Accepted wisdom says that marriage provides a financial boost (especially for women), and that children of married parents get a better start in life. But some recent studies say the picture isn’t so clear. Are there real advantages to marriage, or are we just collectively kidding ourselves?
While anyone who is married could tell you it isn’t all steak dinners and roses, marriage has gotten a surprisingly bad rap lately. The rate of marriage is at it’s lowest in 150 years for a number of reasons, but there are still many advantages to tying the knot. If you’re thinking about making the walk down the aisle (or into city hall), you may be interested to learn about these surprising benefits to being married.
Fewer and fewer men are looking to get married these days. The Pew Research Institute recently found that the number of men ages 18 to 34. Saying that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things dropped from 35 percent to 29 percent since 1997. The number of young adult women saying the same thing has risen from 28 percent to 37 percent in the same time. This statistic made me wonder why so many guys out there are saying they don’t want to get married.
Pros Of Marriage
Joint health insurance: If one of you has a great health insurance policy through an employer and the other doesn’t getting married might be the easiest way to ensure both of you are covered. Not all employers allow adding a domestic partner to your health insurance policy.
Another reason why many people choose to get married is for financial reasons. This means that if you want to make sure that your finances are in order and that the other person that you care about has access to your finances and insurance, it might be a good idea to consider being married. The only real way that you will be able to be financially secure as a couple and have rights is to be legally married. This means that becoming legally married is a great way to protect one another as a couple especially if you do have children.
Marriage promises and helps deliver a happy sex life. Partners can get to know and fulfil each others’ desires in a trusting long-term relationship. Monogamy also reduces health risks such as sexually transmitted diseases.
If any issues ever arise over the paternity of a child with a married couple, the married couple may have less of an issue. “If a child is born in New York state to a married couple, there’s virtually no issue of paternity,” Mitchell says.
A bigger home: Assuming both you and your future spouse are employed, applying for a mortgage together will increase your chance of getting approved for a larger amount (and, consequently, enable you to buy a bigger home). Of course, bigger won’t necessarily be better if you overextend yourselves. The same applies to renting a home: your landlord will take both incomes into consideration, but make sure you’re not spending more than you can afford.
A study at the University of Chicago suggested that married people — and people in long-term, committed relationships — have less dramatic responses to psychological stress. In the study, participants were asked to play a computer game they believed had high stakes for their academic careers. Their saliva was tested for the stress hormone cortisol before and after playing. “We found that unpaired individuals of both sexes had higher cortisol levels than married individuals,” said one researcher.
Children living with married parents exhibit better outcomes than those living in other household situations, including cohabiting parents. These results hold true regardless of the parents’ genders. According to Princeton-Brookings’ The Future of Children Report, “The social science consensus is clear: children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well as children raised by opposite-sex parents.” The report also finds that same-sex parents have a similar divorce rate to opposite-sex parents.
Lower expenses: There’s an old saying: “Two can live as cheaply as one.” Well, that’s both true and false. There are efficiencies in consolidating households—one rent, one set of utility bills—and the benefits are increased if a couple has children. However, cohabiting confers the same household expense benefits whether a couple marries or not.
If you love being married, good news: being married may also help you live longer. Living with a partner lowered the mortality rate for men by 80 percent and for women by 59 percent, according to researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Cincinnati. Lead researcher Hui Liu said that marriage had an even more dramatic effect on longevity than simply living with a partner. “Many assume marriage and cohabitation are wholly the same, but our research showed that cohabitation, generally, led to a shorter lifespan,” she said.
One of the things that makes life so meaningful and enjoyable is having someone to share it with. When you get married you have a life partner that you always have by your side. This can make life so much more fulfilling and give you the security that you need to get through how crazy and unpredictable life can be. Marriage is supposed to keep you unified with another person in a way that is unique and sacred. This means that if you want to always have someone by your side that you can depend on, it might be a good idea to consider marriage. The fact that you are entering into a commitment to live with and love the person of your choice for the rest of your life. Throughout all the challenges that life offers, a dedicated lover will be there for you. In marriage, you do not have to face anything alone; you are considered a unit by family, friends and the law.
The opportunity to be part of a family is one of the most basic benefits marriage offers. Although single men and women can have a family, marriage offers the easiest way to start and maintain a family. Furthermore, two parents who are both involved in the life of a child mean a balanced upbringing for the child and less stress on either parent.
Death benefits: The IRS generally does not tax spousal inheritance, except in the case of the very wealthy. Further, you might receive benefits such as Social Security and pension, which are generally not available to unmarried couples.
Disadvantages of marriage
Other than being able to go out every night without answering to anyone, staying single has financial benefits, just like getting married.
Control: While married couples don’t have to merge their finances, many do – and then regret it, should the marriage turn into a divorce statistic. Single individuals, or even couples who live together without being married, generally have and retain full control of their financial and credit lives.
Career focus: When you get married, the marriage becomes the primary focus of your life – especially once children come into the picture. Staying single, even when you’re dating seriously or cohabitating, allows you a little more leeway to concentrate on your professional life.
Some potentially serious financial problems arise when you walk down the aisle. Considering the ramifications before you get married is essential for planning the best financial future for you and your spouse.
Though we’re making historic strides in this department every single day, we’re not there yet and that’s a problem. As Sarah Wright, of Unmarried Equality, puts it: “We take issue with an institutional system of benefits, rights and privileges that ignores and excludes other patterns of family formation, caregiving, property ownership, and living arrangements.” Right on. The fact that in many states, common-law partners are still considered invalid, and that loved ones can’t be at each other’s bedsides, or receive the legal rights of a family member, are all big points against the current institution of marriage. Regardless of your personal sexual orientation, it’s hard to be ecstatic about a concept that has historically banned a portion of the population from partaking in it.
If you come from a wealthy family and commingle funds – even if you think the marriage is solid and don’t want to think about it possibly breaking up in the future, 50 percent of marriage end in divorce. It is important even without a prenup to keep assets that are trust assets or inherited assets separate. If you do divorce, anything that was kept in your name and not used for marital expenses will remain in your name.
Dealing with in-laws is a dreaded aspects of marriage for some people. Although some people have wonderful relationships with their spouse’s family, others do not enjoy spending time with their in-laws. Whatever the case, in-laws are always going to be in the picture, so not having a good relationship with them will make a marriage difficult.
Even though there are benefits to getting married, there are a few downsides that you need to know about. The thing about marriage that you need to know to go in is that most marriages do not last. This means that over half of marriages do end in divorce. Even though you go into marriage thinking that it will last forever, this is not always the case. Many couples get stuck in a rut, repeating the same arguments over and over. The key differences in their personalities never go away. Petty problems, irritating habits, become magnified over time.
Money management: If partner has trouble managing money wisely, trouble can ensue for both. In this case being married with separate finances might be a wise decision.
The marriage penalty: Simply put, because one spouse’s income will be tacked on top of the other for tax purposes, their whole income will fall within higher tax brackets compared with each of you filing single. However, higher deduction limits largely offset the marriage penalty, so it shouldn’t be a major concern. If in doubt, you can always discuss the details with an accountant or run joint vs single filing scenarios through your tax preparation software.
Liability: Financial judgments on joint accounts affect both spouses. If your partner goes bankrupt or doesn’t pay bills on joint accounts, you can be held financially liable.