I’m always looking at new studies and research projects about marriage and love and relationships in general. The other day, an article of Huffington post caught my eye because it talks about a new study released Thursday from Michigan State University. The study was conducted to see if marriage actually makes people happier. At first, I thought the answer was obvious: a happy marriage probably makes people happier, an unhappy marriage – not so much. But the study results are less cut and dried and more interesting.
To quote Huffington Post,
The study, which will be published in the Journal of Research in Personality, shows that while married people are not necessarily happier than they were when they were single, marriage “appears to protect against normal declines in happiness during adulthood” that happen over time.”
In other words, marriage may not necessarily make you happier than when you were single (I guess THAT does depend on how happy your marriage is), it can keep you from much of the unhappiness that many people go through as they age. Interesting.
This makes sense to me.
As you age you generally build up regrets, perceived failures and a list of things you never got around to and then combine those with health concerns and anxiety about aging in general. Apparently, being married can help combat those feelings.
Huffington Post interviewed Steve C.Y. Yap, a researcher in the psychology department and one of the people who led the Michigan State study. He had some pretty interesting things to say about the results. At one point, he answered my biggest question, which was how they defined happiness.
What kind of “happier” are married people?
Our data suggests that married people are happier than they would have been if they didn’t get married. Marriage protects against age-related declines in happiness. In the study, “happiness” meant whatever the person who filled out the survey wanted it to mean. We qualified happiness in terms of individual satisfaction — the overall satisfaction one has with one’s own life.”
In other words, the study showed that married people are happier overall than they would have been if they had stayed single – by their own estimation. This isn’t dependent on how happy their marriage is; married life itself made them happier.
You should take a look at the interview for yourself. It really has an interesting take on the whole subject. The takeaway for me is that marriage is good for us and a happy marriage is even better.