Unwed couples 'happier' than married ones

Thursday, January 19, 2012
Unwed couples 'happier' than married ones

After decades of claims they were 'living in sin' unwed couples might finally have the last laugh, with a new study finding unmarried partners are happier than their married counterparts.

The research — published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that cohabiting couples experience greater levels of happiness and self-esteem than married couples.

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Study leader Dr Kelly Musick from Cornell University looked at 2,737 single men and women, 896 of whom married or moved in with a partner over the course of six years.

The participants were questioned about their happiness, levels of depression, health and social activity.

The results showed a dramatic increase in general wellbeing immediately following both marriage and moving in with a partner.

This honeymoon period was short-lived however, with both married and de facto couples quickly reporting higher levels of depression and lower levels of happiness — though they were still better off than single people.

In the long-term, the study found that while married couples tended to have better physical health, cohabiting partners were generally happier and had higher self-esteem.

"We found that differences between marriage and cohabitation tend to be small and dissipate after a honeymoon period," Dr Musick said.

"Also while married couples experienced health gains — likely linked to the formal benefits of marriage such as shared healthcare plans — cohabiting couples experienced greater gains in happiness and self-esteem.

Related: Parents DO have a favourite child

"Marriage has long been an important social institution… However our research shows that marriage is by no means unique in promoting well-being and that other forms of romantic relationships can provide many of the same benefits."

Your say: Do you think marriage is important?

Video: Secrets to a happy marriage

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