The Case for Marriage

by Brett & Kate McKay on November 30, 2008 · 114 comments

in Relationships & Family

Image from TooTallVal

Lately, marriage has gotten a bad rap. It seems like many people these days feel marriage is some archaic arrangement that holds people back from realizing their full potential. Even if people aren’t particularly anti-marriage, they will avoid getting hitched for as long as they can.

Many men delay marriage because they believe that dating and co-habitating offer all of the benefits (particularly sex) of marriage without the commitment and responsibility. They are fooling themselves. Nearly all of the true advantages of marriage (yes, even sex) apply only to actual married couples, not those couples living together, and certainly not to those simply dating.

Here at the Art of Manliness, we haven’t been shy about the fact that we’re big proponents of marriage. We certainly don’t advocate that men rush into marriage willy nilly, whether they’re ready or not. That would be seriously unwise. But once your find your true love and you’re sure she’s the one, there’s no reason to delay your nuptials. Why? Marriage offers truly significant benefits that cannot be found outside of it. Here are 6 reasons you should grow up, man-up, and stopping being scared of walking down the aisle:

The Benefits of Marriage

More and better sex. The popular belief is that marriage stifles sexual fulfillment. The reality is that married men are having better and more frequent sex than their single buddies who go to clubs each weekend trolling for a woman who’s willing to take them home. Married men don’t have to go through all the trouble of having to convince near strangers to sleep with them or crossing their fingers that on the third date they’re going to get some. Married sex is even better than co-habitating sex; 50% of married men find their sex life physically and emotionally fulfilling, compared to only 38% of co-habitating couples. Married sex produces an environment of trust and openness, allowing couples to openly express their sexual needs and desires to their spouse. This results in better, more satisfying sex.

More money. Married men are wealthier men. Married men earn between 10%-40% more than single men. They also receive promotions more frequently and earn more glowing performance reviews than their single co-workers. Married men also tend to save more than single men. It makes sense. When you’re married, your entire outlook on money changes. Realizing that you have someone else to take care of motivates you to do whatever it takes to support her. If you’ve been dragging your feet about marriage until you make more money, consider the idea that getting hitched might actually improve your financial picture.

Image from lovedaylemon

Better health. Married men are healthier men. They stay healthier and live longer than either their single or co-habitating peers. Just how much healthier are they? Take a look at these statistics:

-Married men have fewer infections and a lower risk of heart disease and some cancers.

-Married men are less likely to smoke, drink heavily, and be physically inactive

-Married men are less likely to suffer from health conditions like back pain, headaches, and serious psychological distress.

-Single people spend longer in the hospital, and have a greater risk of dying after surgery

-9 out of 10 married men who are alive at age 48 are alive at age 65. Only 6 out of 10 single men who was alive at age 48 was alive at 65.

-Married men live 10 years longer than single men. A whole decade!

So if you’re looking to kick the grim reaper’s butt, get married.

A bigger smile. Married men are happier than their single counterparts. In the Journal of Marriage and Family, studies showed that 40% of married people said they were generally happy with their life, while only 25% of single people said they were. The bigger smile might be due in part because married men are getting more sex than single men. But marriage also provides incomparable companionship and forces people to commit to something bigger themselves, which contributes to happiness.

True Companionship. There is an old Swedish proverb that says, “Shared joy is double joy. Shared sorrow is half sorrow.” Truer words have seldom been spoken. Marriage basically means always having your best friend around. My wife Kate always tells people that our marriage is like a “party every day!” And I concur. Everything I do from going to the gym to grocery shopping is 10X more enjoyable with my wife by my side.

Some single people say things along the lines of, “I don’t need marriage for companionship, I have friends for that.” With all due respect to these single folks, you have nothing to compare your level of satisfaction with. I have been single and married, and nothing comes close to the happiness and companionship your wife gives you. Your wife is there in the middle of the night when your worries are keeping you up; she’s there when you get off work and need to unload the frustrations of your day; she’s there to give you a pep talk over the breakfast table on the day you have a big presentation. No matter how loyal a friend is, they’re not family. They move; they ditch you when they have a hot date, they distance themselves when you have a big fight. You and your wife made a vow to be together forever; it’s wonderful to absolutely know that someone has your back come hell or high water.

Marriage Can Be as Happy as You Want It. With the divorce rate hovering around 50%, many men view marriage as too risky a chance to take. But marriage is not a lottery, nor is it a game of Russian roulette. You don’t get married and then cross your fingers that you don’t become one of the statistics. Divorce is not a disease that some people catch and some people have an immunity to. There is no more erroneous idea than that of “falling out of love.” Nobody falls out of love. One or both partners stop working at their relationship and they give up. Be absolutely sure you pick the right woman to marry, someone who will be just as passionately committed to making the marriage work as you are, and your chances of having a happy marriage are nearly 100%


{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

101 WL July 19, 2013 at 10:09 am

THANK YOU for the last paragraph talking about “divorce is not a disease”. I have SO MANY friends who are reluctant to marry because “I am afraid of divorce”. Hello, you choose it! It doesn’t befall you like a thief in the night. It is a decision you make, not something that “Just happens”. I understand that marriage can be difficult/frustrating/hopless-feeling at times. But you can choose to stay together. That is what my husband and I said we would do the day we got married… we made our choice, even though some times can be “dull”, it is a great feeling to know that this is it for me! No nail biting, is-he-going-to-leave-me stuff. Marry someone who is committed to not getting divorced, and then work at it. If there is no escape hatch you’ll be more willing to put in the effort. Thank you, AOM, for honoring marriage!!!

102 RB July 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I can only talk from personal experience, but I have found married life to be quite the opposite to that detailed in the article.

Sex is much rarer now than when we lived separately, I have less money (despite taking home a larger salary) and my health is comparable at best.

I wouldn’t trade the life I have with my wife for anything. However, if for any reason I ever find myself single, I’m never even dating – let alone marrying – again.

103 Floyd July 30, 2013 at 11:18 am

Correlation does not imply causation. It might be the case that wealthier, healthier, happier, more physically active people are more likely to get married, or that there’s a third cause influencing both.

104 mondieu90 August 19, 2013 at 9:57 am

The way people throw out statistics annoy me a bit, I have this itch that I need to scratch. Saying married men are healthier, richer than not married men is like saying 50 years ago that white men are wealthier than black people. By this I mean that most married men would be living a healthy lifestyle even if they weren’t married. The chance is that women simply do not prefer marrying to not healthy, wealthy men :p.

105 mondieu90 August 19, 2013 at 10:01 am

I’m trying to make the same point as Floyd. The black people comparison might not have been in place. I’m not from US. I was trying to make another comparison, but I forgot the actual plot. It was about comparing the crime rate of certain ethnic groups and drawing conclusion from the overall percentage, but when also taking into account overall poverty rate, all ethnic groups would be equal.
I apologize for not being clear on my first post.

106 Josh August 25, 2013 at 11:47 pm

To the contrary stats blasters. Statistics are currently the best way to gather large amounts of information about a subject. Unless you can find studies showing that healthy married men are healthy single men then you lack credence behind what essentially becomes a guess, or a desperate dodge from reality.

Another tidbit, if you are into the clubbin’ one night stand thing, do you remember those nights where you went home with someone an you both were in sync, the act was so great that you almost thought about staying for breakfast? ;) Marriage is finding something like that, while the first night is a bit dodgy if both are virgins, you simply spend the next decades getting better and better and better. Amazing intercourse becomes the norm rather than the exception.

107 Casey September 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Unfortunately, no matter how committed you are or how well you think you know someone to be/feel likewise; it’s entirely possible that your spouse/S.O. may wake up one day sooner than later and decide to leave….I think realizing this is the way I have learned to protect myself from anything too shocking. Meditate on the possibility, if not the probability of the end, and accept that it is out of your control if the other half of this marriage decides to give up or leave. A relationship must never be about controlling someone else.

108 Deziree October 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I’m a chick, so perhaps I don’t get a say. But in my mind… this is a person you like so much that you want to spend the rest of your life with. You have to keep that in mind. If you haven’t found someone who makes you feel that way you can’t understand the intensity and the discussion on Marriage or No-Marriage is moot. If you have found this person… They love you, even though they are close enough to you to see all the stuff you hate about yourself. -They encourage you, take care of you when you’re sick and together, you get more done for your life and personal goals than a single person ever could. -You’re a TEAM in every sense. If something happened to you they’d be devastated. Statistics aside, if you had someone who wanted that from you and to give it right back you’d be wealthier, happier and healthier, than you would be fending for yourself.

109 Brandon R. December 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm

The last thing I wanted to be was married, then I met a woman that I loved as a friend and a companion, and now I am married.

Marriage isn’t for everybody, and even if it is for you, there might be only one person in the whole world who would be compatible with you. If you never meet that person, it’s okay to be single.

If you are happy right by yourself, then stay single. There’s more to life than the frequency and quality of sex. There’s no reason why you can’t be healthy and wealthy as a single man. I think the difference is that, when you’re married, having someone to take care of and being a partner in a joint endeavor makes you aware of your physical health and financial stability.

All in all, there are many great reasons to get married, and therefore one should not completely rule it out. If it’s not a priority, by all means–live a fulfilled single life. Many people do. But don’t fight it when the right one comes along. Don’t run from a relationship just because it’s getting too serious.

110 Spencer Rayburn December 8, 2013 at 1:39 am

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111 Ramos February 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Completely agree with RB from post 102.

Except I am not married, though I was engaged but saw consistent signs I didn’t like and got out.

The “divorce is not a disease” is correct, but here is the thing,
No matter how hard YOU work on a marriage, you cannot control the other part. You can be the best husband ever and crawl through shark infested waters filled with liquid magma for her and she can still choose to just leave.

This is exactly why finding the right one, is so freaking hard, or can be. Especially if work doesn’t allow you alot of time to assess a woman you’ve got “on the radar”. I wouldn’t marry any girl till after at least an aggregate of 30 days together with her(not talking sex here), being around her a full day, during ups and downs and seeing if the chemistry really is there and its not just a sham or a facade.

It can take years to find that girl that fits, especially if one does not move out and seek her up.

112 Brendan March 9, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Unless one intends to have a family, marriage is an outdated institution. For men, there are no benefits, save a small break on car insurance and taxes. Once divorced, the system is, in most states, tilted toward benefitting the woman. Alimony, child support, and loss of assets await the man.

IMHO, the best benefit to the man is to stay single. As 50-year old bachelor Johannes Brahms wrote in his Symphony No. 3, F-A-F or Frei Aber Froh (Free but Happy).

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