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The best predictor of happiness in America? Marriage

A new survey found a 30-percentage point happiness divide between married and unmarried Americans

August 2, 2023 - 6:15pm

Americans who are married with children are now leading happier and more prosperous lives, on average, than men and women who are single and childless.

Is that statement surprising? In an age that prizes individualism, workism, and a host of other self-centric “isms” above marriage and family, it may well be. But the reality is that nothing currently predicts happiness in life better than a good marriage. 

This truth is borne out yet again in new research from the University of Chicago, which found that marriage is the “the most important differentiator” of who is happy in America, and that falling marriage rates are a chief reason why happiness has declined nationally. The research, surveying thousands of respondents, revealed a startling 30-percentage-point happiness divide between married and unmarried Americans. This happiness boost held true for both men and women.

“Marital status is and has been a very important marker for happiness,” researcher Sam Peltzman concludes. “The happiness landslide comes entirely from the married. Low happiness characterizes all types of non-married. No subsequent population categorization will yield so large a difference in happiness across so many people.”

Other factors do matter — including income, educational achievement, race, and geography — but marital status is most influential when it comes to predicting happiness in the study. “This difference is stable over time. It is about the same whether the unmarried state is due to divorce, separation, death of spouse or never having married,” Peltzman says.

What’s more, he finds that happiness has fallen since the turn of the millennium, and points to marriage as the biggest driver of that decline. In his words, the “recent decline in the married share of adults can explain (statistically) most of the recent decline in overall happiness”.

Notably, this decline has been concentrated among less educated and lower-income Americans; college-educated and affluent Americans have seen virtually no dip in their happiness. Psychologist and author Dr. Jean Twenge, in her own analysis of the General Social Survey, finds that the decline in marriage among working-class and poor Americans is one of the biggest factors explaining the growing happiness divide between the privileged and unprivileged.

The bottom line is that the United States is increasingly riven when it comes to happiness between the haves and have-nots, in large part because record numbers of less privileged Americans are not succeeding at getting, not to mention remaining, married. 

To fix what ails America, we need to renew marriage and familial ties, especially in poor and working-class communities where the fabric of family life is weakest. A big step forward would be to eliminate marriage penalties that keep too many parents from exchanging vows. The blame lies at the federal level, where policymakers have established tax and safety-net benefits over the last six decades that too frequently punish marriage, especially for the working class and poor. Programmes like Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit, for instance, often penalise couples with kids if they marry. The Government must stop making marriage a bad financial bet for lower-income families.

It’s well past time we acknowledged that helping American men and women build meaningful and satisfying lives for themselves and their children requires a renewed emphasis on the importance of marriage. This should not be dependent on where they sit across the class divide. 


Brad Wilcox, professor of sociology and director of the National Marriage Project, is the Future of Freedom Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies. David Bass is the director of communications for the Institute for Family Studies.

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Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago

Ancient wisdom the world has known for millennia: you get happy in the short term by doing what you want, but you get happy in the long term by doing what you should. And yet due to the foibles, failures and foolishness of mankind, we are constantly blinded to this truth, and so choose long term misery over long term happiness over and over again.

The compromise, self-sacrifice and negotiation inherent in marriage is the secret sauce of family life — and the true definition of Love. It is precisely because your wife or baby demands so much from you, that ultimately the relationship can yield the greatest happiness for you.

Humans are simply too blinkered by their passions and self-interest to remember this when making decisions day to day. And hence we need external guides — from the law, the church, friends, media, etc — to keep us on the path of happiness.

This would all have been so blindingly obvious to everyone until just a few decades ago, when we got too smart for our own good and put our personal desires at the center of our worldviews — a Copernican revolution that has yielded decades of misery cloaked in the false promises of personal authenticity and freedom.

Last edited 11 months ago by Kirk Susong
Ali Maegraith
Ali Maegraith
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

A few days ago a young man said to be ‘ I really long for companionship, friendship and someone to be with in everyday life’. When I suggested that it sounds like he’s looking for a wife he replied ‘oh no- I’m really not ready for that!!’

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
11 months ago
Reply to  Ali Maegraith

I work with young people who are jaded by the broken relationships of their parents that they can only see a bleak future of work and taxes. The blind selfishness that has led to this has a lot to answer for. My happiest days aren’t spent travelling or working, they are spent in the company of my husband and we increased that happiness when we expanded our family unit.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
11 months ago
Reply to  Ali Maegraith

I work with young people who are jaded by the broken relationships of their parents that they can only see a bleak future of work and taxes. The blind selfishness that has led to this has a lot to answer for. My happiest days aren’t spent travelling or working, they are spent in the company of my husband and we increased that happiness when we expanded our family unit.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Exactly – we need to practice Courage, Temperance, acting justly and Prudence (maybe faith hope and charity) to feel happiness – the Greeks noticed this a while ago, and the moral virtues have continued to be true throughout the ages.

Will K
Will K
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

self sacrifice, negotiation, love, all such virtues can be wiped out by a spouse who unilaterally decides to end it. When I asked my divorce lawyer how to apply our marriage vows, his answer was “those don’t count, legally”.

Last edited 11 months ago by Will K
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago
Reply to  Will K

Rare is the wife who abandons a husband who places her interests above his own. But I’m sure it does happen now and then. (PS. I’m divorced myself.)

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago
Reply to  Will K

Rare is the wife who abandons a husband who places her interests above his own. But I’m sure it does happen now and then. (PS. I’m divorced myself.)

Ali Maegraith
Ali Maegraith
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

A few days ago a young man said to be ‘ I really long for companionship, friendship and someone to be with in everyday life’. When I suggested that it sounds like he’s looking for a wife he replied ‘oh no- I’m really not ready for that!!’

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Exactly – we need to practice Courage, Temperance, acting justly and Prudence (maybe faith hope and charity) to feel happiness – the Greeks noticed this a while ago, and the moral virtues have continued to be true throughout the ages.

Will K
Will K
11 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

self sacrifice, negotiation, love, all such virtues can be wiped out by a spouse who unilaterally decides to end it. When I asked my divorce lawyer how to apply our marriage vows, his answer was “those don’t count, legally”.

Last edited 11 months ago by Will K
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago

Ancient wisdom the world has known for millennia: you get happy in the short term by doing what you want, but you get happy in the long term by doing what you should. And yet due to the foibles, failures and foolishness of mankind, we are constantly blinded to this truth, and so choose long term misery over long term happiness over and over again.

The compromise, self-sacrifice and negotiation inherent in marriage is the secret sauce of family life — and the true definition of Love. It is precisely because your wife or baby demands so much from you, that ultimately the relationship can yield the greatest happiness for you.

Humans are simply too blinkered by their passions and self-interest to remember this when making decisions day to day. And hence we need external guides — from the law, the church, friends, media, etc — to keep us on the path of happiness.

This would all have been so blindingly obvious to everyone until just a few decades ago, when we got too smart for our own good and put our personal desires at the center of our worldviews — a Copernican revolution that has yielded decades of misery cloaked in the false promises of personal authenticity and freedom.

Last edited 11 months ago by Kirk Susong
David Morley
David Morley
11 months ago

To get married you need to find someone worth marrying, and who thinks you are worth marrying too. And someone who is likely to stay the course through thick and thin, especially if you are not well off. Such people may have become harder to find.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Nope – there’s loads of them out there.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Nope – there’s loads of them out there.

David Morley
David Morley
11 months ago

To get married you need to find someone worth marrying, and who thinks you are worth marrying too. And someone who is likely to stay the course through thick and thin, especially if you are not well off. Such people may have become harder to find.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
11 months ago

According to the US census website, the decline of marriage rates is particularly marked for Black women.

‘ This should not be dependent on where they sit across the class divide. ‘
As always, when class is discussed in America , the problem is usually race.

Just as when race is discussed in America, the problem is usually class.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
11 months ago

According to the US census website, the decline of marriage rates is particularly marked for Black women.

‘ This should not be dependent on where they sit across the class divide. ‘
As always, when class is discussed in America , the problem is usually race.

Just as when race is discussed in America, the problem is usually class.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
11 months ago

It may also have something to do with religion. Religious people tend to marry more than nonreligious ones.

Apo State
Apo State
11 months ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

I was thinking along similar lines…sort of an analogy to “healthy vaccine bias”. Are there specific traits that are more common among those who actually get married (aot living together or being single)? Might the type of people who marry be more likely to be religious, conservative, responsible, community-minded, etc — which would skew the happiness data? I suspect so.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
11 months ago
Reply to  Apo State

People who put higher priority on their social statues also tend to marry repeatedly. Many ambitious politicians follow this pattern.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
11 months ago
Reply to  Apo State

People who put higher priority on their social statues also tend to marry repeatedly. Many ambitious politicians follow this pattern.

Apo State
Apo State
11 months ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

I was thinking along similar lines…sort of an analogy to “healthy vaccine bias”. Are there specific traits that are more common among those who actually get married (aot living together or being single)? Might the type of people who marry be more likely to be religious, conservative, responsible, community-minded, etc — which would skew the happiness data? I suspect so.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
11 months ago

It may also have something to do with religion. Religious people tend to marry more than nonreligious ones.

B Davis
B Davis
11 months ago

Well…yes & no.
Prof. Peltzman, the author of the UC Study, which takes as its foundation the data generated from the biennial GSS Happiness Survey, makes what would seem to be an entirely egregious assumption about the survey results he’s seeking to analyze.
In order to understand the mistake, however, we must first begin with the central survey question itself, which asks: “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days–would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?” Clearly this tilts all answers towards the ‘Happy’ side, given that no one can answer, “I am UNhappy”.
Intuitively, though, this does seem to make sense. It seems reasonable to believe that most people feel generally ‘happy’…especially as they compare themselves and their life condition to others….especially given a maturity which recognizes that ‘life is hard’…and attitude is key. Thus, yes, it would be entirely appropriate to believe that the average adult, asked the happiness question would indeed recognize that, as long as their life is not haunted by something entirely terrible at the present moment (terminal disease, the loss of a child or a spouse, etc.) then they are either ‘very happy’ or ‘pretty happy’. Why not?
But Prof. Peltzman, instead, “rescaled” the survey answers. He gave ‘100’ to ‘Very Happy’ and recategorized those responses as ‘Happy’. He assigned a -100 value to ‘Not Too Happy’ and recategorized those responses as “Sad”…and he, rather bizarrely, recategorized “Pretty Happy” as “Neither” and gave those responses a zero. In other words he reduced & shifted the entire scale to attempt to remove (though this reason is not made explicit) the ‘Happiness Tilt’. In effect he reconfigured the survey data to look more like a two party election. As he himself says in the survey, the 50% who chose ‘pretty happy’ became “non-voters in (his) two-way contest”.
But it’s not a two-way contest. And to say one is either ‘very happy’ or ‘pretty happy’ is indeed to say one is happy. This casual discard of 50% of all respondents seems entirely irresponsible. And the resulting conclusions, that much more dubious.
Certain significant data trends would still hold true, of course, but their magnitude would be potentially, seriously distorted.
So yes, being married is strongly correlated with those who say they are ‘very happy’. (And It would be interesting to see the correlation between ‘pretty happy’ and ‘married’ but the professor has placed that outside his study…so we can only guess) But he himself notes that this correlation is not necessarily causation, asking “Is that (correlation) because marriage produces happiness or because unhappy people tend to be difficult to live with or because they sort out of the marriage market and on and on or all of the above.”
We don’t know. He doesn’t either. So perhaps it is premature to recommend, as the authors do, that “we need to renew marriage and familial ties, especially in poor and working-class communities where the fabric of family life is weakest.”
Indeed, Peltzman’s analysis does tend to confirm that lower incomes do correlate with lower ‘very happy’ ratings…but even that is haunted by Easterlin’s Paradox which notes the correlation between Happiness & Income at a fixed time point, but highlights that it is not maintained over multiple points. (The distinction between income and wealth is probably also critical)
His analysis also notes the positive correlation between ideological conservatism (self-identified) and happiness…mirrored, of course, by a similar correlation between ‘liberalism’ and ‘sadness’. We see similar patterns when we look at college education & happiness (going up) and less than a HS education and ‘sadness’….and race & happiness (White Up / Black down…though the difference is narrowing)
But again, which is egg and which is chicken?
Should we advise people to become Married, Older, White Conservatives with college degrees because that will make them happy? Or are we simply observing that those who are satisfied with the life they’ve built tend to be married, older, educated, White conservatives?
Again, these correlations seem at least superficially reasonable…but even they are haunted by similar correlations that would equally seem reasonable… but are contradictory, an unmentioned. We might guess, as a for instance, that lower income/blue collar individuals tend more conservative..thereby raising their happiness quotient if the relationship is causal. Their lack of a college degree, however, might send it the other direction. On the other hand, a college degree in Gender Studies which enables only a job as a Starbucks Barista might equally send the happiness rating the wrong way as incomes drop.
If we assume, reasonably so, that family relationships encourage happiness …and family is a function of marriage…then we can understand marriage being correlated with happiness. But equally we might assume that larger family size is more associated with lower income rates which is more correlated with ‘sadness’.
We also recognize that the out-of-wedlock birthrate in the Black community runs at about 70%…and that poverty is strongly correlated with single-parent households….and that violent crime is strongly associated with Black communities (with a murder rate almost 10X the White murder rate). So which again is the chicken and which the egg? Clearly the struggles of an unwed mother, living on public assistance programs, in a neighborhood with an insane murder rate would tend to generate “sad” survey responses.
In the end we arrive back where we started, unenlightened by 50 years of survey data, but convinced that — in general — those qualities that we believe to be morally good… love, marriage, family, two-parent households, steady jobs, and a general maturity…. build good and happy lives. Is anyone surprised?

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
11 months ago
Reply to  B Davis

Great comment. It points up that the term “science”, when used in the compound “social science”, is often a mere courtesy title, like giving an honorary university doctorate a popular figure.

Andrew Nugee
Andrew Nugee
11 months ago
Reply to  B Davis

Exactly. Even allowing for the distortion you highlight, there is apparently a correlation. But what evidence of*causation*?

Erin Dufault-Hunter
Erin Dufault-Hunter
10 months ago
Reply to  B Davis

I take your points re data analysis — always good to look into those details for a better sense of what is or is not actually being measured.
But the note re “Is anyone surprised?” is that, yes, many people (young women in particular) assume that raising children in a “traditional” family will ruin their lives. See the recent Tik Toc video of a young woman who mocks such a life, with millions of hits (https://www.tiktok.com/@nunca3627x/video/7233138818809924870)?
That’s why it IS surprising. Many men and women are being told kids only ruin your life, marriage is a capstone not a foundation for life, etc. etc.
As a woman who has kids and works outside the home (and loves that): The scripts being offered men and women these days do not correlate to the data noted here. Sociologists can only offer the data and help us see the water we swim in.
A cautionary note: I have a liberal arts degree; I do not happen to be a barista but nothin’ wrong with that BTW despite the dig at working class folks in your post (which seemed unnecessary to your good points).

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
11 months ago
Reply to  B Davis

Great comment. It points up that the term “science”, when used in the compound “social science”, is often a mere courtesy title, like giving an honorary university doctorate a popular figure.

Andrew Nugee
Andrew Nugee
11 months ago
Reply to  B Davis

Exactly. Even allowing for the distortion you highlight, there is apparently a correlation. But what evidence of*causation*?

Erin Dufault-Hunter
Erin Dufault-Hunter
10 months ago
Reply to  B Davis

I take your points re data analysis — always good to look into those details for a better sense of what is or is not actually being measured.
But the note re “Is anyone surprised?” is that, yes, many people (young women in particular) assume that raising children in a “traditional” family will ruin their lives. See the recent Tik Toc video of a young woman who mocks such a life, with millions of hits (https://www.tiktok.com/@nunca3627x/video/7233138818809924870)?
That’s why it IS surprising. Many men and women are being told kids only ruin your life, marriage is a capstone not a foundation for life, etc. etc.
As a woman who has kids and works outside the home (and loves that): The scripts being offered men and women these days do not correlate to the data noted here. Sociologists can only offer the data and help us see the water we swim in.
A cautionary note: I have a liberal arts degree; I do not happen to be a barista but nothin’ wrong with that BTW despite the dig at working class folks in your post (which seemed unnecessary to your good points).

B Davis
B Davis
11 months ago

Well…yes & no.
Prof. Peltzman, the author of the UC Study, which takes as its foundation the data generated from the biennial GSS Happiness Survey, makes what would seem to be an entirely egregious assumption about the survey results he’s seeking to analyze.
In order to understand the mistake, however, we must first begin with the central survey question itself, which asks: “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days–would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?” Clearly this tilts all answers towards the ‘Happy’ side, given that no one can answer, “I am UNhappy”.
Intuitively, though, this does seem to make sense. It seems reasonable to believe that most people feel generally ‘happy’…especially as they compare themselves and their life condition to others….especially given a maturity which recognizes that ‘life is hard’…and attitude is key. Thus, yes, it would be entirely appropriate to believe that the average adult, asked the happiness question would indeed recognize that, as long as their life is not haunted by something entirely terrible at the present moment (terminal disease, the loss of a child or a spouse, etc.) then they are either ‘very happy’ or ‘pretty happy’. Why not?
But Prof. Peltzman, instead, “rescaled” the survey answers. He gave ‘100’ to ‘Very Happy’ and recategorized those responses as ‘Happy’. He assigned a -100 value to ‘Not Too Happy’ and recategorized those responses as “Sad”…and he, rather bizarrely, recategorized “Pretty Happy” as “Neither” and gave those responses a zero. In other words he reduced & shifted the entire scale to attempt to remove (though this reason is not made explicit) the ‘Happiness Tilt’. In effect he reconfigured the survey data to look more like a two party election. As he himself says in the survey, the 50% who chose ‘pretty happy’ became “non-voters in (his) two-way contest”.
But it’s not a two-way contest. And to say one is either ‘very happy’ or ‘pretty happy’ is indeed to say one is happy. This casual discard of 50% of all respondents seems entirely irresponsible. And the resulting conclusions, that much more dubious.
Certain significant data trends would still hold true, of course, but their magnitude would be potentially, seriously distorted.
So yes, being married is strongly correlated with those who say they are ‘very happy’. (And It would be interesting to see the correlation between ‘pretty happy’ and ‘married’ but the professor has placed that outside his study…so we can only guess) But he himself notes that this correlation is not necessarily causation, asking “Is that (correlation) because marriage produces happiness or because unhappy people tend to be difficult to live with or because they sort out of the marriage market and on and on or all of the above.”
We don’t know. He doesn’t either. So perhaps it is premature to recommend, as the authors do, that “we need to renew marriage and familial ties, especially in poor and working-class communities where the fabric of family life is weakest.”
Indeed, Peltzman’s analysis does tend to confirm that lower incomes do correlate with lower ‘very happy’ ratings…but even that is haunted by Easterlin’s Paradox which notes the correlation between Happiness & Income at a fixed time point, but highlights that it is not maintained over multiple points. (The distinction between income and wealth is probably also critical)
His analysis also notes the positive correlation between ideological conservatism (self-identified) and happiness…mirrored, of course, by a similar correlation between ‘liberalism’ and ‘sadness’. We see similar patterns when we look at college education & happiness (going up) and less than a HS education and ‘sadness’….and race & happiness (White Up / Black down…though the difference is narrowing)
But again, which is egg and which is chicken?
Should we advise people to become Married, Older, White Conservatives with college degrees because that will make them happy? Or are we simply observing that those who are satisfied with the life they’ve built tend to be married, older, educated, White conservatives?
Again, these correlations seem at least superficially reasonable…but even they are haunted by similar correlations that would equally seem reasonable… but are contradictory, an unmentioned. We might guess, as a for instance, that lower income/blue collar individuals tend more conservative..thereby raising their happiness quotient if the relationship is causal. Their lack of a college degree, however, might send it the other direction. On the other hand, a college degree in Gender Studies which enables only a job as a Starbucks Barista might equally send the happiness rating the wrong way as incomes drop.
If we assume, reasonably so, that family relationships encourage happiness …and family is a function of marriage…then we can understand marriage being correlated with happiness. But equally we might assume that larger family size is more associated with lower income rates which is more correlated with ‘sadness’.
We also recognize that the out-of-wedlock birthrate in the Black community runs at about 70%…and that poverty is strongly correlated with single-parent households….and that violent crime is strongly associated with Black communities (with a murder rate almost 10X the White murder rate). So which again is the chicken and which the egg? Clearly the struggles of an unwed mother, living on public assistance programs, in a neighborhood with an insane murder rate would tend to generate “sad” survey responses.
In the end we arrive back where we started, unenlightened by 50 years of survey data, but convinced that — in general — those qualities that we believe to be morally good… love, marriage, family, two-parent households, steady jobs, and a general maturity…. build good and happy lives. Is anyone surprised?

David Morley
David Morley
11 months ago

It is about the same whether the unmarried state is due to divorce, separation, death of spouse or never having married

When you think about it, that’s not really surprising. Most of the people in those categories have been through trauma, and a significant proportion of the “never having married” won’t be single by choice. That’s probably a source of unhappiness to them. For a large number of the divorced and separated this will not have been their choice. Another source of despondency.

Also a large number of those happily married are heading for a crash. The divorce rate is high. So they are only happy for now.

Last edited 11 months ago by David Morley
J Hop
J Hop
11 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

So people in marriages heading for divorce report themselves happy? That doesn’t make sense.

David Morley
David Morley
11 months ago
Reply to  J Hop

I’m assuming they are not unhappy from day one.

Will K
Will K
11 months ago
Reply to  J Hop

In my experience, one spouse was happy, one unhappy.

David Morley
David Morley
11 months ago
Reply to  J Hop

I’m assuming they are not unhappy from day one.

Will K
Will K
11 months ago
Reply to  J Hop

In my experience, one spouse was happy, one unhappy.

J Hop
J Hop
11 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

So people in marriages heading for divorce report themselves happy? That doesn’t make sense.

David Morley
David Morley
11 months ago

It is about the same whether the unmarried state is due to divorce, separation, death of spouse or never having married

When you think about it, that’s not really surprising. Most of the people in those categories have been through trauma, and a significant proportion of the “never having married” won’t be single by choice. That’s probably a source of unhappiness to them. For a large number of the divorced and separated this will not have been their choice. Another source of despondency.

Also a large number of those happily married are heading for a crash. The divorce rate is high. So they are only happy for now.

Last edited 11 months ago by David Morley
Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
11 months ago

which is why woke is a war on joy

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago

Very true

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago

Very true

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
11 months ago

which is why woke is a war on joy

Sam C
Sam C
11 months ago

Not to be all logical and everything, but all the study actually shows is that people who will claim to be happy are also more likely to be married. That’s correlation, not causation. Could be a sunk cost fallacy. They invested so much with one person saying they’re unhappy would force them to acknowledge to themselves how much they’ve wasted. And it’s not at all certain that those who claim to be happy are actually any happier that those who are not. It’s like saying whether you’re attractive. It’s possible they are, but it’s also possible they are not. There’s no real objective measure.

Sam C
Sam C
11 months ago

Not to be all logical and everything, but all the study actually shows is that people who will claim to be happy are also more likely to be married. That’s correlation, not causation. Could be a sunk cost fallacy. They invested so much with one person saying they’re unhappy would force them to acknowledge to themselves how much they’ve wasted. And it’s not at all certain that those who claim to be happy are actually any happier that those who are not. It’s like saying whether you’re attractive. It’s possible they are, but it’s also possible they are not. There’s no real objective measure.

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
11 months ago

The government should not discourage marriage, but it seems to me that many of its programs to alleviate poverty or the costs of unwed motherhood take the place of the family and discourage marriage. Years ago, families discouraged promiscuity, illegitimacy and profligacy, and acted as something of a safety net for their own children. Were there costs to this? Yes. Did it work perfectly? No. But did it work better than what we have? The answer seems obvious.

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
11 months ago

The government should not discourage marriage, but it seems to me that many of its programs to alleviate poverty or the costs of unwed motherhood take the place of the family and discourage marriage. Years ago, families discouraged promiscuity, illegitimacy and profligacy, and acted as something of a safety net for their own children. Were there costs to this? Yes. Did it work perfectly? No. But did it work better than what we have? The answer seems obvious.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago

Does it that marriage is the cause of people’s happiness, or that those who are happier are more likely to get married?
I’d wager that those who get married are more likely to be more financially secure than those that aren’t (better jobs, own their own home, kids etc) which may be as much a cause of their happiness than marriage itself.
A young couple living hand to mouth in a grotty overpriced rental are more likely to be unhappy than their financially secure counterparts, and in a precarious financial situation a wedding and children are much more likely to be pushed further into the future when they’re hopefully more financially stable (at which point they’ll probably be happier)

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago

Does it that marriage is the cause of people’s happiness, or that those who are happier are more likely to get married?
I’d wager that those who get married are more likely to be more financially secure than those that aren’t (better jobs, own their own home, kids etc) which may be as much a cause of their happiness than marriage itself.
A young couple living hand to mouth in a grotty overpriced rental are more likely to be unhappy than their financially secure counterparts, and in a precarious financial situation a wedding and children are much more likely to be pushed further into the future when they’re hopefully more financially stable (at which point they’ll probably be happier)

David Pogge
David Pogge
11 months ago

This argument was already made in great detail in Coming Apart by Charles Murray.

David Pogge
David Pogge
11 months ago

This argument was already made in great detail in Coming Apart by Charles Murray.

Will K
Will K
11 months ago

Marriage is irrational. While it may initially seem a good idea to spend your life with one person, the high probability is that you will both change. I suggest defined-term agreements, with defined exit arrangements.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  Will K

You’re entirely wrong.
Marriage is a commitment, and a very rational one at that. It’s endlessly being led around by your genitals which is irrrational.
Marriage is about duty and doing the right thing. 
Marriage – whether secular or religious – exists primarily because of the transience of infatuation. You know how you can be mad into someone at the start, 24×7 shagathons etc. Pure hormones, we’re designed that way, but that never lasts more than say 6 months to a couple of years, max.
When you’re in the hormone-rush stage, marriage is superfluous, as your hormones are impelling you towards exclusivity with the person you’re obsessed with banging.
Any weak fool can be “committed” to someone they’re physically and emotionally obsessed with, during the infatuation phase. But that’s not commitment, and there is no point to marriage in that scenario.
Marriage doesn’t add anything, as you’re already super-obsessed, without having to try. But people like e.g., Adele see marriage as just a big day out, a public celebration of their current infatuation, some photos in Hello magazine etc, but certainly nothing more than that. Adele’s vows, if she made any, are entirely hollow.
People like Adele, and you, are observers at their own life. Their “commitment” is always entirely conditional on what they may or may not feel, next week, or tomorrow. As soon as they feel a pang of lust for another person, that’s it, they’re off again, dusting off their “exit arrangements”. Only encroaching middle age and decreasing physical attractiveness slows them down, but then they always feel trapped and miserable. Essentially they want to stay 24 forever, and have endless short-term flings, with super-duper knee-trembler orgasms on tap.
Which is arrested-development idiocy, but hey knock yourself out if you want to live like you’re immortal, when in reality all our lives are fleeting.
But this whole edifice of navel-gazing nonsense is incompatible with assuming responsibility for the growth and development of new human beings, which is a major part of any marriage.
Don’t start that if you’re going to bail on it, like a godamned snivelling weakling.
You make a choice – am I ruled by my genitals, or not? And people like Adele are, essentially, ruled by their genitals. Their life is a permanent quest for the perfect orgasm. If you ever read Cosmo magazine, you can glean the mindset – about 50% of Cosmopolitan’s magazine’ articles are about finding the perfect orgasm. This arrested-development navel-gazing twaddle is presented as being “liberated”.
Marriage is a wise and pragmatic recognition of the biological fact that physical infatuations wane (or we’d get no work done) and settle down.
If you make the mistake of thinking that you should always follow your “feelings”, then, logically, you’d be looking to re-marry about once a year, for most of us.
Marriage is about prioritising other people, it’s about service, that’s the nature of love. Someone takes a chance on you, stick with them. Respect them. Care for them. Man up, woman up, and stop acting like a teenager.
Oh, and most kids who are brutalised / abused / murdered in their homes are the victims of a step mum or stepdad.
Every flipping time. Poor child abused and murdered in appalling circumstances. Always, always, it’s a stepdad or step mum.
But hey, that’s all right because the parent who initiated the divorce is once again having amazing knee-tremblers.
Stupid twats

Last edited 11 months ago by Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  Will K

You’re entirely wrong.
Marriage is a commitment, and a very rational one at that. It’s endlessly being led around by your genitals which is irrrational.
Marriage is about duty and doing the right thing. 
Marriage – whether secular or religious – exists primarily because of the transience of infatuation. You know how you can be mad into someone at the start, 24×7 shagathons etc. Pure hormones, we’re designed that way, but that never lasts more than say 6 months to a couple of years, max.
When you’re in the hormone-rush stage, marriage is superfluous, as your hormones are impelling you towards exclusivity with the person you’re obsessed with banging.
Any weak fool can be “committed” to someone they’re physically and emotionally obsessed with, during the infatuation phase. But that’s not commitment, and there is no point to marriage in that scenario.
Marriage doesn’t add anything, as you’re already super-obsessed, without having to try. But people like e.g., Adele see marriage as just a big day out, a public celebration of their current infatuation, some photos in Hello magazine etc, but certainly nothing more than that. Adele’s vows, if she made any, are entirely hollow.
People like Adele, and you, are observers at their own life. Their “commitment” is always entirely conditional on what they may or may not feel, next week, or tomorrow. As soon as they feel a pang of lust for another person, that’s it, they’re off again, dusting off their “exit arrangements”. Only encroaching middle age and decreasing physical attractiveness slows them down, but then they always feel trapped and miserable. Essentially they want to stay 24 forever, and have endless short-term flings, with super-duper knee-trembler orgasms on tap.
Which is arrested-development idiocy, but hey knock yourself out if you want to live like you’re immortal, when in reality all our lives are fleeting.
But this whole edifice of navel-gazing nonsense is incompatible with assuming responsibility for the growth and development of new human beings, which is a major part of any marriage.
Don’t start that if you’re going to bail on it, like a godamned snivelling weakling.
You make a choice – am I ruled by my genitals, or not? And people like Adele are, essentially, ruled by their genitals. Their life is a permanent quest for the perfect orgasm. If you ever read Cosmo magazine, you can glean the mindset – about 50% of Cosmopolitan’s magazine’ articles are about finding the perfect orgasm. This arrested-development navel-gazing twaddle is presented as being “liberated”.
Marriage is a wise and pragmatic recognition of the biological fact that physical infatuations wane (or we’d get no work done) and settle down.
If you make the mistake of thinking that you should always follow your “feelings”, then, logically, you’d be looking to re-marry about once a year, for most of us.
Marriage is about prioritising other people, it’s about service, that’s the nature of love. Someone takes a chance on you, stick with them. Respect them. Care for them. Man up, woman up, and stop acting like a teenager.
Oh, and most kids who are brutalised / abused / murdered in their homes are the victims of a step mum or stepdad.
Every flipping time. Poor child abused and murdered in appalling circumstances. Always, always, it’s a stepdad or step mum.
But hey, that’s all right because the parent who initiated the divorce is once again having amazing knee-tremblers.
Stupid twats

Last edited 11 months ago by Frank McCusker
Will K
Will K
11 months ago

Marriage is irrational. While it may initially seem a good idea to spend your life with one person, the high probability is that you will both change. I suggest defined-term agreements, with defined exit arrangements.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago

I don’t know if the US has the equivalent of ‘civil partnerships’ as in the UK, but if it does there’s no mention of them. Not doing so gives the appearance of a hidden agenda regarding marriage.
Comparing the happiness of those in long-term civil partnerships with those who’ve “tied the knot” might reveal a different outcome, but that might also spoil the agenda.

Last edited 11 months ago by Steve Murray
Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

According to the footnote on page 11 of the paper linked in the article, the options for marital status on the General Society Survey are: married, widowed, divorced, separated and never married. These reflect the national marital status options and as far as I can tell have been unchanged since the General Society Survey was started in 1972.

I am not aware that civil unions, which exist at the state level and were mainly for gay people before the Supreme Court mangled the definition of marriage, are common in any case.

These are the likely explanations for why there is no option on the survey for some sort of “civil partnership”–rather than some obscure agenda.

A quick Google suggests that the European and Canadian “versions” of this study do indeed have an option for “civil partnership”.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

That answers the question that prefaced my comment, thanks.
The potential agenda i was alluding to is an attempt to elevate marriage in its traditional sense by those of a religious disposition. It is, of course, entirely a societal construct which has served many different purposes in different societies, and nothing wrong with that: i’ve been married.

Terry Raby
Terry Raby
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

nope, it’s almost entirely biological. Overlaid on that is monogamy, enforced lately (for say 1500 years) by the church.

Terry Raby
Terry Raby
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

nope, it’s almost entirely biological. Overlaid on that is monogamy, enforced lately (for say 1500 years) by the church.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

That answers the question that prefaced my comment, thanks.
The potential agenda i was alluding to is an attempt to elevate marriage in its traditional sense by those of a religious disposition. It is, of course, entirely a societal construct which has served many different purposes in different societies, and nothing wrong with that: i’ve been married.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

According to the footnote on page 11 of the paper linked in the article, the options for marital status on the General Society Survey are: married, widowed, divorced, separated and never married. These reflect the national marital status options and as far as I can tell have been unchanged since the General Society Survey was started in 1972.

I am not aware that civil unions, which exist at the state level and were mainly for gay people before the Supreme Court mangled the definition of marriage, are common in any case.

These are the likely explanations for why there is no option on the survey for some sort of “civil partnership”–rather than some obscure agenda.

A quick Google suggests that the European and Canadian “versions” of this study do indeed have an option for “civil partnership”.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago

I don’t know if the US has the equivalent of ‘civil partnerships’ as in the UK, but if it does there’s no mention of them. Not doing so gives the appearance of a hidden agenda regarding marriage.
Comparing the happiness of those in long-term civil partnerships with those who’ve “tied the knot” might reveal a different outcome, but that might also spoil the agenda.

Last edited 11 months ago by Steve Murray