Marriage Really Matters

One of the most certain ways to improve the health and well-being of the world’s population is to encourage and support the idea of marriage. … Research continually reveals that married people are generally physically healthier, happier, live longer, enjoy better mental health, are more fulfilled and less likely to suffer physical abuse. Premarital cohabitation (living together as a family outside of legal marriage) does not bring the same benefits marriage does. Instead, it brings increased conflict and aggression as well as increased chance of divorce in later marriages.

Dr. Robert H. Coombs, professor of Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), conducted a review of more than 130 published empirical studies measuring how marital status affects personal well-being. He concluded that scientific investigations, conducted from the 1930s to the present, “attest that married people live longer and generally are more emotionally and physically healthy than the unmarried.” Coombs specifically looked at the areas of alcoholism, suicide, morbidity and mortality, mental illness and self-reports of happiness.

    • Alcoholism. According to Coombs, “studies consistently found more alcoholism and problem drinking among the unmarried than the married.” Specifically, the separated and divorced account for 70 percent of all chronic problem drinkers, while married people account for only 15 percent. Single men are over three times more likely to die of cirrhosis of the liver than married men. This is because the married “are more satisfied than the unmarrieds” Coombs explains.
    • Suicide. Coombs’ literature review revealed, “empirical support extending back to the 19th century shows that the highest suicide rates occur among the divorced, the widowed, and the never married and lowest among the married.” The intact family creates a cohesive, integrating effect on its members, which serves as a strong deterrent to suicidal tendencies.
    • Morbidity and mortality. It was also consistently found that “married people enjoy greater longevity than the unmarried and generally make less use of health care services.” Coombs found that cures from cancer were 8-17 percent more likely for the married, and they also spend fewer days in bed due to acute illness. Surprisingly, it is not just companionship that makes the difference; it’s the presence of a marriage license. Research done at the University of California at San Francisco found that those “who lived alone or with someone other than a spouse had significantly shorter survival times compared with those living with a spouse … the critical factor for survival was the presence of a spouse.”
    • Psychiatric problems. Coombs found that the married suffered from schizophrenia less often than the unmarried and when they did, their recovery was more successful. The lowest rates for mental hospital admissions were consistently found among the married and the “separated and the divorced of both sexes experience particularly high mental health risks.” Additional studies done jointly at Yale University and UCLA found the “association between marital status and mental illness is robust and generalizable” among both African-American and white populations.
    • Self-reported happiness. Looking at self-reported happiness is an important indicator. It allows the scientist to evaluate the individual’s measure of their own situation, regardless of how others may measure it. Coombs found that “no part of the unmarried population — separated, divorced, widowed, or never married — describes itself as being so happy and contented with life as the married.”
    • Better Sex. About 40% of married people have sex twice a week, compared to 20-25% of single and cohabitating men and women. Over 40% of married women said their sex life was emotionally and physically satisfying, compared to about 30% of single women. For men, it’s 50% of married men are physically and emotionally contents versus 38% of cohabitating men.


While marriage offers important benefits that no other relational status can match, it is cohabitation which has increased 533 percent since 1970, and the number of married adults has decreased 10 percent over the same period in the United States. It is troubling that the most beneficial form of family life is decreasing in frequency while one of the most harmful forms is rapidly increasing.

Your marriage matters! The world needs to witness more marriages that are truly working. We can’t rely on the entertainment industry to show us, or the government to define us. We need to be deliberate in our approach to marriage and to our approach to passing on what we have learned (the easy way and the hard way) to other, younger married couples. The world desperately needs to see what God intended for marriage when He created it.

Become a mentor couple,


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