Is Cohabiting Better Than Marriage for Your Happiness?

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CohabitingDeciding to move in with your partner or walk down the aisle is a major financial decision … but it can also have major implications for your happiness. We’re thrilled to publish this interesting article from YouBeauty

Thinking of moving in with your partner but hearing an earful from your mother?

Meet your ammunition: A new study in the February issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family found that cohabitating couples are happier than married ones.

Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households, the researchers looked at wellbeing among 2,737 single men and women, 896 of whom married or moved in with a partner over a six-year period. (Singles weren’t always partner-less, just unmarried and living separately.)

Shortly after marrying or moving in together, couples were happier and showed fewer depressive symptoms than singles—but the benefits faded quickly. And single people kept closer ties with parents and friends, which can buffer mental health and lower stress.

Married couples’ health improved (possibly due to joint health insurance), but those who opted to live together in unwedded bliss experienced bigger boosts in happiness and self-esteem. “For some, cohabitation may come with fewer unwanted obligations than marriage and allow for more flexibility, autonomy and personal growth,” lead author and Cornell professor Kelly Musick, PhD, said in a statement.

While marriage certainly has its merits (tax breaks, public recognition, less incentive to shave), it isn’t the best option for everyone.

As more people forgo marriage or opt to have kids out of wedlock, Musick highlights the importance of considering the benefits of more diverse family structures. “These changes have blurred the boundaries of marriage, leading to questions about what difference marriage makes in comparison to alternatives,” she said. According to her research, it may not make much difference in wellbeing.

Of course, a six-year window at the beginning of a marriage or cohabitation is just a small slice of life and the benefits of each may change over time. Married couples may also be more likely to have children in that time period, which would temporarily lower their happiness (especially while they’re still waking up at 3 a.m. to change diapers).

But the key here is that couples can be just as happy with unconventional arrangements. “Our research shows that marriage is by no means unique in promoting wellbeing and that other forms of romantic relationships can provide many of the same benefits,” said Musick.

So if your mom’s biggest concern is that he’ll never put a ring on it, remind her that if you move in together without tying the knot, you may actually get a happier ending. (She does want you to be happy, right?)

More From YouBeauty

Are You Feeling Stressed?
The Health Benefits of Marriage
Gratitude Is Good for Your Health

More From LearnVest

Find out why one writer thinks that cohabitation will ruin your finances.
Should you sign a cohabitation agreement? Find out how it could protect you.
If you’re getting married, should you consider a prenup?

  • Particularp

    Why not be married and live as though your cohabitating?  Marriage shouldn’t be a prison sentence of unwanted rules and obligations. Instead it should be a partnership based on what you as a couple wants out of your relationship. This cookie-cutter marriage that has been around for far too long is unrealistic and unhealthy in my opinion. I chose to reap the tax and legal benefits of marriage while we both get what we want based on our rules. Our finances and lives are far better off for it.

  • W_Ying

    6. Marriage (Primary Symbiosis)

    Marriage is one of the most
    important parts of human primary symbiosis. 

    A. Origin

    Marriage was originated after
    biological evolution progressed from asexual propagation to sexual one. It is
    so because the sexual propagation can cope with all kinds of difficulties much
    easier than the asexual one.

    B. Definition

    Biologically speaking, marriage is one whole bio-entity or co-body
    consisting of a couple of husband and wife.

    This couple is integrated
    spiritually in order to keep both their DNA alive in their offspring’s body
    —- a better new carrier for keeping their DNA alive than both old individuals
    of the husband and wife.

    That is why a marriage couple sleeps
    in a bed and works as close together as possible.

    Also, this is where the kiss,
    embrace, and etc. come from.

    C. Properties

    Once married, any person of the
    couple ought never to cut the whole
    bio-entity or co-body into two parts with great suffering, that is, to
    divorce. 

    Divorce is caused by various kinds
    of invalid happiness, including extra-marital affair, invalid comparison, and
    etc. 

    Divorce not only hurts the couple
    individually, but also harms their offspring and even the society they live in.
    Hence, it is not only personal matter but also a social event close to crime to
    some degree. 

    D. Mechanism

    Marriage woks just as one whole
    spiritually inseparable biological machine made of two halves-parts.

    a. Husband

    The husband half is biologically
    assigned in charge of food-seeking, habitat constructing, defending, donating all
    kinds of co-body-safety messages ceaselessly to his wife (kissing, embracing,
    and so on) . 

    His ability and smartness come
    mainly from the ceaseless intimate encouragement of the other half of the
    marriage —- the wife.

    b. Wife

    The wife is biologically assigned in
    charge of the child bearing, child bring up, house hold, and etc.

    She transfers all the physical
    substantial materials from her own body into the baby’s. Also, she exhausts all
    her spiritual energy to bring up the baby or child —- the DNA-carrier of both
    the husband and wife.

    That is where her mother-greatness
    and beauty come from.

    Her beauty and virtue are support-enhanced
    by the ceaseless intimate co-body message from the other half of the marriage
    —- the husband.

    This is the right way that the
    husband and wife of a marriage work; and the right way that happy life of the
    couple comes from.

    Then, there will be no issue of
    gender equality at all.

    E. Caution

    Never a marriage should be misled by
    any kind of invalid happiness into invalid sufferings, including the most
    serious one —- the divorce mentioned above.

    To keep all kinds of the invalid
    happiness away is easy if a person just understands and believes in the life
    goal is to keep our DNA alive rather than anything else.

    Strictly speaking, this way or
    mechanism of marriage should be legislated formally. That is, to legislate
    against treating spouse not as the other half of the whole bio-entity or co-body,
    nothing to say about divorce which is very close to crime injuring our society.

     

     Life Goal

    Set my life goal,

    Far from the innate code,

    So I can never reach the goal,

    It gives me a nervous soul,

    My immune index gets low,

    My health down goes,

    How can I live old?

            

    Set my life goal,

    Close to the innate code,

    I easily reach the goal,

    It gives me a peaceful soul,

    My immune index is no low,

    My health up goes,

    I briskly live centuries old.

     

     

             Marriage

    For better keeping DNA alive,

    Symbiotic group is easy to survive.

    A couple of husband and wife,

    Make the strongest symbiotic life.

    The male
    leads food-seeking and defending,

    The female
    does propagation and educating.

    Anyone
    violates these biological rules,

    Must one’s self, offspring, and symbiotic group,

    Be in trouble for happy life to do.

     
    (From W. Ying, “Be Happy Validly!” p. 19-24, 2012)