A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Does Marriage Make Men Happier and Healthier?

You've seen all the statistics on how married men are happier than single men. You might think that marriage is the cure for the single man's depression. And you would be wrong. As this linked article points out, marriage does not have much of an affect on the state of mind that you already had. So what are we to make of all those unhappy single men out there? I suspect a lot of those studies about unhappy single men demonstrate a self-selection bias. Single men tell themselves they can't have a life without a woman and therefore they believe their own tale. Q.E.D. What tale are you going to tell yourselves, gentlemen?

As for marriage making men healthier, I've covered that matter before. However, I found another piece on this matter that was worth a read. The last part of the article suffers from a bit of kneejerk leftism (the part about accepting the lifestyles of gay and lesbian friends), but other than that, it serves as a good sledgehammer against the stereotype that single men are creepy, porn-addicted losers with anti-social proclivities.

34 comments:

Ken said...

Thanks. I will check everything out.

Just off the top of my head...

It may also be that "happy" men attract more prospects for a wife. In other words, it isn't marriage that made these men happy... it is more like thet are married, in part, because they were already happy.

Also, how do we know that someone wouldn't have increased their happiness in life just the same if they hadn't married?

People should not make the mistake of thinking that, if they are an unhappy person, marriage will make them happy. That's a recipe for disaster.

One last thought for now... these things can often be a matter of perspective. The married man who has always enjoyed alone time or guy time probably got a lot more of those things when he was unmarried. But because he gets those things less frequently once married, when he does get them, he is very happy. "Hey, thanks, honey, for letting me go watch the game with the guys." He's happy his wife is "letting" him do that. When he was unmarried, it wouldn't have been a question... he would have had the guy time, and he wouldn't have had to get "permission" for it in the first place.

Amir Larijani said...

I'm in a twisted mood, so heregoes...

(1) If I die, I go to heaven.
(2) If I go to heaven, I'm happy forever.
(3) If I get married, I die sooner.

So, if I get married, I get to heaven sooner, and therefore will reach ultimate happiness sooner.

There you have it...marriage makes for expedient happiness.

Somehow, I don't think the Nuptial Nazis had that line of reasoning in mind...

TMink said...

Good one Amir!

I wish I could find the original study as I want to see if they controled for whether or not the marriage was happy.

I have been married twice, this time for keeps, and the blessings of a happy marriage to a wonderful Christian woman are huge in my life. Not only am I happier, but my blood pressure went down 12 points.

OK, I am just one data point, but for the cited study to be strong they would have had to control for marital satisfaction.

As the Good Book says: Proverbs 25:24 (Amplified Bible)
24It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than to share a house with a disagreeing, quarrelsome, and scolding woman.

Trey

Learner said...

Remember that movie "Cool Runnings" about the Jamacian (spelling?)Olympic bobsled team? I the movie the coach, played by John Candy, told one of the bobsled guys something like- you will still be the same person with the gold medal that you are without a gold medal. If you are not happy now it will not make you happy.

It seems to me that this is true in many areas of life including marriage. If you are not happy (or responsible, or considerate, or respectful etc) as a single person (man or woman), getting married is not going to make you a happy (or any other way) person.

slwerner said...

I’d agree with the pother posters who made that point that the only men who will be happily married are those who are already happy. Marriage allows happy men and women to share their happiness with one another.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be – used to be.

Having been happily married to my equally happy wife for 25 years, it’s certainly something I would wish for others to have the chance to experience.

Yet, even happy young men, who believe that they’ve found a woman they could be happy with, may no longer be able to be happily married. As an example, I’d point to the remarks of these two young men discussing their relationships with women whom it would seem that they ought to be able to become happily married to:

http://glennsacks.com/blog/?p=3677&cp=1#comment-862071 - ”It seems I'm about to embark on what could be a good relationship with a girl…”& http://glennsacks.com/blog/?p=3677&cp=1#comment-862082 - ”I have an awesome 20-yr old gf who wants to get married…”

It’s clear that they yearn to be with these women, but they are hesitant due to the concerns that men are coming to realize that they MUST have regarding marriage:

- ” It seems like she has a lot of the same values as me, but after I've educated myself over the last few years as to how marriage & divorce truely work in the U.S., I don't think I can ever get married no matter how great a woman I meet. &

- ” Problem is: I also have a house, a business which I built myself, a clean criminal record and a nice income... all things that I don't want to lose by getting married and divorced. I can't imagine getting married and living each day in fear of losing everything I worked so hard to achieve; this is no way to live, it's like being in an abusive relationship!”

Much as I would like to encourage these two young men to follow their hearts, and take a chance on what could be the greatest joy in their lives, I realize that they are wise to follow their brains instead. Same goes for my own teenage son.

As great a joy a marriage can be, the collapse of that relationship can be every bit as great a heartache – and with the weight of the laws and courts stacked against them, that heartache is compounded by the insult and injustice that will likely be done them.

A short time back, novaseeker posed the question of what ought become of marriage (http://novaseeker.blogspot.com/2009/04/purpose-of-marriage.html).

I found that I had no answer.

I’d like to see the return of “traditional marriage”, as has made me, and so many other men I know such profound happiness. Still, I know that the ideals “pushed” by feminism have become so entrenched in the minds of the women (and men) of our culture that they will not give up the advantages that the feminists have won for them – no fault divorce, child-alimony, half(+) of all marital assets regardless of unequal contribution either before or during. They’ll surely never let go the very advantages give to them that make divorce so attractive to them.

And, as brought up in an earlier post, ” Cultural conservatives and the religious establishment do not care about men.”Once they both encouraged and supported men, serving to under-gird marriage. Now, they seem only to “bully” men to marry, then willfully abandon them to fates which they knew full well might await them.

Sadly, it seems we can count marital happiness amongst those things that we, as a society, have all lost to feminism.

So, does marriage make men happier and healthier? Not any more.

Gary said...

In the scriptures, GOD said that, "It is not good the man should be alone." A partner is a "good" thing for a man in GOD's mind.

Do "good" thinks always make us happy? No. The only "good" thing that we can find our complete happiness/joy/satisfaction in is the person of GOD himself, not finite, sinful humans.

Marriage is about GOD (Christ and His Church), not about us.

Amir Larijani said...

Gary: This is true.

On the other hand, it is right to contest the Nuptial Nazis--who promote marriage as if it's the cure for everything from loneliness and sex addiction to aging, and who are always telling us that married men are happier and more satisfied than singles.

I'm all for marriage, although I am not in the Mandator camp.

Realistically, anyone who marries needs to understand that his (her) mate is going to be inclined to the same lures, lusts, and other matters of self interest that call to him (her).

Christians need to go in with a realistic set of expectations and a clear understanding of Biblical responsibilities, keeping in mind that, while marriage is a good thing, it is also marred and damaged by human depravity.

It will not "cure" things that ail you now. It can be helpful if both parties understand and embrace their respective roles and responsibilities.

As for the PT article, Christians should also keep in mind that the study was in fact a secular one and did not survey Christian couples who regularly attend church.

This is not to say that there are no unhappy marriages in that bracket--there are, and we all know of such cases personally--but I would wager that the landscape is better on that front.

TMink said...

Good post Amir, I also think that the implication of the common "wisdom" about marriage making men happier is that it makes them better. It hooks up a bad man with a good woman. That is the myth behind some of the matrimony nazis I think.

Trey

catwoman said...

I attended a lecture of Ed Deiner's, the happiness researcher referenced in the article. He said that happiness has a large genetic component to it (as much as 50-55%, if I recall correctly). He admits his work relies mostly on self-report measures, without much of the indirect indicators of happiness vs. unhappiness (ie. substance abuse and other distracting behavior problems).

Curiepoint said...

Personally, I believe marriage bestows happiness in the same manner that a pre-frontal lobotomy does.

Anonymous said...

Marriage? No thanks. I'd rather fornicate.

You can repress and mould your sexual urges(and even your choice of a marriage partner) according to religious dogma all you want, or praise marriage as a holy institution from God.

Yoke with a fellow believer and produce more offspring to send to Sunday school, or endure the 'gift of celibacy', taking pride in not defiling the 'temple of the Holy Spirit' with 'strange women' despite the many temptations. Mortify the flesh!

This is a fool's game. I refuse to play it any longer. For an ambiguous assurance of salvation in the illusive afterlife, you don't have to pay that heavy a price.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

This is a fool's game. I refuse to play it any longer. For an ambiguous assurance of salvation in the illusive afterlife, you don't have to pay that heavy a price.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

I beg to differ. True repentance is a complete surrender of everything to Christ, both in our thinking and in our actions.

God Bless,
Adam

Jeff said...

Hi Anakin,

I was wondering what your thoughts are on men as "initiators". I think most guys (myself included) prefer to initiate a relationship with a woman.

However, my most recent GF (whom I asked out) consistently was upset that I was not being an "initiator" as much as I should in the relationship. This of course drove me absolutely crazy because I was trying very hard to put maximum effort into our relationship.

I'm not entirely sure what she meant, but I think she felt that I should plan all or most of our dates (which I tried to do, but not to her satisfaction), be the one starting all important conversations about where the relationship was headed, etc.

This could make for a good blog post for you or Amir. I would love to hear your thoughts on this...

Anakin Niceguy said...

Jeff,

Here's something I wrote that touches upon your question ...

(CLICK HERE)

TMink said...

Anon wrote: "I'd rather fornicate."

Well of course you would! Like me, you are a sinner bound for hell unless rescued by accepting Jesus. You would rather lie, cheat, and steal your way through life because it seems easier and those kinds of choices will allow you to stay in charge of your life. The alternative is the work of admitting that you are a sinner and incompetent to make decisions which please God.

Then you have to give up things that you think are key to your pleasure and happiness. It seems stupid from the outside.

But having done and still doing those things, I am blessed with peace and a loving family! And I will spend eternity with God. All beacause of what Jesus did for me.

That is true wisdom Anon.

Trey

Peter said...

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes - "A man doesn't know what happiness is until he gets married. By then it's too late".

catwoman said...

TMink,

You're new here and seem pretty enthusiastic about this blog called "Biblical Manhood". In case you haven't figured out already, it's kind of a misnomer because it really is more of a sounding board for guys who, for different reasons, feel the need to trash women.

If you want a sense of this blog's true misogynistic character, look through its archives, particularly under the category of "Faith and Culture". You will find that Anakin has pretty much nothing positive to say about women as a sex, secular or believing. Much of his criticism is level at feminism, which I agree, needs ongoing critique. Problem is that almost every woman today falls into the category of "feminist" in Anakin's world.

His sentiments, and those of his regulars, can basically be summed up in this statement he made on another blog:

"Christian women are heartily invited to disabuse me of the picture I paint, though. I’ve been waiting for several years now."

Just thought you might like to know something about the company you'd be keeping.

slwerner said...

catwoman - ” TMink,

You're new here and seem pretty enthusiastic about this blog called "Biblical Manhood". In case you haven't figured out already, it's kind of a misnomer because it really is more of a sounding board for guys who, for different reasons, feel the need to trash women.”



Then, perhaps Trey’s enthusiastic view is exactly what needs to be interested.

And, had you ever considered that what you deem “trashing women”, may simply be an attempt to “call-out” women of good character to (finally) take a stand and either join in the calls for true gender-equity – or explain why they will not?

I can tell you that I have previously had just such an intention in addressing you. I assume you took it as nothing but mean-spirited “trashing”?

Perhaps I lack the eloquence to adequately convey my thoughts, but I can assure you that I (for one) do not hold all woman in contempt. I’ve been married to a wonderful and very smart woman for 25 years. I value her opinions, and respect her differing opinions.

In the blogosphere, I’m much the same way towards other women. We may agree, or disagree, but I always prefer to engage them in discourse – even though it may seem a bit unpleasant and challenging at times.

You’re no shrinking violet. You’re obviously an intelligent women, who does her own investigating to come to her own conclusions. That is something I value and admire.

Of course, the flip-side is that I would also hold you to higher expectations in your arguments. Given the abilities you’ve demonstrated, I believe well fleshed-out positions can be expected from you?

In my own opinion, one of the most appealing aspects of the discourse on forums such as this has always been the ability to disagree without hostility.

I’ve not always agreed with things that trey has posted (mostly on another forum). But, he can be counted on to standup for what he believes – which I can very well respect. Frankly, I’d place you in that same category. Your opinions are definitely worth reading.

I guess what I’m getting at is, if you don’t like the “content” of this forum, please, do as Trey is doing, and regularly put in your two cents.

And, Trey, having seen the hopelessness, bitterness, and frequent hostility expressed in many blogs, your enthusiasm and upbeat attitude is definitely a nice change of pace. Do keep it up.

slwerner said...

Oops!

"Then, perhaps Trey’s enthusiastic view is exactly what needs to be interested."I had meant to say "interjected", which hopefully, actually makes some sense - unlike what i first posted.

catwoman said...

"And, had you ever considered that what you deem “trashing women”, may simply be an attempt to “call-out” women of good character to (finally) take a stand and either join in the calls for true gender-equity – or explain why they will not?"

Anakin has been at it for several years now, and the sum total of what he and his cronies have created adds up to little else but woman bashing. Biblical Manhood does not pretend to have any aspirations about improving matters between the sexes. It's entirely about "MGTOW" and trashing women. He doesn't talk about women with anything but contempt.

And there's no comparison to this blog circle with anything that's going on with single Christian women in the blogosphere. Despite the cries here about "man-bashing" in the MSM, you will not find a blog circle of Christian women engaging in what Anakin & co. are up to here -- not even close.

There may well be worthwhile men's issues to consider, the father's rights movement certainly has some merit and churchformen.com does an excellent job. But you guys hardly endear yourselves to anyone outside of your own circle. There have been no legitimate Christian leaders coming here to discuss issues to date, despite several years of provocative blog posts. No wonder, since a quick perusal of hostile, anti-woman blog titles and posts leaves the reader wondering "What is wrong with these guys?"

David said...

This blog post is interesting in light of Deuteronomy 24:5, which says (NIV):

If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and BRING HAPPINESS TO THE WIFE HE HAS MARRIED.

So here it's the husband making the wife happy, but the principle is the same. Other translations substitute "cheer up," "gladden," "comfort," and "rejoice with." Personally, I believe it's important to clarify what is meant by "happiness" as generalisms are usually misinterpreted.

TMink said...

Catwoman, I am not sure how to respond to your post. I can safely and accurately say, thanks for seeing and responding to my enthusiasm.

What I hope for in my participation here is interesting discussion with other saved people about gender and marriage.

Slw gave me the link (thanks again) and I have enjoyed my conversations so far.

If this is a place of misogyny as you fear, I will no doubt be a good influence on my sinful brothers as I love my wife and daughters dearly and see them as good gifts from God.

Over at Drhelen, SLW disagreed with some of my posts, I hope he will here as well. The discussion is good for me and his posts there led to my appologizing for some things I said that were mean. Thanks again slw!

But I am a cheerful sort for the most part and hope you and I will become friends as we agree and disagree.

All of us who are believers have much to share and learn from each other. Maybe I will receive healing and edification here, maybe I will be part of God's plan to work in the hearts of others.

But please rest assured that I do not think women are God's curse, but His blessing.

I am sure we will talk some more.

Trey

Learner said...

"Anakin has been at it for several years now, and the sum total of what he and his cronies have created adds up to little else but woman bashing."

I know two engaged women who have told me they learned things reading here that they believe will only benefit their husbands and marriages. While I don't think that would be at the top of the list of goals for this blog, I think it is a valuable outcome.

"He doesn't talk about women with anything but contempt."

Catwoman, this is just plainly not true.

Amir Larijani said...

What's the matter, Catwoman? Hairballs have you bogged down?

catwoman said...

"I know two engaged women who have told me they learned things reading here that they believe will only benefit their husbands and marriages."

Have there been some notable factoids and insights worth learning from over the years? Surely, there have been moments.

"'He doesn't talk about women with anything but contempt.' Catwoman, this is just plainly not true."

Oh, well there was that piece explaining "collateral damage", but I think that with just a quick glance through this blog, anyone would conclude that most of what is said about women is negative. Very negative.

Of course, spend enough time here and you get used to the lack of edification -- not that you'd ever request more it! Isn't it an established fact that women are over indulged by the church in their undeserving demands for flattery, while men silently endure with nothing in return?

If you have no feelings about the big ugly picture that has been painted here of modern church-going women, then maybe it's time to ask if your participation is poisoning your perspective.

catwoman said...

"If this is a place of misogyny as you fear, I will no doubt be a good influence on my sinful brothers as I love my wife and daughters dearly and see them as good gifts from God."

I do hope so. May He bless you in your efforts.

"I am sure we will talk some more."

Maybe, probably not though. Some loose ends have recently been tied up here and I'm thinking that it's time to go. I've got a building project to finish before the summer starts and lot's of paper work to get caught up on.

Blessings and best wishes to all of you,

catwoman

Amir Larijani said...

Catwoman: Peace, love, and catnip! ;)

Learner said...

"If you have no feelings about the big ugly picture that has been painted here of modern church-going women, then maybe it's time to ask if your participation is poisoning your perspective."

Catwoman,

I try to listen and consider what is said without getting my feelings too tied up in it. While I think at times that Anakin over
states things (and have said as much), on balance I have learned more than enough to outweigh that.

I find considering others' perspectives to be edifying, and sources for my growth. Because of that, I am sorry that you have not clearly made your case when you are challenged. Surely it would have been more edifying for all involved to state your case instead of resorting to broad accusations. Maybe it's time to ask yourself why you have not done so.

catwoman said...

Right now...

...I'm dancing to a live version of "Free" by Phish, played on youtube.... this feels good...
...bye everybody. xo

TMink said...

Hello, you must be going.

Sad really.

Trey

Anonymous said...

I came from a family of abusive alcoholics with the most negative and dark perspective on life. For some reason, and I dearly thank God for this, He gave me the most incredible optimism and joy in the simple things in life.

It caused me endless grief as a child, and made me a poor choice of husband, but it's helped in business and dating.

I love God and thank my Lord Jesus daily for the joy He has given me. The happiness in seeing green trees blowing in the wind and sunshine over the stream near my house. The incredible beauty in the girl I'm dating and the quizzical look on my cats face. So much mystery and happiness and perfection. I'm just joyful to be here.

A very prominent Hindu once told his followers to stop being followers of mystics and healers and just focus on loving God. That really is the key. We as Christians are so blessed to know the clearest path to the most loving God.

Marriage is a joy when the partnership is embraced as something expected and embraced by God. It's not a matter of having children by age 40 or experiencing sex with lots of people.

Relax, focus on what is right and what God wants. God never disappoints. You might have to wait a while, but the end result is better than you expect.

Kai said...

Marriage is bad news for both men *and* women, I've concluded (I'm a guy). Having "been there and done that" with marriage, I can say unequivocally that marriage is the biggest mistake a man can make. The only things that could be worse, I think, would be to get a felony conviction for a violent crime, or to become severely handicapped in an accident.

An important insight I want to share to younger men is that as one gets older, one's overall happiness with oneself increases. So what I think trips up too many young men still is that when you're in your 20s, there's a natural concern about "am I normal" and for many "do I fit in, am I doing the right thing" and so on. Marriage is sold by the status quo as a package deal of getting your life in order and all set for the next few decades. Well, what a nasty ruse that is. For most people, marriage is misery. The statistics only hint at the silent suffering in this land.

So young dudes, listen up: welcome to the world, and don't worry about being "normal", and for God's sake don't be fooled by the marriage crowd trying to sell you Marriage Snake Oil..."guaranteed to bring bliss and fulfilment!" Nothing could be further from the truth guys. And as you hit your stride, entering your thirties (great time) and forties (even better!) believe me, biology and everything else will see becoming more at ease with yourself and with life in general. The only thing that can stop you from a wonderful life is the marriage trap. Don't fall for that one, and you will lead a life well led. This does not preclude having a kid or two if you are so inclined, remember, in Northern Europe nobody gets married anymore and the children turn out great there. Freedom is good.

Kai said...

By the way, the more one digs into recent findings, the more it looks like marriage is a health risk, not a health benefit, for men:

----------
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-10-22-marriage-weight_N.htm

"Newly married women in that age group (early 20s) packed on 24 pounds in five years; newly married men gained 30 pounds.

That degree of gain wasn't seen in couples who were living together but not married. Women gained 3 pounds more than their single peers — 18 pounds — and men gained 24 pounds."

"Women in their teens and early 20s who continued to date but didn't cohabitate gained an average of 15 pounds over five years; their male counterparts added about 24 pounds."

So, women gain 33% more fat as a result of marriage, probably due to pregnancy to a large degree [that 33% comes from (24-18)/18, x 100 = 33.3%] Men gain 25% more fat as a result of marriage; significant is that men don't gain more weight as a result of cohabitation. So living with a woman is fine. But once married, men start gaining weight.. could it be that the depressing reality of marriage drives men to drown their sorrows in Twinkies and chips?

-----------------
Also...
-----------------
-----------
Marriage doesn't benefit men financially after all, the old "marriage premium" theory was flawed,
per 2004 study with larger pool, better methodology, etc:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35981-2004Jun11.html

-----------
Good perspective on why married sex is lame, and single sex is better (testosterone levels drop in both male and females once married, so "hotness" drops)

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/140844/top_7_reasons_to_not_get_married_or.html?cat=41

----------------
Plus: study of 24,000 people over time shows marriage gives a 2 year blip in happiness, then people go back to being however happy they were before. People who stay single stay at about the same level of happiness forever (about the same as marrieds who stay married). Divorce and death of a spouse are big negatives.

http://www.knowthelies.com/?q=node/522 and http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20030317/does-marriage-make-you-happy

-----------------

Marriage w/ or w/out children reduces testosterone by a significant amount (so men lose interest...and how convenient for making men lose their fire and shrug in apathy at their toil for society's ruling class)

http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1090513801001015

"We found that married men with and without children had significantly lower evening T than unmarried men. No significant differences in T were found among the groups in morning samples.... We suggest that lower T levels during the day among fathers may facilitate paternal care in humans by decreasing the likelihood that a father will engage in competitive and/or mating behavior "

----------------
Marriage disproportionately reduces the amount of time men spend exercising (relative to women). Maybe that's linked to men's greater weigh gain after marriage?
"the negative association of work and family roles, especially the role of spouse, with time for exercise is greater for men than for women"
http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=15885678
http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/jomf/2004/00000066/00000002/art00012

----------------

BBC NEWS
Misery: the secret to happiness in marriage

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/6711071.stm

============
Interesting essay on marriage, as a historical artifact from the bronze age:

http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Essays/BluePete/Marriage.htm
===============
Men over 55 who were never married about as happy as those who have stayed married. The unhappiest men were those who were widowed or divorced:

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,24035778-23272,00.html

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