What Is The Point Of Marriage?

Written by on June 7, 2012 in Relationships - No comments | Print this page


Why bother getting married when the divorce rate for this country is so high?  Some feel like the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete.  Others say a piece of paper doesn’t signify how much someone loves their significant other.  So why bother?

Countless papers that I gleaned all have very similar conclusions.  Those who benefit from marriage the most are the children.  Health benefits and higher life expectancy are also seen in those who are married.  The caveat is that the union has to be a supportive and loving one.

Research shows that children who grow up in families with both their biological parents in low-conflict marriage are better off academically, physically, financially, and socially.  One of the fundamental necessities a child needs is stability and consistency.  If you keep your spouse happy, your children will also be happy.  Stable marriages produce happier children who also prosper academically and physically.  Yes, there are many factors involving how well-adjusted your children will be, but a good marriage has shown many times that it can give better tools for children to grow up on.

Financially, certain access to health insurance and tax advantages contribute to the increased likelihood of a child’s well-being.  Two working, committed parents can provide more resources in order for the child to thrive.    As for the social aspect, you are the first immediate role models they know.  They are sensitive to cues that you wouldn’t even consciously be aware that they are learning.  They learn by observation.  Gender roles, how to you treat others, and how to navigate through life with problem-solving skills, are all observed and developed by you, the parent.  I oftentimes hear someone say, “I learned how to treat my girlfriend/wife well because my father is really good to my mother.”

What about cohabitating parents instead of marriage?  “The average cohabitating union lasts about 2 years.  Children in cohabiting families are at a higher risk of poor outcomes compared to children of married parents partly because cohabiting families have fewer socioeconomic resources and partly because of unstable living situations” (Parke 2003).  It all comes down to commitment though.  If someone is willing to “make it official” and marry you, that is a high form of commitment.  Going through the whole motions of a wedding is a rite of passage in and of itself that you share with your other half.

Besides the benefits for children, John Gallacher of Cardiff University said that the happily married were more likely to eat healthily, have more friends and take better care of each other.  A study in seven countries show husbands and wives were 10-15% less likely to die prematurely than the rest of the population.

I may sound like the biggest proponent of marriage, but I also accept the fact that there are other unions that work.  It is not with absolute certainty that your child will grow up maladjusted just because you are a single parent or because you are living with the mother of your children and have no intentions of getting married.  A stable, committed relationship to each other and to your children trumps all.


About the Author

M. Yu

M. Yu is a single, working professional who lives in New York City. She has eclectic interests, ranging from cancer research (her day job) to traveling to writing for the Relationship Category on QLR. She has an active dating life and views every life experience as a learning lesson. View all posts about healthy relationships.