, just an interpretation of it.
     
    You say that your marriage made you happier. That’s great, but why find the need for scientific studies to support that more generally. That is your story, and we are happy for you, and a personal story is enough for your readers. If you try to force science studies to back it up, that’s where it doesn’t all fit together.

  15. 45
    Sparkling Emerald

    Marymary@41 – Thanks for the sweet post.  I plan on trying once again when my D becomes final (which will either be end of this year, or early next year)  I don’t have 5 grand to spare for coaching (the finances of my D were NOT good !)   I did buy FTOO online, and I have the online version,* and if I can find it on my computer again, I will use that as my guide to dating again.  I did get VERY good results when I re-wrote my profile, using the practical how-to-advice in FTOO.  I just recently lost 8 pounds after a 9 month plateau, and I have scheduled a professional photo shoot for next weekend.  (I wasn’t particularly overweight, but now I can fit into some of my better outfits)
    In addition to not having 5 thou to spare, I am 58 and I won’t be doing a major personality overhaul.  I want to find someone who accepts me AS IS !  And I of course want someone I can accept as is. Flaws and all. I think I have some “flaws” that might make me “uncoachable”.  Apparently my list of “flaws” doesn’t make me un-dateable, but I do seem to be un-relatable.  Of course, if you read ALL of the dating advice in the dating advice jungle ALL FLAWS are unacceptable in women, and yet we are to accept a man AS IS (just no beating, cheating or emotional unavailable)  The other worldly level of perfection that many men seem to demand is out of my reach.
    Hopefully, when I can change my relationship status from “separated” to “divorced or single”,  I will get more responses from better quality men.  (not better looking, not smooth talking players, but good men who are a better match for me)  Of course, if I change my status to “divorced”, the next question will be “So long have you been divorced ?”.  I have a feeling that looking at my watch and saying “About 15 minutes” is not acceptable. :)  I am hoping that the judge will rubber stamp our D by the end of this year instead of early next year.  Saying we were separated over 2 and half years, and the D became final LAST year, sounds longer than saying the D became final THIS year. 
     
     
    You have to go for what you believe in.  If you don’t, you don’t really believe in it.
    That’s the rub, I believe in love and marriage FOR OTHER PEOPLE. Especially if they desire children.   Just don’t think it’s in the cards for me again.  Not sure if I want to upset my contented single life to take a long shot gamble on a “very happy” life that could turn into a very miserable life if I choose wrong again.  Not really sure if love without marriage is possible for long term.  I have very rarely seen a long term pairing where BOTH were content to stay in the “in love, but never getting married” phase.  I have seen it both ways, sometimes it’s the man who wants to get married, sometimes its the woman. 
    Have you ever seen a “let’s NOT get married” ceremony where couples exchange “I DON’Ts ?  ”  :)
     

     

  16. 46
    Chance

    @Christoff (# 44):
    “Concerning marriage I will say this: the most important thing for this girl is being passionately in love, with the chemical attraction (not just “lust” but intellectual-physical-psychological chemistry) and the same values.  I have experienced this and there is nothing like it.”
    Out of curiosity, what is the longest period of time that you’ve experienced what you described?  I think that’s pretty hard to achieve for an extended timeframe.  If everyone aspired for that in a marriage, while refusing to settle for less, hardly anyone would stay married.

  17. 47
    Goldie

    SE
     
    “The happiest I have ever been is when I was happily married, the most miserable I have ever been is when I was miserably married.  Now, single again in my late 50′s, I would describe myself as content with life, but something’s missing.  (loving and being loved by a man) I know I can continue to have a contented life, despite that missing element, but I could be so much happier if I shared my life with someone special.  However, I could also turn my contented life into a living hell, if I chose wrong again.  I still struggle with, deciding weather or not to stay content and single or to go for broke and try to find that joy in love again, while risking my heart once again.”
     
    Very well said!! Second every word. Except for your last sentence – because I already know I’ll be going for broke again, fairly soon. At a bare minimum, you’ll meet new people and make new friends and/or business connections (yes, this sometimes happens). I still stay in touch with some of the people I met online in 2010 and 2011.

  18. 48
    Karl R

    Christoff said: (#44)
    “Concerning marriage I will say this: the most important thing for this girl is being passionately in love, with the chemical attraction (not just “lust” but intellectual-physical-psychological chemistry) and the same values.  I have experienced this and there is nothing like it.”
     
    It’s called infatuation. It happens to everyone. It lasts one to three years, then it fades … for everyone.
     
    If pulse-pounding infatuation is the most important thing for you, don’t waste your time getting married. You’ll spend more time getting divorced than you’ll spend happily married.
     
    You’ll get better results if you hop from one relationship to another. Never move in with the man (or let him move in with you), so you can dump him as soon as the infatuation fades. It makes the breakups less messy, and it allows you to move on to the next relationship immediately.

  19. 49
    christoff

    In answer to number 49:
    Ten years. 

  20. 50
    Yves

    Whether the statement is that people  in love “usually” get married or people in love “always” get married, it is a mighty strange claim. I can’t even imagine what place that claim comes  from. Is the statement supposed to be that people who get married are usually in love? Self report being in love on a Pew poll? 
     
    I get the impression that on this blog  the word “love” has a very limited definition. It seems to be understood here as this feeling for one person primarily, a feeling that is based on some sexual romantic pairing. That isn’t what love means to me personally. I am very happy that I am able to love outside the confines of the dynasty I’m supposed to be creating. But my way of loving  is not easy to describe to people who don’t experience it. It isn’t happiness. It’s closer to joy.

  21. 51
    Sparkling Emerald

    Julia @45-Perhaps I should have said SOME women. If casual sex floats your boat, then I’m happy for you.  If you can enjoy casual sex on your journey to a deeply desired love filled  marriage (and perhaps motherhood ? ), then good for you !
    And you know what, I do believe  that people are complex, and there are women who CLAIM to be all cavalier and casual about sex, but deep inside they are heartbroken, disappointed, and have been fooling themselves.  I have sopping wet shoulders from hearing girlfriends cry to me about how their booty call guy broke their heart.  I have heard the back and forth, from “I want a real relationship, I’m sick of thinking a relationship is developing, and then it turns out we were just f****ing.”  Then the next guy she dates tells her from the git go that he wants to just go with the flow, and suddenly this “go with the flow” NSA sex, is just fine and dandy with her.  Then six months later crying about the guy who was never in a relationship with her to begin with has “broken up” with her.
    LOTS of people LIE about their feelings about relationships.  I think mostly they lie to themselves.  I think most people would rather say that they never gave a rat’s patoot about the guy (or gal)  who humped and dumped them, and say that the “dumping” was just as much their idea.  They would prefer to say it was no more significant than clearing their throat, rather than to admit that they had hopes for a relationship, believed one was possible, slept with a guy (or girl) hoping they would BECOME a couple, and then were dumped and are now feeling dissappointed about it.  I would venture to say MOST (not all) women hate it when a guy pulls the amazing disappearing act after sex.  But I am also sure that there ARE exceptions, and everyone one of those exceptional women post on this blog ;)
    Now I will sit back and wait for the next “boatload” (you know what I mean) of “carp” (and you know what I mean)
    Yves@42  “I really don’t understand this desire to cram everyone into the same life narrative and judge everyone else who doesn’t follow it. Women do this (the usual lame stereotypes), men do this (the usual lame stereotypes), men and women together do this (the usual lame stereotypes)–and here’s the (whatever numbers we can find anywhere, from anyone, to support whatever lame stereotype we’re promoting today). And this is THE TRUTH.
     
    You got that you were being JUDGED, but someone REPORTING people saying weather or not they are happy ?  You know what I got out of the article ?  That there’s a lot of people in the world who are not “very happy”.  Even tho twice as many married people reported being “very happy” the percentage of married people was still less than half.  And for single people it was about a quarter.  I wish I knew what the other choices were.  Hopefully, those who weren’t in the “very happy ” category weren’t all miserable.  Hope their were some choices like “reasonably happy” or “content”, which is how I would describe myself. 
    Happy people are more marryable in my opinion.  So it doesn’t surprise that more married report being happy.  This study does NOT say that ALL married people are happy, and I didn’t see anyone trying to CRAM anyone into a marital box claiming it would make them happy.  I don’t condone miserable people getting married as a panacea for their unhappiness.  All that will happen is that they will be miserable together and bring some miserable kids into the world.  If I got anything out of this study, is that there is a serious happiness deficit going on, among people of all relationship statuses.
    Other things to consider about how unhappy people are less marriagable.  Poor health and poor financial situations can eat away at a person’s happiness.  I think people looking for a marriage partner also tend to stay away from people with serious health issues or financial problems.  (Of course this isn’t 100% true)  So people with serious life issues impacting their happiness aren’t going to be sought out as eagerly for marriage (except maybe only by another unhappy person)  Or unhappy people might opt out of marriage unless they can change their life circumstances and attitudes.
    I know I wouldn’t EVEN consider dating the first year after my marriage dissolved.  I was just too depressed to EVEN consider it.  I didn’t even want to think what I would wind up attracting in that state.  But now it is like a double edged sword.  I worked on my self, I got out, I socialized, I got back into acting, I went after a promotion at work, I started working out, riding my bike, doing yoga, making new friends, etc. etc.  And now I am content again.  Feeling good about myself.  So now I feel like I am in a good enough state of mind to find love again, but not so sure if I even want to risk it, because I could end up just finding more heartache, and then I would have to start building myself up again.  Other times I just think I should go for it anyway, I’m pretty sure the BIGGEST heartache of my life has already happened and anything else will seem like small potatoes by comparison. 

  22. 52
    Sparkling Emerald

    Christoff@44 – Concerning marriage I will say this: the most important thing for this girl is being passionately in love, with the chemical attraction (not just “lust” but intellectual-physical-psychological chemistry) and the same values.  I have experienced this and there is nothing like it.
    Christoff- No disrespect intended, but passion blinds, and that white hot passion that many people feel initially, fades with time.  The passion gives way to something more enduring tho, for those who can appreciate the gift of long term love.  Caring, affection, warmth, kindness, companionship, compatibility, comfort, a shared history, seeing each other through hard times, having each others back and being there for each other is much more valuable IMHO than trying to keep the allusion of passion alive for 40 years. 
    I call my S2BX my “fair weather husband”.  He complained that after 20 years of marriage he no longer had that wildly in love feeling with me, and that in the beginning things were “so easy”, and since that feeling is gone, he wants out. (But he gives me that tired old line that he “loves” me, but he’s just not “in love” with me.)  Life isn’t always easy.  In 40 years, expect life to deliver hardships.  Ailing, aging dying parents, in-laws behaving badly, rebellious teens, career set backs, financial woes, spousal illness, etc.   A different picture than 2 starry lovers wining and dining without a care in the world. Great memories, but that doesn’t last forever. 
    I CRINGE when I get junk e-mail from different “Love gurus” claiming to try and sell you the secret of “How to make the honeymoon last forever”  How about learning to appreciate having a lifelong partner who genuinely loves and cares about you through thick and thin and will always have your back ?
    That honeymoon feeling is GREAT.  I just think it’s unrealistic to expect it to last forever.  Just switch out partners every 2-5 years if that’s all you want.  (serial monogamy, I’ve actually considered going that route)  But marriage is not going to be a blissful 40 year honeymoon rolling around in satin sheets, drinking champagne and feeding each other chocolate covered strawberries.  Life happens, some of it is unpleasant.  Holding on to each other through the tough times, illness, financial upset, etc. is more important to me than the fleeting feeling of passion.  Although I DO want it initially, the MEMORIES of the honeymoon can get us through hard times, but I have no allusions of a “passion” that last for 20 years.

  23. 53
    Stix

    I would say the happiest i’ve been is now, within a healthy mutually committed relationship. The unhappiest i’ve ever been was in an unhappy marriage. I was briefly happily married and at that time probably nowhere near as happy as I feel now. Most of my happiness now, however, is independant of my relationship, amd the relationship is like gravy. I might consider getting married again. I believe I could do it. That said, parenthood (becoming a mother) is my priority, and marriage is low on the list. My bf and I talk about the possibilities of having children in a few years often, and have never talked about getting married. 
    Just speaking for myself.

  24. 54
    Morris

    @Karl R #32 – You’re all over the place.  I don’t want to copy/paste/respond to every point/insult since it would be/take too long.
     
    Before I start.  Let me be clear that I personally DO believe that if I get married I would be happier.  But that’s besides the point.  I take issue with an article(howstuffworks) that twists things(PEW polls and other source materials) to paint a narrative(marriage and it’s correlation to happiness).
     
    You think the article is SOLID.  That it doesn’t make conclusions.  I’m ok with that.  I’ll just tell you why I think the article is lousy.
     
    The author finds(in order):
     
    That marriage is worth $100k.[Financial Times]
     
    That people are waiting to get married.[U.S. Census Bureau]
     
    That there are now more single people.[Beckwith]
     
    That married people earn more, live longer.  That marriage promotes better health.[CDC][Stein, Song and Coady]
     
    That 48% of marriages end in divorce.[CDC]
     
    That people report greater happiness from marriage than career, community or money.[Seligman]
     
    That 43% of married couples are ‘very happy’ compared to 24% of unmarried individuals.[Pew Research Center]
     
    That there is a short term spike in happiness when getting married.[Stein, Song and Coady]
     
    Happier people tend to marry.[Although not referenced I believe it comes from Stutzer and Frey]
     
    People have a happiness baseline they gravitate to before/during and even after marriage.  Although divorced people have a slightly lower level of life satisfaction.[Grohl]
     
    (Adding [Becker] here as well since it is in the sources.  Actually a few of the above and Becker are really just articles on the German study.)
     
    Expectations for marital bliss play an important role in determining happiness.[McNulty and Karney]
     
    I get it.  The author doesn’t say marriage=happiness.  And I understand the individual points listed above may be true.(Although possible taken out of context.)  But it’s not relevant because it’s plain to me the narrative the author is trying to paint.
     
    Maybe it’s just me.  A bunch of positive things about marriage.  A couple neutral things.  And what?  Not a single positive source/reference about singles in an article titled ‘Are married people happier than singles?’?
     
    And to me that’s a lousy, lazy and poorly written article.
     
     
    As far as the application of statistics and my lack of understanding them.  The PEW report showed MANY correlations to happiness including marriage.  To cherry-pick one takes things out of context.  Is it true?  Yes.  Does it mean something?  Beats me.  As far as we know the vast majority of the ‘very happy’ people came from the same group.(White, church going married republicans.)  Do happy people tend to be white?  If you’re happy do you tend to become republicans?  Maybe.  But cherry picking like that just doesn’t smell right.

  25. 55
    Gina

     
    HAPPILY married people are happier than single people.  I have been married twice and was NOT happy. I am far more happier living my life as a single person. Without a doubt, being happily married trumps being happily single any day.
     
     
     

  26. 56
    Stix

    I wonder…How do we know how happy “very happy” is?
    The question is posed “Are married people happiER than single people?”
    Not
    “Are there more happy married people, than happy single people.”
     
    How is a person to know that the married person who reports being “very happy” is happier than the single person who reports being “very happy”. And what is the comparison? My “very happy” might be only moderately happy to someone else, or over the top happy to yet another person. Someone elses “very happy” may look depressing, to me.
     
     

  27. 57
    judy

    Gina 57 – you said it.  I was married once too – and it was not a good marriage.  We both chose the wrong person and try as we did, we could not make it work.
    Happily single? Certainly these days, being single is not so much of a big deal but marriage with a good man?
    Who wants to be single when you can have a loving relationship?
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  28. 58
    Stix

    I have an aunt (married) who is basically immobile, and a shut in. I know she would report being “very happy” if asked. She feels very happy with the way her life is. She has constructed it that way. If I were to live like that, I would feel miserable. When I was “single” (on my own) I may have reported being “moderately happy” though I guarantee I felt a lot “happier” under those circumstances than i ever would within her “very happy” circumstances.
    I’m not entirely sure what point i’m trying to make…I just know that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and the general concept applies here. 
     
    So, perhaps a greater number of married people reported being “very happy”, but when I see that (under the heading “Are married people happier than single people”) I want to know what their “very happy” looks like, and what does that mean as it relates to marriage? Perhaps these people are just very happy living a life I would feel miserable within. 
     
     

  29. 59
    Sparkling Emerald

    I clicked on the link to the Pew study to get some more info.  A few things stood out for me, that make me take this study with a grain of salt.  I was glad to see the survey also had “pretty happy” as well as “very happy” for a choice, but the narrative did not really address the “pretty happy” crowd.  So going by the “very happy” group which only comprised 34% of those surveyed and ignoring the “pretty happy” group which comprised only 50% that is leaving out a very big piece of the picture.  So that leads me to believe (and I could be wrong) that this narrative was deliberately written to paint a picture of married, religious, republicans being happier (and by implication better)  I didn’t click on  the link within this link to read the whole study because I am no math genius and I doubt I could slog through the whole thing.  However, if you add the “very happys” and the “pretty happys” together you get a total of 84% and I think that’s a pretty good amount.  And looking at the total group of people  who answered either “Very or “pretty” happy, I am guessing that there wouldn’t be such a big divide between the survey respondents based on politics, religion or marital status.
     
    Anyway, I’m not going to run out and get religion, change my party affiliation or get married based on what a survey says. My heathen, single self is pretty happy, as is.
     
    The other thing that concerned me was that there was only ONE category for the less than happy and that was “not to happy”.  Of that 15% percent who were “not too happy”  how many were VERY unhappy (IOW, utterly miserable ?) 
     
     
     
    I suspect that in the 53% of married people who did not claim to be “very happy” that yes, there was a large segment of “pretty happy “ folks, but what percentage of the married were VERY unhappy ?  We can’t tell by THIS survey, but I think if they asked THAT question, the UTTERLY MISERABLE folks in the married category, would outnumber the UM’s in the single group.
     
    It really sucks being utterly miserable while single, but if you really want to maximize your misery,  marry another miserable person and watch your emotional well being sink to new lows.
     
    Also, EMK addressed some of these issue in HIS narrative, said he realized marriage is no guarantee of happiness, that single people can be happy and that he’s not judging anyone, so stop shooting the messenger !  The messenger added his own disclaimer to the report, and he is not suggesting that married people are better or that single people should just marry their way to happiness.
     
     
     
    Direct link to the PEW survey.
     
    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2006/02/13/are-we-happy-yet/
     
     
     

  30. 60
    Christoff

     
     
    To Karl #51.
    No, it was not “infatuation”, it was a deep and profound feeling for this person that lasted a decade over many difficulties.
    To Emerald #55
    Passion “blinds” people who let themselves be blinded by it.  Again, I am not talking “lust”, living in a haze of sexual attraction “only”– but the passion that is a sense of deep physical and psychological attraction, a desire that for me has never faded.
    Others may not know what I am talking about.  But I think few people are capable of the kind of impassioned love I have known.  Cynics may say what they want.
     
     
     
     

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