Benefits of Marriage

benefits of marriage

Benefits of Marriage

Marriage gets a “bad rap” these days. So, are there really any benefits of marriage? Oh yeah! Unmistakable and documented benefits!

For my unmarried friends that are living together or cohabiting, I wrote this article for you.

Living Together
I have talked to couples who tell me, “The marriage certificate is only a piece of paper. It doesn’t really matter.” My response? So is a passport, a driver’s license, a deed to your house, or an arrest warrant. Yes, they’re all just pieces of paper; however, that paper has great meaning and significance.

Leaving the philosophical and logical arguments, let’s look at the documented case histories of hundreds of couples to determine the benefits of marriage.  The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially by Gallagher and Waite, uses extensive scientific data to make the case for the benefits of marriage. They demonstrate that the common “marriage myths”…

  • marriage is mostly about children; if you have no kids, it doesn’t matter if you marry or cohabit
  • marriage is essentially a private matter, an affair of the heart between two adults—and no one, not even children of the marriage should interfere
  • marriage is merely a “slip of paper”

…have no basis in scientific or fact regardless of how widely-held they are.

Here is the difference, the key idea behind the marriage commitment:

“Everything changes when couples marry. The act of getting married changes a great deal with regard to the way that couples behave and interact with one another, plan for the future, and experience fulfillment… Getting married doesn’t merely certify a pre-existing love relationship. Marriage actually changes people’s goals and behaviour in ways that are profoundly and powerfully life enhancing.”

Waite and Gallagher go on to demonstrate that the benefits of marriage are most observable within the measurable realms of health, wealth, and (self-reported) sexual fulfillment. In each area, married couples have a great advantage over their common-law counterparts.


Fact or Fiction?
If there were no advantages unique to marriage, then we should be able to see just as many measurable benefits to cohabiting as to marriage. We can’t.

Here are some facts:

  • cohabiting couples who share a home and bed do not behave like married couples
  • cohabitation is a separate institution from marriage
    • resulting in different expectations as individuals, and
    • providing different effects/behaviours as individuals

The Case for Marriage offers evidence of advantages to the marriage commitment in three areas:

  1. Mental health and happiness
    • the latest data says 40% of married people say they are very happy with life compared with less than 25% of cohabiting individuals
  2. Monetary advantage
    • married couples are more likely to save for the future
    • married men earn 10 to 40% more income
  3. Sexual fulfillment
    • Surprised? Married couples report much greater sexual satisfaction than cohabiting or dating couples. The author found, “After research controlled for age, gender, and other demographic factors, the most strongly related to sexual satisfaction among married couples was not age or gender or work status but traditional attitudes towards sexual morality.” Overwhelmingly, people still believe sex should be within marriage.


Benefits of marriage? Huge!

To quote Waite and Gallagher again,

“Marriage is not just a label. It remains a transformative act—marriage not only names a relationship but it creates a relationship between two people, one that is acknowledged not just by the couple itself, but by the couple’s kin, friends, religious community and larger society.”