A recent study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies has found that getting married has a big impact on a couple’s long-term happiness. Economists John Halliwell and Shawn Grover analyzed the findings of two longitudinal studies to answer the questions of whether the happiness after marriage is short-lived; whether it’s marriage itself that causes happiness; or whether happy people were the ones more likely to get and stay married in the first place.
The pair first looked at data from a British Institute survey of 30,000 people over an 18-year period. People of varying ages were asked the same questions from 1991 to 2009 about their lifestyles and moods, allowing researchers to gather information on their levels of happiness before and after marriage. Halliwell and Grover then looked at data from a much bigger UK survey of 300,000 people between 2011 and 2013 related to anxieties, social lives, and happiness.
It turns out, the happiness effect of marriage is far from short-lived. Married people are 10 percent more satisfied than single people. Cohabitating couples are only 75 percent as happy as marrieds. They also found that marriage appears to be of the greatest importance in middle age, when many people experience diminished well-being.
The quality of the marriage has a big part to play. The foundation of a married couple’s happiness appears to be the bond they share and, say the researchers, those who cited their spouse as their best friend experienced twice as much happiness as those who didn’t.