162 Reasons to Marry


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The Family Research Council

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 a closed husband-wife relationship. Good marriages are the bedrock of strong societies, for they are the foundations of strong families. One can see this strength manifested at the national and state level, as indicated in other works of the authors, such as the Index of Family Belonging and Rejection and its relationship to various outcomes.[1]

Natural_MarriageThe future of the human race and all its component societies is embodied in each newborn. Whether that newborn grows to be a strong, capable adult depends much on the marriage of his parents. Whether he is physically strong; whether she is intelligent; whether he is hardworking or a dropout; whether she will be mentally healthy and happy; whether he will be more educated; whether she will marry in her own turn; whether he will be a taxpayer or a drain on the commons; whether she enjoys her own sexuality to the full; whether he worships and prays; whether she has children and how many; whether he finishes high school and goes to college or learns a trade; whether she is law-abiding; whether he grows old with a family surrounding him-all these most desirable outcomes (common goods) are strongly connected to the strength of the marriage of that child’s parents.

The findings herein demonstrate that in marriage are contained all the five basic institutions, all the basic tasks, of society: family, church, school, marketplace and government. These fundamental tasks, well done, in unity between father and mother, make for a very good marriage. Within a family built on such a marriage, the child gradually learns to value and perform these five fundamental tasks of every competent adult and of every functional society. Gradually he is mentored in them, often unconsciously. Gradually she learns that she is expected to act similarly. Eventually, he and she become more and more expert in performing all five tasks. In other words, they gradually grow in competence and are ready to strike out into society and, eventually, to build their own family. How they do that will depend much on what they experienced in growing up in their families of origin.

With fewer than half our children now reaching the end of childhood in an intact married family,[2] it will be good for all adolescents to learn again and again that an intact married life is a great good to aim for. If they are clear on the goal, they may be motivated to reach it. Just as the children who grew up in the Great Depression became the wealthiest generation in history, maybe we can hope that the children who experienced so much rejection between their parents will become the greatest generation of parents who belong to each other in lifelong marriage.

The future strength of our nation depends on good marriages to yield strong revenues, good health, low crime, high education, and high human capital. As the following enumeration shows, smart parents and smart societies pay attention to the state and strength of marriage.

I. Reasons to Marry: Family

  1. Those in always-intact marriages are more likely to report that being married is very important to them, compared to those who are divorced, single, or remarried (although these are also very likely to regard marriage as important).[3]
  2. Women raised in intact married families have the lowest average number of out of wedlock pregnancies and births.[4]
  3. Those raised in married families have higher expectations of eventually marrying.[5]
  4. Those from an intact family are more likely to be happily married.[6]
  5. Women raised in stable married families are more likely to marry.[7]
  6. Those from intact families are less likely to divorce.[8]
  7. Daughters raised in intact families are less likely to say they do not plan to have children than daughters living with divorced or remarried mothers.[9]
  8. Spousal Relationships

  9. Married couples enjoy more relationship quality and happiness than cohabiters.[10]
  10. Those who marry experience increased commitment and stability.[11]
  11. Men raised in married families have more open, affectionate, and cooperative relationships with the women to whom they are attracted than do those from divorced families.[12]
  12. Married mothers report more love and intimacy in their romantic/spousal relationships than cohabiting or single mothers.[13]
  13. Attachment

  14. Families with both biological or adoptive parents present have the highest quality of parent-child relationships.[14]
  15. The infant children of married mothers are more likely to be securely attached than the infant children of cohabiting or single mothers.[15]
  16. Married people are more likely to exchange emotional or material support with their parents and are more likely to turn to their parents for support in case of an emergency.[16]
  17. Parenting

  18. Married adults are more likely to value the importance of having their own children than remarried, divorced, separated, or single adults are.[17]
  19. Marriage enhances an adult’s ability to parent.[18]
  20. Married parents are more encouraging and have higher expectations for their children than always-single parents are, even after adjusting for intelligence and abilities.[19]
  21. Sexuality

  22. Children from intact married families are least likely to have intercourse before age 14.[20]
  23. Girls from intact married families are the least likely to have intercourse before age 18. [21]
  24. Adolescent girls in intact married families have a lower average number of sexual partners than adolescent girls in any other family structure.[22]
  25. Women raised in intact married families are least likely to cohabit with their eventual first husband.[23]
  26. Young adults raised in intact married families are more likely to enter legal marriage as their first union than are those who experienced the disruption of their parents’ marriage.[24]
  27. Young adults raised in intact married families are less likely than those who have experienced marital disruption to cohabit before marrying.[25]
  28. Women raised in intact married families are least likely to have had a homosexual partner in the past year. [26]
  29. Couples in intact marriages are least likely to have committed adultery. [27]
  30. Those who are married and have never cohabited are more likely to be faithful than cohabiters.[28]
  31. Sexual Satisfaction

  32. Married men and women report the most sexual pleasure and fulfillment.[29]
  33. Married men and women report having more enjoyable sexual intercourse more often.[30]
  34. Married couples find their sexual relationship more satisfying than cohabiters do.[31]
  35. II. Reasons to Marry: Church and Religion

  36. Those who are married are more likely to worship, and those who attend religious services are more likely to marry.[32]
  37. Direct marriage (rather than cohabitation prior to marriage) has a positive effect on religious service attendance.[33]
  38. Young adults raised in happily married families are more religious than young adults raised in stepfamilies.[34]
  39. Adults who grew up in an intact married family are more likely than adults from non-intact family structures to attend religious services at least monthly.[35]
  40. Those from married families are less likely to see religion decline in importance in their lives, less likely to begin attending church less frequently, and less likely to disassociate themselves from their religious affiliation.[36]
  41. III. Reasons to Marry: Education

  42. Parents in always-intact married families are more likely to help their children do their homework than are parents in stepfamilies or single-parent families.[37]
  43. Fathers in always-intact married families are more involved in their children’s homework than are stepfathers.[38]
  44. Children of married parents are more engaged in school than children from all other family structures.[39]
  45. Children from married households have higher cognitive scores and more self-control.[40]
  46. Compared with children in stable married families, students whose parents are in the process of divorcing have lower academic expectations and test scores.[41]
  47. GPA

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  48. Children from intact married families are most likely to earn mostly As in school.[42]
  49. Children in intact married families have the highest combined English and math grade point averages (GPAs.)[43]
  50. Level of Education Attained

  51. Married mothers tend to have the most education, and are most likely to have obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher.[44]
  52. Children from intact families exceed their parents’ educational attainment (sons by 2.8 years, daughters by 2.5 years), after controlling for mother’s level of education.[45]
  53. Children from intact married families have the highest high school graduation rate.[46]
  54. Those from married families are more likely to gain more education after graduating from high school than those from other family structures.[47]
  55. Behavioral Problems

  56. Children from intact families have fewer behavioral problems in school.[48]
  57. First-grade children born to married mothers are less likely to exhibit disruptive behavior, such as disobeying a teacher or behaving aggressively towards peers, than children born to cohabiting or single mothers.[49]
  58. Adolescents from intact married families are less like to be suspended, expelled, delinquent, or experience school problems than children from other family structures.[50]
  59. IV. Reasons to Marry: Marketplace (Work and Finances)


  60. Married men have stronger employment status than cohabiting men.[51]
  61. Married men work more hours than cohabiting men.[52]
  62. Men’s productivity increases by 27 percent as a result of marrying.[53]
  63. Income

  64. Married families have larger incomes.[54]
  65. Intact married families have the largest annual income of all family structures with children under 18.[55]
  66. Among family structures with dual earners, married households in which both spouses are in the paid workforce have the largest income.[56]
  67. Marriage increases the income of African-American men and women.[57]
  68. Married households have the highest income-to-needs ratio.[58]
  69. Men enjoy a larger “wage premium” (the financial gain men enjoy when they join a female partner) when they marry rather than cohabit.[59]
  70. The marriage premium produces an annual income increase of approximately .9 percent.[60]
  71. Women in intact marriages have a higher income-to-needs ratio than women in any other family structure.[61]
  72. Financial Benefits

  73. Married individuals often qualify for discounts or family rates on car, health and homeowners insurance.[62]
  74. Married families receive various and significant tax benefits.[63]
  75. Marriage can raise one’s credit score.[64]
  76. Savings and Net Worth

  77. Married couples save more than unmarried couples.[65]
  78. Married households have larger average net worth than other family structures.[66]
  79. Intact married families have the highest net worth of all families with children under 18.[67]
  80. Married households enjoyed net worth growth $3,000-17,000 higher (over two years) than did other family structures, according to 1992-2006 data.[68]
  81. Married people in their fifties have more assets than single, never-married, divorced, or separated individuals.[69]
  82. Married African-Americans and Latinos hold higher levels of home equity than their unmarried peers.[70]
  83. Poverty

  84. The married family is less likely to be poor than any other family structure.[71]
  85. Marriage between the biological single parents of impoverished children would move 70 percent of them immediately above the poverty line.[72]
  86. Marriage decreases a child’s chances of living in a low-income condition.[73]
  87. Marriage among the poor nearly doubles their probability of moving from a poor neighborhood to a non-poor neighborhood.[74]
  88. Children from married families are less likely to experience poverty than children from any other family structure.[75]
  89. The children of married mothers experience more upward economic mobility than children of divorced mothers.[76]
  90. Married couples are less likely to receive welfare.[77]
  91. Five percent of children from married families receive public assistance, compared to 25 percent of children from cohabiting families.[78]
  92. Intact married families are less likely to have participated in the Food Stamp Program (now SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).[79]
  93. V. Reasons to Marry: Government and Crime

  94. Marriage reduces crime rates.[80]
  95. Married men are less likely to commit crimes.[81]
  96. Living in an intact married family decreases one’s likelihood of becoming a criminal.[82]
  97. Adults and youths raised in intact families are less likely to be picked up by police than those from non-intact families. [83]
  98. Those from married families are less likely to commit major property crimes than those from single-parent families.[84]
  99. Adolescents living in an intact married family are less likely to steal than adolescents living in any other family structure.[85]
  100. Adolescents from intact families are less delinquent and commit fewer violent acts of delinquency.[86]
  101. Adolescents in an intact married family are less likely to fight than adolescents in any other family structure.[87]
  102. Adolescents from intact married families engage in fewer antisocial behaviors than those from other family structures.[88]
  103. Adolescents from parents with two biological parents or two adoptive parents are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems.[89]
  104. Children from intact married families are least likely to ever have been in a fight.[90]
  105. Compared to teenagers from intact families, teenagers from divorced families are more verbally aggressive and violent toward their romantic partners.[91]
  106. Adolescents in grades 7-12 who live in an intact married family are less likely than adolescents in any other family structure to run away from home.[92]
  107. Violence and Domestic Abuse

  108. Marriage leads to lower rates of domestic violence and abuse.[93]
  109. Married men are less likely to murder their partner than cohabiting men are,[94] and married women are less likely to be killed by their spouse than cohabiting women are to be killed by their partner.[95]
  110. Married women are less likely to be abused by their husband than cohabiting women are to be abused by their partner.[96]
  111. Domestic violence against ever-married mothers is lower than domestic violence against always-single mothers.[97]
  112. In arguments, married couples are less likely to react physically (to hit, shove, or throw items) than cohabiting couples are.[98]
  113. Married women are less likely to have been forced to perform a sexual act (9 percent) than unmarried women (46 percent).[99]
  114. Pregnant non-Hispanic white and black women who are married are less likely to be physically abused than those who are divorced or separated.[100]
  115. Married parents are less likely to neglect or abuse their children than are divorced or separated parents.[101]
  116. Children in intact married families suffer less child abuse than children from any other family structure.[102]
  117. Children are less likely to be injured or killed by abuse in the intact married family than in all other family structures.[103]
  118. VI. Reasons to Marry: Health

  119. Marriage is especially beneficial for the health of the elderly.[104]
  120. Married parents have better health than single parents.[105]
  121. Married women are healthier than never-married, divorced, and separated women.[106]
  122. Married people are more likely to report better health,[107] a difference that holds for the poor and for minorities.[108]
  123. Married women are less stressed.[109]
  124. Married mothers are less likely to become severely ill.[110]
  125. Married women’s likelihood of becoming ill decreases the longer they are married.[111]
  126. It seems that marriage, as a sort of social support, strengthens the immune system and makes married persons less likely to catch the common cold.[112]
  127. Health Care

  128. Married men and women are more likely to have health insurance.[113]
  129. Married individuals occupy hospitals and health institutions less often than others.[114]
  130. Married individuals are released from hospitals sooner, on average,[115] and spend half as much time in hospitals as single individuals.[116]
  131. Married individuals are less likely to go to a nursing home from the hospital.[117]
  132. Lifestyle

  133. Married individuals tend to live more healthfully.[118]
  134. Married people maintain healthier weight and engage in more physical activity.[119]
  135. Married individuals smoke and binge drink less frequently than cohabiters.[120]
  136. Married women rate their health better than do divorced, separated, widowed, and never-married women.[121]
  137. Married women are at decreased risk of obesity, are more physically active, and use preventative care measures more often, independent of income differences.[122]
  138. Staying married results in men and women looking younger.[123]
  139. Severe Illness (Cancer, Heart Disease, Etc.)

  140. Married men and women have higher survival rates after being diagnosed with cancer.[124]
  141. Married persons’ responses to cancer treatment are better and are comparable to those of people 10 years younger.[125]
  142. Married men are less likely to die of cirrhosis of the liver than never-married, divorced, and widowed men.[126]
  143. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, married men live longer.[127]
  144. Married women with breast cancer are diagnosed earlier and have higher survival rates.[128]
  145. Married people are less likely to die after being hospitalized for a heart attack.[129]
  146. Continuously married women aged 50 to 60 develop heart disease at a rate 60 percent lower than divorced women, 58 percent lower than remarried women, and 34 percent lower than widows.[130]
  147. Longevity

  148. Married people have lower mortality rates,[131] including lower risk of death from accidents, disease, and self-inflicted injuries.[132]
  149. The longer a person’s marriage, the lower is their mortality risk.[133]
  150. Children, teenagers, and adults from married households have lower mortality rates.[134]
  151. Pregnancy

  152. Married mothers practice better prenatal care and more consistently avoid harmful substances than unmarried mothers do.[135]
  153. Married mothers are less likely to have low birth weight children than stably cohabiting mothers or mothers involved in a romantic relationship with their baby’s father.[136]
  154. Married African-American women who were themselves born to married mothers are less likely to have low birth weight children.[137]
  155. Abortion

  156. Married women have significantly fewer abortions than unmarried women.[138]
  157. Children’s Well-Being

  158. Children of married parents are less likely to be diagnosed with asthma.[139]
  159. Girls raised in intact married families have a later onset of puberty.[140]
  160. VII. Reasons to Marry: Mental Health

  161. Married people are least likely to have mental disorders.[141]
  162. Marriage protects against feelings of loneliness.[142]
  163. Married persons have higher levels of emotional and psychological well-being than those who are single, divorced, or cohabiting.[143]
  164. Married mothers enjoy greater psychological well-being than cohabiting or single mothers.[144]
  165. Children of married parents enjoy a higher quality of life than those whose parents are cohabiting.[145]
  166. Children in intact married families enjoy more emotional and behavioral well-being than children in cohabiting or single-mother families.[146]
  167. Anxiety and Stress

  168. Marriage is protective against psychological stressors because marriage increases perceived relationship commitment.[147]
  169. Both adults and children in married families suffer less psychological distress than their counterparts in divorced families. [148]
  170. Married men have lower levels of stress hormones.[149]
  171. Married women experience less psychological distress.[150]
  172. Married mothers feel less ambivalence and experience less conflict with their husbands than do cohabiting and single women with their partners.[151]
  173. Depression

  174. Those who are married report less depression[152] than cohabiting couples. [153]
  175. Married mothers report less depression, more support from their partners, and more stable relationships than cohabiting mothers.[154]
  176. Adolescents living with married parents are less likely to be depressed than those in stepfamilies or single-parent families (with or without other adults present).[155]
  177. Suicide

  178. Married people are least likely to commit suicide.[156]
  179. Adolescents in divorced families are more likely to commit suicide.[157]
  180. Happiness

  181. Those raised in an intact family are more likely to consider themselves “very happy” than those raised in non-intact families.[158]
  182. Married people are much more likely to report being happy than cohabiters.[159]
  183. Married people (those in intact marriages and those who have divorced and remarried) are most likely to report being proud of their work.[160]
  184. Married mothers of infants have the most positive attitudes and report forming better home environments than single and cohabiting mothers.[161]
  185. Drug and Alcohol Use

  186. Teenagers from intact families are less likely to begin smoking than those with never-married or divorced single parents.[162]
  187. Continuously married adults are least likely to report that they sometimes drink too much.[163]
  188. Married women have fewer alcohol problems.[164]
  189. Married individuals are more likely to cease using marijuana, due in part to improvements in self-control.[165]
  190. Adolescents from intact married families are less likely to use cocaine than those from divorced families.[166]
  191. Community

  192. Older married couples enjoy more social support than older cohabiters.[167]
  193. Married mothers enjoy more social support than cohabiting or single mothers.[168]
  194. Those in intact marriages are least likely to believe that most people would try to take advantage of others. [169]

While most researchers agree on the benefits of marriage, some discrepancies exist among the way they believe the research should be interpreted.

The first is the difference between selection and protection-that is, the difference between the idea that specific kinds of people (healthier people, more affluent people, more religious people) tend to get married and the idea that marriage itself is protective and offers specific benefits (health, economic stability, greater religiosity). Some research controls for the effects of selection, but not all studies implement these controls. Although most of these benefits are actually the effect of marriage itself, some research shows the impact of self-selection.

The second pertains to marital quality. Some researchers say that a happy and healthy marriage is fundamentally different from one filled with conflict. This thinking has empirical backing, but there is also evidence to suggest that even a very difficult marriage retains some of the benefits associated with marriage for both the parents and the children.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

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Virginia Christian Alliance
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