Why Married Women Are Happier Than Single Women

Husband Kissing his wife

After reading the University of Virginia’s study of nearly 3000 people to evaluate what makes marriages work, I was delighted to get validation for most of my theories that I espouse on this blog.

Among the highlights of the comprehensive report:

Women who are married are twice as likely to report they’re very happy than single women. 50 percent of married women say they’re “very happy” vs. 25% of single women.

65% of cohabiting parents break up vs. 24% of parents who had a child while married.

People who are married with kids are 8% less very happy than childless couples, but both relationships end up with the same marital satisfaction after 8 years.

People without college degrees get divorced 3x more within the first 10 years of marriage than people with degrees. Divorce has more to do with lack of employability and financial stress than education itself.

58% of married women prefer part time work once they get married. 78% of married men prefer full time work.

Regular church/temple attendance increases “very happy” reports by 9%. People who feel “God” is the center of marriage goes up by 25%. This has more to do with these people being commitment oriented than religious, per se.

Top 5 Predictors of Marital Success are almost identical.


1. Above average sexual satisfaction
2. Above average commitment
3. Above average generosity to husband
4. Above average attitude toward raising children
5. Above average social support


1. Above average sexual satisfaction
2. Above average commitment
3. Above average generosity to wife
4. Above average attitude toward raising children
5. Above average marital spirituality

Thus, this report suggests that one path to wedded bliss may be found by embracing an ethic of generosity that encompasses a spirit of service, frequent displays of affection and a willingness to forgive the faults and failings of one’s spouse. This spirit of generosity is all the more important as couples confront the challenges of parenthood together.

Remarkable, it’s everything I’ve been writing about for five years (apart from the God thing) and I didn’t even have to interview 2870 people!

So, to all you people who are perfectly happy being single, I’m thrilled for you – but the reason that people keep coming back to romantic love is that it has the capacity (not the guarantee) of giving your life greater meaning and satisfaction. There’s nothing wrong with being “single and happy” (since, of course, ALL of my clients are single) but, according to this study, women who are married are twice as likely to report they’re very happy than single women.

Why do you come back to the possibility of love, despite its chance to hurt you?

Join our conversation (229 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Thank you for posting this.   I completely agree!   I also believe that there ARE commitment minded men out there who fully embrace the concept of marriage (inspite of past attempts or heartbreak) and are actively seeking to be married…  

    I do  believe that happiness, to some extent, is a choice.   There are other studies that show that people  who are well adjusted emotionally, financially, etc  (for the most part)  are also able to maintain and be happy in marriages.   So, it could be a chicken/egg thing.   Were they happy people first?   And that is why they are  married and happy?   Or did they get married, and become happy?  


  2. 2
    still looking

    “The  percentage of divorced persons is higher for females than for  males primarily because divorced men are more likely to remarry than divorced women. Also, among those who do remarry,  men generally do so sooner than women.” (pg 69).   

    Interesting finding, especially after reading the post on “Why Don’t Men Hate Being Single As Much As Women Do?”  

  3. 3

    A God-centered marriage bringing happiness.   Go figure.   

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I know, right? I think anyone who has the fortitude to go to church regularly is also highly tolerant of all the B.S. that comes with marriage. Direct correlation. 🙂

      1. 3.1.1

        Let’s not forget that many religions do not approve of   divorce and believe that wives should be subordinate to their husbands.
        The fact is most divorces are initiated by women. Sooner or later women become tired of the cooking, cleaning, physical, verbal abuse and the mandatory boring sex.
        I have divorced my abusive husband and the divorce is the best decision I have ever made. I have no intention of ever cohabitating or remarrying – I am 50 and the only men that would be interested would be geriatrics looking for a nurse/cook. The only thing a husband would offer me is extra work and loss of freedom.
        The benefits of being single are many:
        1. Better night’s sleep.
        2. Freedom to travel.
        3. Be able to relax in my own home and not have to stress about cooking.
        4. Not having to censor my opinions, thoughts, feelings and facial expressions.
        5. Not having to tolerate husband’s lack of manners and poor hygiene.
        6. Being able to work out without him making nasty comments.
        7. Freedom to wear what I like.
        8. Not having to have sex against my wishes.
        9. Freedom to socialize with friends.
        10. Not having to pretend to be a happy wife in the presence of family and friends.
        11. Being able to watch what I want on tv.
        12. Having enjoyable sex instead of chore sex.
        13. Most of all, being able to be my own person, true to myself and not to have to conform to someone else’s idea of what a wife should be.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I never said being married to an abusive husband is better than being alone. I said that married women are twice as likely to report that they’re very happy than single. You seem to think all men are like your ex-husband, instead of realizing that there are no shortage of men who have the capacity to be great partners. But, given your massively pessimistic attitude about men and marriage, I would agree that it’s for the best if you remain alone.

        2. Anna

          I don’t think it’s a case of being best to stay single with this attitude, it’s about offering yourself 100% and having that destroyed. You lose faith. I’m a firm believer that you need to feel what you feel, go with it rather than suppres. In time the anger fades and acceptance comes. That doesn’t mean that you should then go on a hunt for a significant other, it means that if it happen, it happens. If it doesn’t you are still happy. You set your sights higher, you won’t accept someone who doesn’t accept you for who you are. You have been to hell, you survive, you got out, you won’t go back there.  

        3. Denise

          I am amazed at Evan’s tact when responding to bullshit responses.

        4. Carisa

          Most men are abusive, but you should have left someone that forced sex on you sooner. No mean no especially after I do!

        5. Melissa

          Abusive partners aside there are many things in this list that do make so much sense many of them revolving around personal freedom. When you are in a relationship you are often (my observation) pushed to give up on or change many things that you should not. Also it is very typical, in my experience, for the other person to want to change them to their view of whom you should be. They fell in love with the person you are, that is what brought them to the table, why the heck do they want to then go mess with that?

          A relationship should always be about respect for each other as individuals who want to share a life not treat each other as personal property. Unfortunately I have observed too many cases (my own included) where the partner feels that they own you and what you do. You should always have the freedom to be the unique human being that you are and only give and share what you want to give and share. I am a very independent spirit and while I enjoy sharing experiences I must be my own authentic self and I have found, after 5 long term relationships, that so many others are not so able to be with someone who feels as I do, that personal authenticity and freedom of choice and action are the most important part of a relationship. If they cannot accept that then you must move on.   I am now in the same camp as Helen, I value my personal freedom too much to have another feel that they have a right to control what I do. being alone is far better than being controlled and too many relationships have too high a level of insecurity to allow for that.

      2. 3.1.2

        Well then. I went and continue to go to church. Have my child on Sunday school. Didn’t keep my ex wife from still cheating on us and filing for divorce.

  4. 4

    still [email protected],

    Oddly enough… it seems the same guys who say “I’ll never get married again!” end up getting  married again sooner than the women who are actively looking for a commitment.

    Lots of reasons for this…    the arguably wider age range of men’s dating pool and the arguable fact that women who say they are looking for commitment usually are.    So the men who legitimately WANT a commitment will have a much easier time finding like-minded women than the  other way around.

    Women have learned to be wary of men who  say they are looking for commitment but really aren’t.   (goes back to the ‘men don’t know what they want’ post).   This makes it much harder for women to keep their enthusiasm and ability to trust level high.   Also, the pressure for women to  marry before their shelf life expires… none of  adds up  to  the  ‘fun’ and ‘light’ experience alot of men seek.

    Don’t have the answer to this… I’d still argue that the  best bet is to avoid men who state up front they aren’t looking for a commitment.   Given the fact that alot of men are used to being pressured for commitment, it can take some creativity to determine his real thoughts.

    There’s a commonly used trick in business and HR where they ‘lead’ a person by sharing some story (often bogus), then waiting to see the other person’s reaction.  

    I think this might be a good strategy  for women  who are actively looking for a commitment to use with men…. lead with some  thought or story about not  knowing if she wants to commit or wants to marry again, and see what he says.   If he responds with, “oh,  really?   I definately want to get married someday!!.”, or if he responds with “oh, yea, marriage is for the birds!”   Well, you have your answer 🙂      


  5. 5

    Oh I think men definitely need to be married to be happy more than women. I have met so many men online that are either newly divorced or only separated. They can’t wait a minute to begin dating again. My divorced girlfriends have been single for several years and yes, they date but  none are looking to remarry any time soon.

    I have been divorced  for 8 years. Although it  would be nice to have a SO, there are times I am very content to be on my own. I look at  married friends and see how much work it takes to compromise  and think. “Gosh -been there – did that.” I also love my freedom   – as long as kids are accounted fro I am free to go to happy hour, out on weekends, etc. while my married friends are at home making dinner and watching a movie on tv. I really don’t envy them. Ihave had great opprtunity to meet people and go places and do things I definitely wouldn’t  have if I was still married.    

    I think that yes – if you  are married that is  a great experience, but one you are divorced and have experienced independence (especially after raising kids and dealing with a marriage) then it’s a breath of fresh air  of independence to be single again.    

    1. 5.1


      I couldn’t agree more.

      After my last child moved out and I had freedom I had never had before in my life I said THIS IS FOR ME. I don’t miss having a full time job, doing all the housework and 90% of the parenting while the hubby actually had a life. I didn’t opt for the lower my standards life so that I could live in a relaxed home (subtext: dirty, disorganized and chaotic). Now, I have all the me time I missed for 30 years. And, my own life. I now take care of me.

      1. 5.1.1

        Don’t forget 80 cents to a man’s dollar

  6. 6

    I think that women who have good husbands are happier than women who are single. I have been married twice, and am happier being single.  

    1. 6.1

      Gina, you are right. A woman with a good husband can be very happy. A man who understands her unique needs.

  7. 7

    Most  men are ‘takers’ in every way except their income.   I see it in alot of these posts… women are supposed to accept men going to strip clubs, porn, putting their work priorities above their partners.    Seriously.   What do  most men really have to offer emotionally that a woman can’t get from her friends and   family? If  women  want sex, they can get that pretty easy.    

    Good husbands don’t do the above.   So sure, if  every woman had a husband who considered her needs and made adjustments accordingly, then there  would be more happy marriages and fewer divorces.   But cultural expectations dictate that the women make all the sacrifices and do  all the emotional work of a relationship… which is why so many women opt to stay single.    Most men simply aren’t worth our time.        

    1. 7.1


    2. 7.2
      Lisa B

      Boy, that’s a depressing post.

    3. 7.3

      I agree 100%.

      Seriously. What is so important about having a man? Ok I get it when we were dependent on them for $$. Who wants to live like that. They have jobs and kids have school and activities and we stretch ourselves to be their support system AND a lot of us have jobs.

      With 3 degrees and a demanding professional job where was my support system? Not in my husband.

      So why do women pretend that’s fulfilling?

      Society would like for me to remarry, but that will never happen.

      Single and loving it!

    4. 7.4

      Another supporter of staying single. Men nor Wimen are truly capable of keeping the other. Only short term dating works.

  8. 8

    In my research on the topic of relationships and families I’ve read again and again that  the studies from the Marriage Project are not well done and in fact reflect a strong religious and politically conservative bias. Reason for the criticisms against the Marriage Project studies: They only include people who are currently married and exclude people who were married and then divorced or widowed (you can order the actual studies and see this for yourself). To draw accurate conclusions on how marriage affects happiness the researchers would have to do a controlled, longitudinal study that follows a group of people in all different states of  relationship, track the changes, and compare the results.  The analogy that explains this best goes like this–if 50% of participants in drug effectiveness study drop out    because they  have negative  effects to the drug (the way that 50% of  marriage participants drop out), that drug would not be  considered safe to use and would  never be approved.  In fact, people would think you were crazy and/or unethical to be hawking its effectiveness.

    There are researchers who have done longitudinal studies on marriage, and the results have been that  marrieds and singles are equally   happy.    The  group that seems to be  the unhappiest are people who were married but are now divorced or widowed (and we’re talking long term unhappiness here, not just a temporary depression due to a major life change),  though the reasons for this are not clear. Some new stats indicate that the correlation between loss of a partner and unhappiness might be changing–good news for divorced/widowed folks.              

    It could be that people who choose to marry and stay married, and people who are single and choose to stay single,  are just happier in general and make personal decisions that support that state of ongoing happiness.  

    Given the global shift in marriage demographics, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of these kinds of studies  not only from researchers here in the US but from those abroad,  where the religious/social conservative element doesn’t get any traction. The studies I’ve read recently have  come from Germany and Scandinavia–I can post references if anyone is interested and if I can still find them.     

    1. 8.1

      Thank you for your excellent post. It made perfect sense to me.

      My husband left me and it was as if the earth shattered. It was a death to me.

      Then slowly I changed 180 degrees. We had been so unhappy for so long. Why hadn’t I seen it? Because being happily married had been my dream as a little girl when I believed in life partners and happily ever after.

      I’m now an academic researching feminism. The cognitive dissonance we have regarding marriage and our relationships to men is profound.

      1. 8.1.1

        An “academic researching feminism”.


  9. 9
    Saint Stephen

    @Betsey (#9)
    I don’t think is necessary to fault the studies simply because they didn’t take into account those who are divorced.
    Have you also considered that the study about single people is also flawed because a certain percentage of those people will go ahead to either marry or get remarried.
    And if u check the divorce statistics you will also see that most people who got divorced still went ahead to remarry. Why do you think they go back to marriage? Your analogy about drug effectiveness is useless if nearly everyone of them went back to taking the drugs despite the negative side effects.

    Given the percentage of divorced couples who get remarried and coupled with the fact that married people tend to live longer lives – I quite agree with the studies and take it to be immaculate at best.

    1. 9.1

      Saint Stephen,

      Where are your stats? My research is showing that as woman gain economic independence they do not value marriage as they did before. Makes sense to me. Women’s role in marriage is hardly appealing to all women.

      I’m divorced and will never remarry. I’m way too busy doing all the things I couldn’t when I was married.

  10. 10

    There might be a problem with your link above–it goes to the NMP site but brings up a study about marriage and kids, not about single women v. married women. Couldn’t find the stats you cite anywhere. Can you provide more info so we can read the report?

    I did read the key findings section of the NMP, though, and it only mentioned happiness in one place, that I could see, though again, it didn’t compare marrieds and singles. The happiness footnote cited research by these folks but did not describe or elaborate on their findings:

    For instance, see Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage (New York: Doubleday, 2000); David G. Myers, The American Paradox (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000); Steven Stack and J. Ross Eshleman, “Marital Status and Happiness: A 17-Nation Study,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60 (1998): 527—36; and Popenoe and Whitehead, Should We Live Together?

    Maggie Gallagher is an ultra-conservative columnist, not a researcher; Stack & Eshleman talk about cohabitating couples v. married couples, not singles; and Popenoe is the son of a famous marriage advocate who went around preaching eugenics. Other than Stack/Eshleman, these are not people I’d give the time of day to.

  11. 11

    [email protected]

    Please do post those references.   I  completely agree with your first paragraph. I enjoyed marriage and would do it again if I met the right person.   I’m pretty happy most of the time.

    I’m curious about  the facts you mentioned in the remainder of the article.   I am both divorced and widowed, so I suppose that makes me a high risk of being ‘unhappy’… Personally, I feel  that is more about  feeling ‘different’ or stigmatized  (especially if one is widowed at a young age) than it is about not having a partner.   Although, that certainly doesn’t help.              

    Very interesting… Please post them if the editors allow it.    

  12. 12

    I am just wondering about Evan’s remark at the end of his article:

    according to this study, women who are married are twice as likely to report they’re very happy than single women.    ”  

    I think Evan and the study are lumping  love and marriage into one. There are plenty of women in loveless marriages.  There are also plenty of women coming to Evan  or romantic advice. As I said above in  #6 above, yes it would be nice to have a SO, but that doesn’t necessarily mean marriage. As I am not  having any  additional children  nor am I interested in adoption at this stage of my life,  there is no significant motive to marry  at this point in my life, barring  economic reasons. I actually think having a SO  who lives separately from me would be the best set up. We could see eachother as much as we want but still have our own haven  for retreat. I have been on   my own so long I shudder to think of “playing house” at this point. Maybe some day, but I cherish my peace also!    

  13. 13

    I’ve been in a bit of a debate with Evan on Twitter over this study. It’s important to note that the Institute for American Values, which runs the Marriage Project where the study came from, is largely funded by two foundations, the John Templeton and the Bradley, that are widely recognized as promoting neo-conservative and Christian conservative viewpoints. Now, Evan challenged me that just because the funding sources are biased, doesn’t necessarily mean that this particular study is biased. Which is a fair point. But it’s also the case that the Institute has spent two decades successfully lobbying Congress and both President Clinton and Bush to adopt a pro-nuclear family agenda that includes demonizing divorce and single parents, and also marginalizing GBLT folks, including those who want the right to marry. Furthermore, the same Institute is fairly hostile to atheists and agnostics, and has questionable standpoints on anyone outside of Christianity and perhaps Judaism. I’m not at all convinced that the viewpoints of the people in their study represent a broad cross section of Americans, given their track record around diversity.
    Evan asked me what I would think if a liberal group produced a study that made opposite conclusions, and my response was that if that group had spent two decades actively lobbying political officials to adopt their viewpoint, I’d question that study’s conclusions as well. While I don’t believe there’s such a thing as totally objective research, there’s plenty of work being done out there by groups that are far less politically motivated that the Institute of American values.
    One thing I did support in the study was basing relationships on generosity and service. That’s quite wise, and worth upholding. Furthermore, I agree with Evan that a willingness to forgive faults and mistakes of your partner is key.  
    I want to note that none of my criticism of the above study is meant to be a shot at marriage. I support anyone who wants to be married and fully believe that plenty of folks find happiness through marriage. But it’s only one path, and I’m just not convinced that the kind of glowing reports coming from the Marriage Project are taking into account all the ways people find happiness and contentment – single or coupled.

    1. 13.1
      Evan Marc Katz


      We have the same politics and I have the same mistrust of the conservative agenda as you do. That said, I don’t find it to be an impossible premise to accept that people who self-report as “very happy” are more likely to be married. This doesn’t at all deny the reality that there are millions of perfectly happy single people out there. I just happen to believe that most of them would prefer, all things remaining equal, to be in a healthy monogamous long-term relationship. And usually, when people do that, they get married.

      And, as you noted, the observations about what it takes to be successfully married are largely commonsense. Even the God thing, I must concede, makes sense, because if two people put something otherworldly and mystical at the center of their relationship, it provides a level of humility to the relationship that secular people like myself often lack.

      1. 13.1.1


        I sure do. The people I know who are single love it.

        So for your stats. Married 25 years. Divorced.


        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Aurora, since you commented seven times on this one blog post, let’s just leave it with this:

          Good for you for being happy. I would not submit that you’re happier single. You’re happier than you were in an unhappy marriage.

        2. EmeraldDust

          EMK said ” I would not submit that you’re happier single. You’re happier than you were in an unhappy marriage.”

          Well said. As someone who had a long marriage that was about half happy, then turned sour and was half crappy, I would say that I much happier now that I am out of the unhappy marriage, but not nearly as happy as I was when our marriage was happy.

          Since I have no real reason to marry at this stage in my life, I can live with this relative level of contentment, but I think marriage for younger willing couples who desire marriage and children is a worthy pursuit and worth the risks.

          I don’t care what the MRA & the anti-marriage so called femnists say, there is joy to be found in marriage that can’t be found anywhere else.

          And NO, I’m not any kind of religious person (perhaps generically spiritual in a golden rule sense, but I’m no right wing fundamentalist Christian).

          I don’t agree with these uber conservative, gay demonizing, atheist bashing, Christian Nation agenda groups, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

      2. 13.1.2

        It supports your business. If you post a study that says married women are happier, it supports your line of work. It wouldn’t benefit you in any way to post a study that states that single women are happy. An article like this makes you more relevant plain an simple.

  14. 14

    I find that men who have been married before seem to fall into 2 clear camps – those who feel lost without a partner and, after a quick trip round the block, are desperate to remarry as soon as possible, and those who think “marriage….aaaagh, did that before, didn’t work out, NOT going THERE again…”. For those who do wish to remarry there is a huge dating pool, as the majority of single women are marriage/commitment-orientated. A divorced man has the choice of all the women younger than himself – if he does choose a partner way younger this only increases his social status (“he must be a great guy to attract such a hot young thing”). Equally, he has the choice of women older than him as well – which again increases his social status (“He must be a great guy to choose someone 10 years older than him, he’s not shallow and just interested in looks…”)

    As a woman in her forties wading around in all this I find it creates  a difficult situation – those men who  do want to remarry do so quickly, so you kinda have to date them fresh out of their old relationship, with all the fall-out from the separation that that entails – the others, who don’t want to remarry… well, you don’t really want to bother dating them at all…. !  

    1. 14.1
      Jennifer Anne

      people are beyond cruel to women in their forties never married.   If i would of known would get this kind of reception effin forget it.     uggh what happened to human decency?   wtf? wtf? wtf?
      uggh … I love how people (mostly women) brag about how stable their lives are when in reality
      all they do is vent, bitch and hold negativity against the single woman to :
      play with their diamond rings and BITCH about people they know nothing about!
      your right on the money with your opinion.     Its sad how many so called friends I lost over just being
      as we fear to say it ” an old maid” when all I see myself as a decent human being.   and I do find some way to be happy during the day even though I don’t get the job or get forced out of human life.   it sux.

      1. 14.1.1

        I divorced in my 50s. Summed up the dating pool like you did and got my PhD.

        I have a great job, am a great role model to my children and have no interest in being married again.

        1. EmeraldDust

          Then why are you on a blog for women who want to get married ?

        2. Mina

          What a great idea! I might do same. Thanks.

        3. Caroline


          Exactly what I was thinking!


  15. 15

    A good marriage is always better than being single. That is my observation of many friends that I have known for a long time. The women who are happy in good marriages are much better off. They have emotional and financial support and a lot less stress. They build wonderful things with their spouses and can imbibe in many hobbies and charitable works. A bad relationship or failure or looking to date and have a healthy relationship is the furthest thing from their mind – they can be much more happy and productive.  

    But, with that said, “good” is the key. And that is why I am here. I am working on finding a good partner who wants the same thing.

    Bless you for your work, Evan, and happy New Year!  

  16. 16

    Helene #15

    This has been my observation about many divorced men also, although I do believe that even those men who would like to remarry need a certain amount of time to grieve the loss of their first marriages. Unfortunately, many of the men who are desperate to marry don’t bother to look at, or try to resolve, the issues that got them divorced in the first place. No wonder that the divorce rate for second marriages is even higher than for first marriages.  

    As far as married people being happier goes, other studies have shown that marriage  doesn’t create happiness. Rather, some psychologists think that people  who get  married  have, because of their personality, genetics and life circumstances, a greater predisposition to be happy. In other words,  people  who are  happier  are more social and outgoing, and therefore more likely to meet someone they want to marry and to be able to bond with them. In addition, people experience an uptick in happiness soon after marriage, but over time, those levels drop back to where they were prior to marriage.

    Given the bias in the studies, as Betsey and Nathan have pointed out, I think we are right to question their findings.

    1. 16.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I will simply point out that you probably don’t question the findings in a scientific study if you agree with the conclusions; you only question the source if you DON’T agree.

  17. 17

    The other thing we really forgot to mention, is the kids. Kids are much happier in a married family. Kids of divorce suffer greatly. They get stuck in a back and forth shuffle that has no regard for them and it is tiring. It is hard on them when the parents fight and date other people who don’t care about them. And when they get to be teens and college students they are often more poor – they have less resources because parents are not required to split expenses after 18. I hate that I put my kid through this. Many singles are divorced parents. Also, it is hard dating divorced parents and being one that has to date. It would be much better to get it right the first time. Where were you dear Evan?

  18. 18

    Evan 19, that’s not completely true.  From personal experience,  I agree with the results of the study. However, I question the study itself because of the  agendas of the funding sources.   With certain funding sources, if you give  them  results that they don’t like, they will try their darndest to twist your arm to say something they want to hear, or try to rewrite your report and hope you miss all the nuances that they slipped in.   You have to keep fighting them – diplomatically, of course – so that they don’t overstate or misrepresent your results. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the twisted results get published. I would be VERY surprised if that is not exactly what happened in this marriage study.

    Betsey 9  brought up an excellent point about  the obvious bias of the study design.  It’s impossible to conduct a meaningful study about the impact of marriage unless you draw participants from the  ENTIRE population that was ever married (including divorcees, widows, and widowers).   Drawing participants from only the population that is currently married will obviously give  a slant toward the mindsets of those who are in good relationships. Conversely, those who have exited bad marriages  have probably been hurt worse than if they had never been married at all. That is the realistic other side of marriage. Wonderful as it may be, it is still a gamble. I love marriage but I think it’s crucial that the other side of the story gets told as well.

    1. 18.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Helen: The other side of the story – about how men suck and relationships are not worth it – is told ALL the time. That’s why I found this study interesting.

      @Ruby: EVERYONE would prefer to be in a good relationship. People who say things like “Why would I get married? 50% of marriages break up, after all!” – as if this is relevant – are missing the point. This study said that people who claimed to be “very happy” were twice as likely to be married than single. Thus, people in bad marriages are immaterial. Among people who claimed to be “very happy”…even if it’s 10% of people…twice as many were married than single. I find the premise to be interesting and validating, since I am a person who was content when single but is MUCH happier when married.

      1. 18.1.1

        Hi Evan,

        Thanks for publishing this study. Don’t stress yourself trying to penetrate the cement thinking of others. I completely understand what you are saying. I myself was single through my 20’s-30’s and am now married to a great guy and very happy. Not to say we don’t have our moments, but we have always understood how to make it work 97%  of the time we laugh our asses off and are happy the other 3% is whatever goes. Being single for 2 decades of my adult life taught me how to be independent, but know when I have done all I can, and need a shoulder to lean on or vent to. My husband has a generous heart, loving spirit and would give anyone the shirt off his back. He snores like a wolf and it doesn’t bother me because I love him! The majority of my friends are married and now even the gay ones. I believe we have all made good choices. My single friends, on the other hand, can borderline tragic, flighty, undependable, critical, picky, indecisive, impatient   and the list goes on, well into their late 30’s- 40’s. I personally don’t think the same as they do on a lot of subjects. We really don’t have much in common. I am not being smug, but as my marriage grows, I realize you have to be gracious and most of  MY single friends don’t have grace.

        Gracious being the key word because people need room to make mistakes and to be themselves absent of judgment. I allow that from husband so he can be loved unconditionally and not just when he is perfect. He loves me skinny, fat, hair done or not, no make up and bad morning breath…we both are gracious in this way. I see a lot of comments that aren’t so surprising in single people. I believe I read something about a diamond ring twisting on our finger. Ha!  There is a lot of judgment, and even jealousy.  I personally believe that the way you think and interpret people’s actions  will decide if you can handle a relationship or be happy with anyone or any type of relationship. You have to let a lot of things go. In our house my husband and I decided that whatever happened yesterday, stays on that day. We don’t bring it forward, unless it is a happy moment.

        I actually found this blog to see if I was experiencing some of the same ambiguity from single women as other former single women. They (single friends)  want everything to be the same after marriage, yet so much has changed. How we see life, work, children…etc. I want to end this by saying, you can be lonely with a lot of people around or happy by yourself. I have done both. It is all about how you (yourself) decides you want to be. If you take every little thing personal, gripe, argue, victimize(yourself), cast judgment more than likely you will never even have friends, let alone a spouse. If I had to do it all over, I would choose marriage, hands down. I love my husband, warts and all and I am very happy, coming from a single girl of two decades 🙂

        1. Caroline

          Nycole, thank you for sharing your experience and reflections. I’m so pleased that you’ve found love, best wishes for your future happiness.

  19. 19

    EMK #19

    On a personal level, I don’t agree or disagree with the findings. I’m not married, but I have absolutely nothing against it. I’m not sure that my married friends, on the whole, are any happier than my single friends, but I would say that most of my single friends, including myself, would prefer to be in a good relationship, whether or not that means marriage. I’ve simply read other studies that have come up with different causalities and different results, and I think they should be noted.  

  20. 20

    Noble Prize winner and Harvard professor Daniel Kahneman and Princeton economist Alan Krueger   have performed some thorough tests for measuring the emotional quality of people’s daily experiences (e.g., their level of happiness). From a Princeton U article about their research, a key takeaway that pertains to our discussion: “According to their findings, more general circumstances such as whether a   woman was married, single, wealthy, educated or felt she had job security did not significant effect on daily happiness.”
    Kahneman recently published a book about intuitive v. rational decision-making (Thinking, Fast and Slow). In it he writes: “Experienced well-being is on average unaffected by marriage, not because marriage makes no difference to happiness but because it changes some aspects of life for the better and others for the worse.”
    Thinking, Fast and Slow also includes a discussion of a well-known finding showing that among people who get married and stay married, they become a bit happier around the year of the wedding, then they go back to being about as happy as they were when they were single. One interpretation of that finding is that over time, married people adapt to being married. They find it joyful at first, but then it becomes routine.
    One interesting implication that Kahneman spells out is that even among those people whose forthcoming or recent marriage is salient to them, it won’t be salient all the time. In their everyday lives, as time goes on, they will often be focusing on other things, and the fact of being married may not have much to do with their moment-to-moment happiness.
    You can google Kahneman or read his book if you want more info.

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Betsey – I have “Thinking Fast and Slow” on my nightstand. Just got it for the holidays. I’m familiar with studies that say people revert to the norm. People who get into paralyzing car accidents are just as happy as lottery winners, and so forth.

      Here’s the thing about me: I try extremely hard to be objective. I acknowledge my bias – even in the original article. I’m a guy who believes in marriage and was delighted to hear of a study that validated my belief. One can call that the “confirmation bias” – finding statistics to back up your own claims. But it’s still nice to have statistics, instead of just “feelings” to reinforce what I’m doing here. You can question them, but I would question you for questioning them. Not because everything should be accepted implicitly, but because clearly, if you’re questioning a source, it’s because you don’t like the conclusion. It’s like conservatives who question articles that appear in the New York Times – not op ed pieces, hard journalism. You can spend all your time second guessing sources that you don’t agree with ideologically, but at some point, you just have to accept an objective study as an objective study.

      I’m not saying that this UVA study was perfect – I’m not a scientist, nor do I claim to be. But I do have a fabulous hypocrisy detector – and it goes off on this blog all the time when “objective” women criticize me for giving them an objective viewpoint on how men think. Not because they can prove me wrong in any way – no, I’ve rarely been proven wrong on here. Most of the people who criticize me are doing so simply because they don’t like the reality that I portray. You know, the one where you do better with men by liking them, trusting them and accepting them, instead of dissecting them, complaining about them and trying to change them.

      I thought that, regardless of the methodology of the aforementioned study, it’s a relevant topic of conversation that just happens to adhere to what I already believe: you’re more likely to be “very happy” in a successful marriage than flying solo through life. Not a bad marriage; a good one. I don’t see why that would be all that hard to accept.

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