Say "I Do"
By Raymond Shipley
Marriage is, likely, the most important relationship in a person's life. It is the core of the family, the source of great happiness, and adds extra years to life. But what is important about marriage and what is this special dynamic that produces such happiness?
According to Robin Simon, sociology professor and researcher at Wake Forest University, "Married people overall do better on virtually every indicator of health and well-being...Even when they get sick, married people are more likely to recover." Intimacy, trust and commitment form one component of the four resources experts cite as marriage's inherent boost to happiness and well-being. We, as humans, need this sort of unquestionable trust and commitment from another, along with a private intimacy, in order to feel complete.
There are many other advantages to being married, such as tax and health-plan benefits. Married couples enjoy legal protections not afforded to people not engaged in the same level of commitment. And statistics show married couples often live longer partly due to living healthier lives.
Social roles give husbands and wives a stronger sense of their own identities and assist in dividing activities, such as domestic, family, community and relaxation time, which in turn allows more efficient use of time and relieves stress. Likewise, the social support spouses provide expands the richness and reach of the couple's social connections.
The Most Important Benefit
The most important benefit to marriage is the affects it has on our children. It has been shown that married couples overwhelmingly have a more positive affect on the upbringing of children than any other arrangement. This has been gone into more depth in other articles, but it is too important not to mention again here.
The divorce rate in the US has been steadily declining; however, marriage and other intimate relationships seem to have a survival rate of around 60%, according to Andrew Cherlin, professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University. "The state of marriage is that it's going in two directions," he says. "For people with a college degree, marriage is still going strong...for people with less education, there's less marriage, more break-ups, more children born out of marriage, and more stress." Due to the affects on childrens' lives this clearly helps in perpetuating lower class demographics in their staying there.
In addition to education and status, another predictor of successful marriages is the quality of a couple's childhood relationship with their parents. "The kind of relationships you have with your parents growing up are predictive of marital quality in adulthood," says Debra J. Umberson, a sociology professor and researcher at the University of Texas. Moreover, they're "predictive of the quality of all relationships in general." It cannot be stressed enough how important both marriage and parenting is to oneself and society as a whole.
Beyond The Self
There are many movements that attempt to negate the importance of marriage and family in the lives of free, independent people. But any and all arguments to their credit are based solely on an egocentric world-view that is simply not conducive to contributing to anything except oneself. Marriage and family have been the basis of society for thousands of years, and should remain so. A sign of being an adult is to see the world beyond the self, and this is no better reflected than in family.