In a few weeks, one of our daughters will be getting married. “Why?” one of her friends asked seriously. “You are an intelligent, independent woman with a lot going for you. Do you need to be married?” This question jarred my daughter’s sensibilities and she and I had a long discussion about why she was getting married and why anyone should stay married.
“I know so many people who are divorced and only a few who are in happy marriages. The stats seem dismal,” she said. “But still I want to get married especially because I want to have children and I know from experience just how important it is for children to grow up with a mother and a father who care about them and each other.”
We encouraged her to explore additional reasons why marriage appealed to her and she came up with the following list of benefits:
- A way to help two people mutually grow
- Stability and a great foundation from which to operate a family
- Culmination of one’s love for another person
- The ultimate commitment to someone you and care about
- Healthy, steady companionship and a lifelong best friend
- Financial stability
- Creation of stronger ties between families
- Fulfillment of a spiritual or moral duty
- Contribution that’s good for society
- A gift you give to your family
I was pleased and encouraged by her reflections, especially since she is the daughter of two marriage and family educators and has experienced some heartache already in a painful relationship where she unfortunately learned the meaning of emotional abuse. After moving on from that relationship and doing some healing, our daughter chose to marry.
Her reflections are substantially in-line with the research about the benefits of marriage. According to familyfacts.org, these are some of the many benefits of marriage:
Marriage is correlated to many health and economic benefits. Married people in general are healthier physically and psychologically and have a lower mortality rate. Married women report higher levels of physical and psychological health. Formerly married women (divorced women) have the worst health while married women had less stress from all areas – job, the environment, children, finances, and relationships.
Marriage is the best arena for raising children. In areas of mental, physical and spiritual well-being, children fare better when they grow up with their married parents.
Marriage is linked to greater accumulation of wealth and affluence. Married men tend to earn more while married women are less likely to become impoverished. Marriage increases the likelihood of affluence.
Married couples report greater sexual satisfaction. Married people, in monogamous unions, report higher levels of sexual satisfaction. In contrast, those who were single or cohabiting report lower levels of sexual satisfaction.
Married people are more likely to volunteer and give back to the community.
Married folks are less likely to have alcohol or substance abuse problems as well as less depression. Men who marry and stay married tend to be less depressed than those who divorce or remain single. Married women have fewer alcohol problems.
Getting married increases the probability of moving out of a poor neighborhood. According to the research marriage nearly doubles the probability that a person will move to a non-poor neighborhood. Likewise, divorce more than doubles the probability of moving from non-poor to poor neighborhoods. Among blacks, the likelihood of such a move increases almost six times! This validates the affluence statistics above—and is good to reiterate.
The conversation with our daughter about marriage and its benefits proved to be a powerful, thought-provoking one. As her parents, we want the best for her; a healthy marriage, we agree, is one of the best choices she can make for a healthy life for herself and our future grandchildren.
She concluded, after pondering the matter deeply, that marriage is the best option for her. We are glad that she and her fiancé have taken premarital education to prepare for a healthy, lasting marriage.