Two lovers gaze longingly into each others’ eyes as they say “I do.” The bride and groom tell you they couldn’t be happier. But, what’s the story five or ten years down the road? Are married people happier than single people?
Christine Carter thinks so. Dr. Carter is a sociologist and happiness expert best known for her science-based parenting advice. She conducts classes to provide couples the tools and knowledge needed to pursue happy and fulfilling lives.
Based on Dr. Carter’s thorough research, she recently posted an article presenting her reasons of why she feels married people are happier. “As annoying to divorced and never-married singles everywhere as it is, mountains of research show that being married has pretty large positive effects on husbands and wives. I’ve been reviewing all this research, and married people tend to be happier, more satisfied with their lives and less depressed. They tend to be healthier, too.” She continues to explain how married people are continually more satisfied with their lives than unmarried people. Her studies also show that happy people are more likely to get married to begin with. But, is marriage really one big happy rainbow as she makes it out to be?
The answer is more tricky than what Carter illustrates. Most studies, like the one she referenced, only include groups who are currently married or who got married and stayed married. The couples who divorced are set aside or are included with the single people. It appears that you can’t say that getting married makes you happier if you only count the people who were married and stayed together.
Researchers often exclude individuals that were divorced, as well as those who indicated that they were headed for divorce. So, the questions is: Can you let the happiness of the currently-married group get pulled down by those who are married and not happy? When studies seem to show that married people are better off, that’s not because getting married transforms single people into blissfully happy and healthy couples. It is often because the methodology of these studies is a set-up for inaccurate data. All of the people whose marriages didn’t work are not counted in the comparisons. So the real conclusion is that in some studies, people who get married are better off than people who stay single, as long as you do not count all the people who were married and then were separated or divorced.
The key to approaching new research and the “mountains of studies” which already exist on marriage is to take it with a large grain of salt. No experiment is done perfectly or without bias. So, it’s important to consider who is conducting the study, why, and how. It’s easy to say that people who are married are happier if you ignore those who have become unhappy in their marriage.
Jeffrey Feulner and the Men’s Divorce Law Firm encourage people to gauge their personal happiness from within and factors under direct control. If you feel unhappy in your present situation, contact us today to learn about your options. Sometimes, divorce is not the only option and we can refer you and your spouse to skilled, trusted marriage counselors.