Maybe it's because I'm a product of divorce, maybe it's because I'm only in my first real relationship at the age of 24, or maybe it's because I feel like I'm constantly hearing stories about people "settling," but I've always tended to be wary of people who claim being married makes you a happier person. That being said, a recent study calls everything I was pretty confident about into question by claiming that being married makes you happier overall.
I mean, I could see how being married would make you happier in the short term. I've heard about "the honeymoon phase." But after that, I never genuinely believed that marriage could really be this magical thing that makes you happier, not only right after it, but for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. But, according to the study, it actually is.
The study, published in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies, pulled findings from two surveys done in the UK to look into people's happiness levels based on whether or not they were married. Both surveys were pretty massive, the first one compiling information from about 30,000 people, and the second garnering responses from a whopping 328,000 participants. Once the study's authors, Shawn Grover and John Helliwell of the Vancouver School of Economics in Canada, investigated the results of both surveys, they found that married life was overall much better for people's mental health.
Well, there's one catch, though. It's not strictly better for married people only. Apparently, the researchers also found that those people in long-term relationships who live together also reported similar happiness levels as the married people did. So it's not necessarily the institution of marriage that makes people happiest. It's the lifelong companionship.
While I really only believed that this sort of shift in happiness exists in the honeymoon phase, the study found that I couldn't have been more wrong. "Even after years the married are still more satisfied," said Helliwell. "This suggests a causal effect at all stages of the marriage, from pre-nuptial bliss to marriages of long-duration."
Even middle-aged people, who generally tend to be unhappier than people in other stages of life, according to Science Daily, were able to enjoy an elevated level of happiness if they were married. "Marriage may help ease the causes of a mid-life dip in life satisfaction and the benefits of marriage are unlikely to be short-lived," Helliwell explained.
All of these positive effects only get better if you "regard [your] spouse as [your] best friend," according to Helliwell. So, with that being said, if you get the chance to marry your best friend, take it. You'll be happier you did. Seriously. Science says so.
At the end of the day, though, if you're single with no marriage prospect in sight, first and foremost, you are not alone, nor are you doomed to live an unhappy life. I still stand by my belief that you can be just as happy on your own with no long-term relationship. If this study proves anything, it's that solid friendships and relationships that last a lifetime can make people happy. So you don't have a bae? Create a group of close friends who can provide you with that same level of companionship.
As for you lucky people who have found the person you're meant to spend the rest of your life with, take these findings as an extra reason to be grateful for this awesome love you've stumbled upon.
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