Why is Marriage Lovely?

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Marriage is a powerful creator and sustainer of human and social capital for adults as well as children, about as important as education when it comes to promoting the health, wealth, and well-being of adults and communities.
Marriage promotes the common good by building families and raising children. Those of you who have children know that every day that goes by is about selfless acts in nurturing children.

Effects of Marriage on Society

Marriage is the foundational relationship for all of society. All other relationships in society stem from the father-mother relationship, and these other relationships thrive most if that father-mother relationship is simultaneously a close and closed husband- wife relationship. Good marriages are the bedrock of strong societies, for they are the foundations of strong families. In marriage are contained the five basic institutions, all the basic tasks, of society: 1) family, 2) church, 3) school, 4) marketplace and 5) government. These fundamental tasks, well done, in unity between father and mother, make for a very good marriage.
Marriage and Health

• On average, husbands and wives are healthier, happier and enjoy longer lives than those who are not married.

• Men appear to reap the most physical health benefits from marriage and suffer the greatest health consequences if they divorce.

• Married mothers have lower rates of depression than single or cohabiting mothers, probably because they are more likely to receive practical and emotional support from their child’s father and his family.

Marriage and Wealth

• Married couples build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples.

• Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories.

• Married women are economically better off than divorced, cohabiting or never-married women.

Marriage and Children

Children raised by their own married mother and father are:

• Less likely to be poor or to experience persistent economic insecurity

• More likely to stay in school, have fewer behavioral and attendance problems, and earn four-year college degrees

• Less vulnerable to serious emotional illness, depression and suicide

• More likely to have positive attitudes towards marriage and greater success in forming lasting marriages

Marriage and Crime/Domestic Violence

• Married women are at lower risk for domestic violence than women in cohabiting or dating relationships.

• Boys raised in single-parent homes are more likely to engage in criminal and delinquent behavior than those raised by two married biological parents.

• Married women are significantly less likely to be the victims of violent crime than single or divorced women. Married men are less likely to perpetrate violent crimes than unmarried men.

Marriage and Society

• The institution of marriage reliably creates the social, economic and affective conditions for effective parenting.

• Being married changes people’s lifestyles and habits in ways that are personally and socially beneficial. Marriage is a “seedbed” of prosocial behavior.

• Marriage generates social capital. The social bonds created through marriage yield benefits not only for the family but for others as well, including the larger society.

Sources: Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences (Institute for American Values); Healthy Marriages, Healthy Lives: Research on the Alignment of Health, Marital Outcomes and Marriage Education (California Healthy Marriages Coalition); Testimony of Dr. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, National Marriage Project, before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families

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