We’ve been taught and programmed that marriage will give us happiness. But a scientific study.shows otherwise.
Marriage Does Not Increase Happiness
Matthijs Kalmijn of the University of Amsterdam & Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute conducted a study to find out what the real effects are of entering and exiting a marriage on general health and life satisfaction.
To do this, Kalmijn conducted telephone interviews with 5,074 households in the Swiss population between the years of 1999 and 2014 and asked a series of questions relating to their family life and relationship status to discover the long-term effect of marriage and divorce.
The results were not as expected.
Effects on General Health
Over the course of the study, Kalmijn found that while entering a marriage leads to a decline in depressive feelings, that decline doesn’t continue over the course of the marriage.
In Kalmijn’s own words: “Health does not improve during marriage, nor does it deteriorate while being single after divorce. Especially after divorce, we find recovery over the years.”
So, this supports the common belief that newlyweds tend to “glow”. While you can expect a rise in happiness during the honeymoon phase of marriage, that happiness will sadly not continue to skyrocket throughout the entirety of the marriage.
Effects on Life Satisfaction
In terms of overall life satisfaction, the study shows that marriage entry leads to an increase in life satisfaction, and a decrease as the marriage goes on. Interesting, life satisfaction was higher in older persons than younger (however, persons over the age of 65 were not interviewed).
Ed Diener, author and psychology professor at the University of Illinois has come to similar conclusions in his own research.
“Some people are happier than others, that’s clear. And there are
things you can do to make yourself happier, but something external like
getting married isn’t a royal road to changing your set point,” Diener
The result of Kalmijn’s study shows that the effects of gain through marriage entry are very small. While health and life satisfaction improve through the act of marriage, it does not sustain throughout the course of the relationship.