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Happily Ever After: The Psychological Benefits of Marriage & Commitment

If you think that marriage is nothing but a piece of paper, prepare to be surprised. There are many benefits of marriage you might not have thought of. 

Benefits of Marriage

If you’re in a relationship or married, have you ever had that day or that argument that leaves you secretly thinking, “I wish that I was single?” It’s normal, don’t worry! Marriage is full of peaks and valleys.

But overall, those who are married report more satisfaction in life, greater feelings of security, have better health outcomes, and greater quality of life. If you’re keen to learn about the benefits of marriage, there are just a few for you!

So, if you’re sitting around envying your single friends who are constantly going out on exciting dates and meeting new people, take heart. The grass always seems greener on the other side. But scientific research concludes that the grass really is greener for those who are in stable relationships and have made the commitment to love each other forever. [Read: 16 questions to make talking about marriage really easy]

What are the benefits of marriage?

Happily ever after is an illusion that has been tainting our realistic view of what marriage is since the first time someone read us a fairytale. There is no such thing as happily ever after.

There is, however, something known as “happily mostly after,” and that is what you should hope for. It’s not a compromise or a negative thing – life can’t be amazing all the time. It’s just realistic.

More good than bad, more health than sickness, and till death do you part – these are the signs of a healthy relationship, even if it isn’t always bliss. Stick with it, try to forgive more than being forgiven, and learn to choose your battles. If you can do that, these 11 benefits of marriage can be yours. [Read: 20 things happy couples don’t do in a perfect relationship]

1. Marriage may contribute to a longer life

An abundance of studies came to the same conclusion: those who are married live longer than those who live unmarried throughout life. When you adjust for all other factors, the trend can be seen in every race and across many different cultures. Moreover, it doesn’t matter what type of things people die from. Those who are unmarried have a shorter life expectancy, regardless of their gender or ethnicity.

2. You have a better standard of living

By staying together, you don’t suffer the hardships of splitting expenses, households, and dividing things in two. Some believe that the reason for the discrepancy in the benefits of being married versus unmarried is due to a better standard of living for those who stay together.

Hopeless romantics choose to believe that love saves all. Two are always much stronger than one when dealing with life situations. [Read: The 25 sweetest romantic gestures for everyday life]

3. Married people are healthier

There are an abundance of different ways that staying a couple increases your physical health and your well-being. When you live with someone, they are more likely to notice subtle differences about you that you may not even notice yourself.

Thus, they can encourage you to seek medical attention far more quickly. The physical benefits are not just for acute illnesses like a cold and the flu, but for chronic disease prevention, such as diabetes and cancer.

4. Married people engage in fewer risky behaviors

Married people are also less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Worrying about how their behaviors will affect their spouse, they tend to tone it down a bit. They drink less, they eat better, and they recover quicker from illnesses because they take the time to allow their bodies to heal.

Sometimes, two people caring for each other is more powerful than just one. In that case, you may be tempted to just ignore bad behavior and carry on. [Read: What is the right age to get married?]

5. Guys, the benefits apply to you too

When you compare the health benefits for a married man versus an unmarried man, the picture increases significantly. Even if men like to paint their wives as nags who are always on them about something, their wives are actually doing things out of love and may be saving their lives.

Research indicates that it isn’t just about getting married. A man who is in a committed relationship benefits from pairing with a woman. [Read: 23 foolproof relationship tips and advice for men]

6. Emotional support is key

Studies continually show that people who feel a sense of community and emotional support from those around them have better health outcomes. This is compared to those who feel emotionally isolated. Being a couple means that you have someone to lean on when you need support.

Emotional support can be a buffer not only against mental health issues but against physical health issues too. Studies have shown that your marital status is relative to your immune system function.

It may help to curb chronic disease. Protecting you from stress, which is a major contributor to illness, having someone to talk to, vent to, and help with your conflict resolution can all promote more health benefits. You’re more likely to grab these when married than when being alone. [Read: One year itch – 25 tips to avoid marriage problems early on]

7. Mental health improvement and marriage

Let’s highlight the mental health benefits a bit more. A landmark study in 1991 concluded that being married decreases the likelihood of experiencing major depression or psychiatric disorders, compared to those who are not married. Apparently, vows are more than just words – they are the cement that helps a married couple build a healthier life for both members.

The most shocking finding is that those who go through a divorce or separation are more prone to depression and mental illness. The additional stress of a divorce is enough to result in the poorest mental outcomes.

Even those who reported that they were unhappy in their marriage fared better mentally than those who had chosen to end the relationship. [Read: The top 20 reasons for divorce that most couples overlook]

8. Self-reported happiness and sexual fulfillment

On average, people who are married report being happier than those who are single. Being married makes people feel more satisfied with life than those who choose to stay single. Couples who are in a functional relationship also report being more sexually active. That comes with its own set of benefits.

A healthy sex life results in less illness, and a decrease in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular health, diabetes, and cancer, and it also helps to boost your mental status.

Those who have a healthy sex life gain additional benefits over those who have sex outside of marriage, or one-night stands. They may feel fantastic temporarily, but the long-term effects of a casual sexual encounter can’t touch the benefits of being in a marriage. [Read: The truth about sex after marriage – better or worse?]

9. It’s not just about living together

If you think that these benefits are just about being in a live-in relationship, you would be wrong. Many of the benefits measured for married couples are all but gone in a committed relationship without vows or for those just living together.

Perhaps because there isn’t the same level of commitment, or maybe because you don’t feel the same level of security. The same is not found when studying those who have committed to living forever without ever formally tying the knot. [Read: Tips to make living together before marriage work]

10. The peace of mind of having an emergency contact

When you go to the doctor and have to fill out those intake forms, one of the first questions is, “who is your emergency contact?” If you are in a marriage, there is no thought needed – the answer is automatic. Your spouse is your emergency contact.

Being someone’s go-to when something drastic happens is about so much more than just a number to call. Marriage is about having one person whom you know you can always rely on to have your back. They defend you and love you unconditionally.

Many say that no one will ever love you like your mother, but we don’t subscribe to that. The person you marry loves you just as much as your mother, just differently. [Read: How to be happy in a marriage]

11. Married couples raise healthier kids

Studies have shown that children who grow up in a dual-parent home fare better than those who grow up in a household headed by a single parent.

They have less anxiety, engage less in risky behaviors, have a lower risk of teen pregnancy, a lower risk of drug dependency, and are overall more stable as adults. Marriage is not only healthy for you, it is healthy for the entire family. [Read: Why it takes having his kid to know he’s bad for you]

But really, marriage is amazing for being committed to one another

Marriage is about supporting one another, being there to lean on each other when your legs can’t hold the weight themselves, and never having to be someone else to please the other. If the world were to end tomorrow, having someone to hold you tight is one of the most comforting feelings that anyone can have.

Humans were not meant to be alone. If we were, we would not have been given the tools of emotional bonding, empathy, and the capacity for love. Not every marriage is going to be perfect. We will go one step further and say that no marriage is going to be perfect. But it is in the imperfection that makes it work.

[Read: 20 really good reasons to get married and live happily ever after]

There will likely be times when you get so upset, frustrated, and angry that you may see no benefits in marriage. But science just doesn’t support it. Being committed to another and being accountable to the one person who will always have your heart is the best health boost that anyone can have.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...