Are Married People Happier or Healthier Than Those Who Choose to Remain Single?
Bella DePaulo, one time visiting Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, writes this contribution to the New York Times, May, 26, 2017. Entitled, “Get Married, Get Healthy? Maybe Not” exposes the mythology behind the belief in marriage. It also raises the question about the benefits of marriage versus being a single, and why Marriage Counseling is nowadays growing so rapidly?
She cites a 16-year Swiss survey of 11,000 adults which showed that “People who married reported slightly worse health than they had when they were single. Over time, their health did not improve — it tended to deteriorate, even after taking into account changes in health as people age.“ She adds, “Because of its size, duration and methodological sophistication, the new study is perhaps the most definitive research ever conducted on the health implications of marriage.”
She also refers to a review of 18 studies published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2012 which concluded that “well-being does not typically improve when people marry. At best, newlyweds enjoy a brief ‘honeymoon effect’ in which they feel a bit more satisfied with their lives at first, but then their satisfaction declines, and they end up feeling as satisfied or dissatisfied as they were when they were single.”
DePaulo’s summary of findings is as follows:
“The way we think about marriage adds up to an ideology, a worldview in which we have become deeply invested.
What is on offer is nearly irresistible: Find that one special person, marry him or her and you will have someone who loves you and cares for you for the rest of your life. You will have the most important adult relationship, the one everyone wants. Because you have it, you will be happier and healthier than you were when you were single — and morally superior, too.
Now that we know that’s just not so, maybe we should celebrate our newfound wisdom.
Today nearly as many adults are not married as married. Those who do marry are taking longer than ever to get there, and on average Americans spend more years of their adult lives unmarried than married.
The new and accumulating research suggests something heartening: People who are single are doing much better than we realized. Marriage is unlikely to bring lasting improvements to their health or well-being, and could even result in decrements.
Free of the myth that marriage is a magical potion, we can all pursue the life paths that suit us best. Marriage is still there for those who want it. But now people who prefer to live single can come out of the shadows. The possibilities for meaning and fulfillment in a single life have gone largely unrecognized. It is time for that to change.”
No need for Marriage Counseling
“Marriage is one of the ugliest institutions man has invented. But it has been invented with deep concern, goodwill. I do not suspect the goodwill, I only suspect people’s wisdom. Their intention is right, but their intelligence is very mediocre. If with their good intention they also had intelligence, then they would have made every possible way for the child to know about love, about their love, their anxieties, their problems, their failures, their despairs. They would have made him aware that, ‘These things are there, and sooner or later, one day you will be caught by the whirlwind of love. It is natural. Don’t be afraid. But remember, what poets say is not true.’
Love is not something permanent, eternal. Don’t take their criterion, that the true love is eternal, and untrue love is momentary – no!
Just the opposite is the case. The true love is very momentary – but what a moment – such that one can lose the whole of eternity for it, can risk the whole of eternity for it.
“Who wants that moment to be permanent? And why should permanency be valued so much? – because life is change, flow; only death is permanent. Only in death the watch stops and remains where it has stopped. Then it does not move. But in life it goes on moving, and moving into new paths every day.
“And why be confined to one love? Why force yourself to be confined to one love? Because nature does not intend it so”.
“When you force yourself against what nature intends you to do you feel resistance, unhappiness, then the therapy or marriage counseling is needed, but…
Nature intends you to know love in as many ways as possible, because what you can know from one woman you cannot know from another woman. What you can know and experience through one man will not be experienced through another man. Each love is unique.
“There is no competition. There is no quarrel. And the more you love, the more enriched your being is.
“So I am for all the trouble, the anguish, the anxiety, the despair. Only one thing I want to add: be intelligent. These troubles are not because love has gone, these are because you are idiotic. So if you have to leave something, leave your idiocy. But people leave loving, and cling to their idiotic mind.
“Be intelligent, and then love will give you all the colors of the rainbow, and you will be fulfilled by many people, in many ways, because a woman will touch one aspect of your being, and other aspects will remain hungry, starved. One man may touch one part of your heart, but other parts will remain without growth. If you cling, then one part becomes a monster and all other parts shrink.
If I’m allowed to give my advice to the world, my advice will be: Help people to experience as much love as possible.”
“Nature intends you to know love in as many ways as possible and makes the institution of marriage counseling obsolete. As the more you love, the more enriched your being is.”
To continue reading and see all available formats of this talk:
Osho, From Unconsciousness to Consciousness, Talk #18 – Marriage: The Coffin of Love