The question is: does marriage make you happier or is it that happier people marry?
Scientists think they know. A new study first looked at how happy people were before they got married. Then they looked at how happy they were after being married. The answer is they were happier after marriage.
This feeling was most important when people were in stress. This is true especially in situations like midlife crises. Most studies show people are better off in many ways when they are married. Marriage increases education and income.
Income appears to affect the decision to marry. More lower-income individuals, especially men, are shunning marriage. They often believe they cannot afford to marry. Or they do not want to make a commitment they fear they will not be able to keep.
Marriage is on a downward slope. By 2030, a quarter of young adults will not be married. This is the highest number recorded in recent times.
The study shows that people with the most difficult lives will benefit the most from marriage. A expert said, “Marriage may be most important when there is stress in life and when things are going wrong.”
An important finding was that happiness lasts longer than the “honeymoon” period. It turns into friendship. People who say their spouse is their friend are the happiest people. Women benefit more from being married to their best friend than men do. However, women are less likely to regard their spouse as their best friend.
Experts say you do not have to be married to have a long-lasting happy relationship.
The study said the findings do not hold true for people from Latin America, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It did not explain this finding.
Source: The New York Times January 8, 2015
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