Married or Not

Married or Not

A misunderstanding of positive psychology studies has credited the idea that married people would be happier than unmarried people.

Married people have greater satisfaction with their own lives when compared to unmarried people (divorced, widowed, married but separated). Yes, in this sense, and only in this sense, they are happier. However, because studies show correlations and not causal relationships, it is not clear whether people become happier because they get married or people who are already happier tend to marry to a greater extent.

However, people who have always been single (unmarried) have the same level of well-being as married people. According to many studies, married people return to their initial level of happiness after about two years. Example:

Harding-Hidore, M. & Stock, William & Okun, Morris & Witter, Robert. (1985). Marital Status and Subjective Well-Being: A Research Synthesis. Journal of Marriage and the Family. 47. 10.2307 / 352338.

Where from do those who never get married get their joy of living? There can be many sources: from the relations with the family, from the relations with the friends, from the involvement in the community, from a very interesting work and from the service of a higher cause.For an unmarried woman or man there is always an alternative to other meaningful relationships. Not only is there nothing dramatic about being alone but there are a number of rewards that married people do not enjoy as often or at the same intensity. For example, if you are a single person, you are in a very happy situation to choose your friends, while, as a husband or wife, you have to support your partner’s friends. How the perfect partner is a myth, in the same way the unfulfilled life of a single person is a myth. Psychologist Bella de Paulo wrote a beautiful article:

DePaulo, B. M., & Morris, W. L. (2005). Singles in society and in science. Psychological Inquiry, 16, 57-83.

People can be happy (or unhappy) both if they get married and if they don’t get married. Marital relationships change the level of life satisfaction but not too much.

Objective circumstances (the house you live in, marital status, the presence or absence of children, the car you drive, the places where you spend your vacations, income, etc.) have an aggregate impact of no more than 10% on the subjective feeling of satisfaction with life. Much more important are the genes, on which we can do nothing, with an influence of around 50%. The ways in which we think and act, under our control, the way we relate to the marital relationship: appreciation, tenderness, gratitude, surprises, etc. they have a much greater impact than just being married.

40%, this is our freedom that we can exercise in an intelligent way, understanding what cannot be changed and what can be changed and, especially, how!

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