Marriage - the best lifestyle choice
It's happening at last. What tens of thousands of New
Zealanders have known all along is gradually becoming plain to society at large
- the social revolution of the past 30 years has failed and the evidence is now
plain even to many of those who don't want to know.
So much so that the Weekend Life section of this newspaper
[the New Zealand Herald] devoted its entire front page and more last weekend to
marriage and the facts that married people are happier, healthier, safer, saner,
sexier, live longer and are better off financially than those who have chosen
any other lifestyle.
Which comes as no surprise to those of us who have watched as
the social revolution, which saw the steady devaluation and displacement of
marriage by a culture of divorce, cohabitation and unwed parenthood, wreak
devastating hardships on adults and children alike.
It has generated poverty within families, burdened society
with unsupportable social costs and failed to deliver on its promise of greater
adult happiness and better relationships between men and women.
In 1988 social researcher and commentator Bruce Logan
described the failure of the social experiment succinctly. In a report called
Marriage, Do We Need It? he wrote: "The failures have been unanticipated
and unintended. The revolution set out to achieve some worthy social goals: To
foster greater equality between men and women; to improve the family lives of
women; and to expand individual happiness and choice ...
"We have not come closer to these goals. Indeed we are
at a greater distance from them. Relationships between men and women are not
getting better; by any measure they are getting worse. They are becoming more
difficult, fragile and unhappy.
"Too many women are experiencing chronic economic
insecurity. Too many men are isolated and estranged from their children. Too
many people are lonely and unconnected. Too many children are angry, sad and
And that was written five years ago. Since then, the
situation has deteriorated even further until today the breakdown of marriage
has created social problems that have become almost insurmountable.
But it could be that the tide is turning at last, that more
and more people are coming to see that the foundation of any society is marriage
and the natural family, which grows from that lifetime commitment of a man and a
woman to each other and their offspring.
Let's hope so, for as I said last week, the strong natural
family is the bulwark against which all our social ills are powerless.
But for those who remain unconvinced - and their number will
be legion - let's take a look at 10 good reasons marriage works, as enumerated
by American writer Maggie Gallagher from the mountain of empirical evidence she
accumulated for a new book, The Case for Marriage.
(1) It's safer: Marriage lowers the risk that both men and
women will become the victims of violence, including domestic violence.
(2) It can save your life: Married people live longer and
healthier lives and the power of marriage is particularly evident in late middle
age. Nine out of 10 married men and women alive at 48 will make it to 65 against
six out of 10 unmarried men and eight out of 10 unmarried women.
(3) It can save your child's life: Children lead healthier,
longer lives and tend to stay out of trouble if parents get and stay married.
(4) You will earn more: Men today tend to think of marriage
as a consumption item but a vast body of scientific literature suggests that for
men especially marriage is productive - as important as education in boosting
(5) You'll be richer: Married people not only make more
money, they manage money better and build more wealth together than either would
(6) You'll tame him/her: Marriage increases sexual fidelity.
Cohabiting men are four times more likely to cheat than husbands and cohabiting
women eight times more likely to cheat than wives.
(7) You'll stay sane: Marriage is good for mental health.
Married men and women are less depressed, less anxious and less psychologically
distressed than singles, the divorced or widowed.
(8) It will make you happy: Overall, 40 per cent of married
people, compared with about 25 per cent of singles or cohabitors, say they are
"very happy" with life in general.
(9) Your children will love you more: Adult children of
intact marriages keep more regular contact with their parents than do those of
divorced or cohabiting couples. And they are far more likely themselves to marry
(10) You'll have better sex, more often: Despite the lurid
Sex in the City marketing that promises singles erotic joys untold, both
husbands and wives are more likely to report that they have an extremely
satisfying sex life than are singles or cohabitors.
So what's to be done? Bruce Logan: "It is time to change
course. It is time to shift the focus of national attention back to marriage. It
is time to rebuild a family culture based on enduring marital
relationships." Simple, isn't it?
The New Zealand Herald, used by permission.