Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Are Married Couples Happier Than Singles?

Maybe. A little bit. And not in every case.

Confused? Check out "Are Married People Happier Than Unmarried People?" at the American Psychological Association (APA) web site. This 15-year longitudinal study of 24,000 subjects reports that marriage increases life satisfaction...but only about one tenth of a point on an 11-point scale. In addition, most currently married individuals were happier people even before they tied the knot.

Interestingly, the study also found that those who are happiest before marriage have the smallest boost in life satisfaction after the wedding. Although that may seem counterintuitive, the authors concluded that singles who are already content with themselves simply can't get much happier with the addition of one person to the mix.

"An event such as marriage or divorce does not have the same implications for all individuals. A person who is very satisfied with life probably has a rich social network and has less to gain from the companionship of marriage. On the other hand, the person who is lonely and, therefore, somewhat dissatisfied, can gain much by marrying," the researchers explained.

For years, various social organizations have been ramming down our throats that marriage makes people, especially men, happier, so it's refreshing to read some research to the contrary. Of course, one could object that this study was conducted in Germany and isn't applicable to Americans, but 7,000 of the participants were immigrants, so this isn't a culturally limited phenomenon, though it's possible that certain aspects of German government or culture don't reinforce marriage as much as ours do.

In any case, this study is groundbreaking because it's the first I know of to prove that marriage is not a cure-all for social ills. People react differently to nuptial bliss. For some, the wedding bells ring in new heights of happiness. For others, not so much. But at the end of the day, your happiness compass is set where it is, and your contentment level returns to its true north.

That's why it's so important to stop waiting for someone else to make you happy. Take your happiness into your own hands. Have you always wanted to move to California? Have dreams of directing your own film? What are you waiting for? One tenth of a point?

As Bobby McFerrin put it if you're old enough to remember, "Don't worry. Be happy." And you don't need anyone else to do that. I think Bobby knew it, too. He was a one-man band.

In your experience, are married couples happier than singles? If you've ever been married, were you happier married than single? How about unmarried couples? Do you think they're happier than singles? Were you happier when part of a couple? Do you think that being in a relationship or marriage in the future will make you happier than you are now? Why or why not?

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