Marriage is one of the best economic decisions you can make. “Less marriage means less income and more poverty,” says Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution, who has linked as much as half of the income inequality in America to changes in family composition: single-parent families (mostly those with a high-school degree or less) are getting poorer while married couples (with educations and dual incomes) are increasingly well-off. (The Economist, June 2011).
It also pays to stay married. There are numerous reports, studies, and statistics that show the devastating affect divorce has on families and children. The devastation is across every facet of life; physical health, financial wealth, emotional and psychological well being. No part of life is unaffected. Here are some examples:
Studies show that women experiencing divorce face roughly a 30 percent decline in the standard of living they enjoyed while married and men show a 10 percent decline. The consistency of this finding caused one researcher to conclude: “However ‘prepared’ for marital disruption women increasingly may be, they are not prepared in ways sufficient to cushion the economic cost.” 1
Life expectancies for divorced men and women are significantly lower than for married people (who have the longest life expectancies). 3
A recent study found those who were unhappy but stay married were more likely to be happy five years later than those who divorced.4
The health consequences of divorce are so severe that a Yale researcher concluded that “being divorced and a nonsmoker is [only] slightly less dangerous than smoking a pack a day and staying married.” 5
After a diagnosis of cancer, married people are most likely to recover, while the divorced are least likely to recover,6 indicating that the emotional trauma of divorce has a long-term impact on the physical health of the body.
Men and women both suffer a decline in mental health following divorce, but researchers have found that women are more greatly affected.7 Some of the mental health indicators affected by divorce include depression, hostility, self-acceptance, personal growth and positive relations with others.
1 Pamela J. Smock, "The Economic Costs of Marital Disruption for Young Women over the Past Two Decades." Demography 30 (1993): 353-371.
2 John Crouch, "Virginia"s No-Fault Divorce Reform Bill," interview with John Crouch and Jim Parmelee on Television Channel 10, Fairfax, VA, www.divorcereform.org.
3 Robert Coombs, "Marital Status and Personal Well-Being: A Literature Review," Family Relations 40 (1991):97-102; I. M. Joung, et al., "Differences in Self-Reported Morbidity by Marital Status and by Living Arrangement," International Journal of Epidemiology 23 (1994): 91-97.
4 Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage (New York: Doubleday, 2000), p. 148.
5 Harold J. Morowitz, "Hiding in the Hammond Report," Hospital Practice (August 1975), p. 39.
6 James S. Goodwin, William C. Hunt, Charles R. Key and Jonathan M. Sarmet, "The Effect of Marital Status on Stage, Treatment, and Survival of Cancer Patients," Journal of the American Medical Association 258 (1987): 3125-3130.
7 Nadine F. Marks and James D. Lambert, "Marital Status Continuity and Change among Young and Midlife Adults: Longitudinal Effects on Psychological Well-being," Journal of Family Issues 19 (1998): 652-686.
Need I say more? Get married and stay married!