Marriage in the Western World
Marriage based on love promises regular companionship, sexual gratification, a loving and enduring involvement, and parenting options—all within the security of a legitimized social institution. And on the whole, married people are happier and healthier, both physically and psychologically, than unmarried people (Pew Research Center, 2009a). Married men move up the career ladder faster and earn more money than single men (Elder, 2005). However, such benefits hold only for certain marriages. Individuals in distressed marriages are in poorer health than those in nondistressed marriages, as found by a national longitudinal survey. In fact, they have greater health risks than divorced individuals. Furthermore, the adverse health effects of a distressed marriage have a cumulative effect, increasing with time in the marriage and therefore greater at older ages (Umberson et al., 2006).