“The relationship of marriage to happiness is simple as can be. There’s hardly anything better than a good marriage for promoting happiness and nothing worse than a bad one,” states Charles Murray, author of Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960 – 2010. (Page 256)
He adds, “Even without asking whether the marriage itself is happy, marriage is still a good bet for achieving happiness.
Who’s “very happy?”
GSS Surveys from 1990 to 2010 asked people in different marital statuses, “How happy are you?” They were given the choice of answering “not too happy,” “pretty happy,”, and “very happy.” Here are the percentages for each status listed below who answered, “very happy:
SELF REPORTED HAPPINESS AND MARITAL STATUS
Currently married: 40%
Cohabiting with a partner: 29%;
With a partner but not cohabiting: 22%
Never married: 9%.
These figures are shown on a bar graph (Page 257). Murray notes that the number of “very happy ” cohabiting people is artificially high because the pool of cohabiting folks is drained of unhappy potential respondents much more quickly than the pool of married people; it is easier to end an unhappy cohabitation than to end an unhappy marriage.
Murray reports more about the survey’s results:
58% of GSS respondents who said they were in very happy marriages also said their lives were very happy, compared to 10 % who said their marriages were “pretty happy,” and 8% who said their marriages were “not too happy.”
Conclusion: Marriage offers more potential for a happy life than any form of singlehood.