COUPLES WHO COHABITATE ARE HAPPIER THAN MARRIEDS
We’ve heard that married people are happier, but according to a new study, that might be a bunch of hooey.
In terms of health, self-esteem, and psychological well-being, marriage offers little benefit over simply living together without wedding rings, the study found.
"Being in a romantic relationship, irrespective of the legal form, does provide some benefits," says study researcher Joseph Lowry, an associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology. "We just can’t say what exactly."
The findings also suggest that cohabitation was the better option over marriage. Study participants agree.
"Simply living together offers all the positives without any of the negatives," says Justin Elders, 29, who has cohabitated with his girlfriend Leslie for the past two years. "I get regular sex, someone to do the dishes, and never have to meet her parents."
Kari Inger, 25, echoes a similar sentiment. “I’ve been living with Tom for almost a year, but I know that anytime I get bored with him or find someone richer, I’m gone in a matter of hours without a messy divorce.”
"It’s great being in a committed relationship," says Laina Wilkes, 31, who has lived with her boyfriend Derek for over three years. "But it’s especially great because that commitment is on my terms. As soon as Derek gets fat from drinking all his stupid ‘craft’ beer and laying on his ass watching sports, I can pack my bags and go. I’m free to find someone better, someone who maybe does a fucking sit-up once in awhile."
Many previous studies looking at the benefits of marriage have focused on comparing married couples with single people, which, according to Lowry, is invalid due to the fact that single people are as miserable as people in relationships. “They’re just more honest about it. Humans are hardwired to think that whatever their life is like at the moment sucks hairy hog balls. It’s the grass is always greener syndrome. Single people want to be married, married people want to be single.”
Eric Rodriguez, 40, who will be celebrating his fifteenth wedding anniversary this June, agrees. “It’s gotten to the point where I fantasize about having my own apartment. The wife’ll come home and explode at me because of all the jizz on the classifieds, screaming ‘How am I gonna find the yard sales now?! How am I gonna find the yard sales now?!’ It’s a total nightmare. Please, for the love of God, shoot me in the face.”
In general, people who are married claim to be happier than when they were single or just living together, but that’s only because their spouses are in the room “If you take them aside,” said Lowry, “their eyes fill with tears and they beg for rescue.”
The researchers emphasized that that they are not saying that marriage is irrelevant. “That would be controversial and likely to anger all the people who have been raised on Disney and romantic comedies. But, yeah, marriage is irrelevant.”
The study is published in this months’s issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.
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