From Psychology Today: For decades now, studies have suggested that marriage has advantages for boosting our happiness and longevity. A case in point was a 17-nation study published in a 1998 edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family that found being married was 3.4 times more closely linked to happiness than cohabitation. But a new first of its kind study paints a surprisingly different picture.
Researchers from Michigan State University sought to quantify the happiness of married, formerly married, and single people at the end of their lives to find out just how much love and marriage played into overall well-being. The study—published in the Journal of Positive Psychology—examined the relationship histories of 7,532 people divided into three groups (ages 18 to 60) to determine who reported being happiest at the end of their lives.
The results showed no difference in the happiness among those who had mixed relationship histories and those who remained a lifelong single.
The authors explained their findings by pointing out that relationship status doesn’t show the whole story of whether or not someone is happy. People can live their entire lives in unhappy marriages. Singles can enjoy many other aspects of life besides marriage such as friendships, hobbies, and career. And if someone isn’t happy at the outset, getting married isn’t a panacea that will automatically create a happy person.
The authors concluded that true happiness is more about mindset than marriage: “If you can find happiness and fulfillment as a single person, you’ll likely hold onto that happiness whether there’s a ring on your finger or not.”
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