Marriage Has Lifelong Impact On Feelings of Happiness

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Study suggests married couples more satisfied with life than singles

Much has been written about the benefits of marriage. Examples include financial and emotional security.

According to new a new study authored by Shawn Grover and John Helliwell of the Vancouver School of Economics in Canada, happiness can also be added to the list.

Investigators used long-term British Household Panel Survey data from 30,000 people between 1991-2009 – and the United Kingdom’s Annual Population (2011 to 2013), involving more than 328,000 people – to conduct an analysis.

According to their findings, married couples were more satisfied with their lives when compared to singles. Additionally, people living as a couple, but unmarried, responded much like married persons.

More: Wealth impacts experiences of happiness

If you are thinking satisfaction in life was confined to the so-called honeymoon phase phenomenon – think again. The study found feelings of content continued into old age.

The research has been published in the Journal of Happiness.

What’s interesting is that the beneficial aspects of marriage – meaning feelings of well-being – occurred most profoundly during middle age.

This is a time in life that is often associated with the dreaded “mid-life crisis”.

As highlighted in the study, unmarried people experienced much deeper dips in life satisfaction during this time period.

“Marriage may help ease the causes of a mid-life dip in life satisfaction and the benefits of marriage are unlikely to be short-lived,” says Helliwell.

The researchers also discovered that people who are best friends with their mates experienced the largest well-being benefit.

“The well-being benefits of marriage are much greater for those who also regard their spouse as their best friend,” shared Helliwell. “These benefits are on average about twice as large for people whose spouse is also their best friend.”

Researchers also concluded that the happiness associated with marriage apparently flows through social channels. This may explain why the benefits of marriage remain unaltered as time marches on.

It also may help to inform why a person’s partner is often referred to as a “super-friend”

Intuitively, this makes sense when one considers couples often provide one another unique social support for various life-challenges.

The close friendship in these types of relationships might help to explain why persons who live together but unmarried enjoy a sizeable “well-being” benefit of marriage, particularly if a partner is considered a best friend.

Investigators caution that their conclusions can only be applied to other western countries where similar surveys are available.

Funding for the study was made available by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Source: Journal of Happiness

About John D. Moore 312 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a journalist and blogger who writes about a variety of topics. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Follow him on LinkedIn