Childrearing

Get Married Or Just Move In Together: The Honeymoon Period Is The Same

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marriage proposalToday’s couples have so many options with regard to setting up their union, and perhaps a family. Marriage may be on the decline, but couples are still doing it, saying their vows of forever and always either in front of God or just their agnostic friends. There’s domestic partnerships, civil unions, or just plain tossing all your stuff into boxes and setting up house. But whether you’re choosing to enter into the sacred institution of marriage or do a little trial living together, the honeymoon period is exactly the same according to a recent study.

A survey of 2,737 single men and women, 896 of whom married or had moved in with a partner over a time period of six years, revealed that being partnered provided more benefits to health, happiness, and well-being rather than being single. However, scientists could not locate a distinguishable link between said romantic bliss and marriage specifically. It turns out that some people can be just as fulfilled and committed without that rock — and for the same amount of time.

Researchers found an immediate “spike” in general well-being following a marriage or cohabitation, also known as the honeymoon period. Both groups exhibited fewer depressive symptoms, but they were also less likely to maintain contact with friends and parents as result. The small differences this team did find between married and cohabiting couples dissolved after the honeymoon period, as did that general feeling of “well-being.”

Dr. Kelly Musick, Associate Professor at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, told Science Daily that they did however find the following wrinkles:

“…while married couples experienced health gains — likely linked to the formal benefits of marriage such as shared healthcare plans — cohabiting couples experienced greater gains in happiness and self-esteem. For some, cohabitation may come with fewer unwanted obligations than marriage and allow for more flexibility, autonomy, and personal growth” said Musick.

Dr. Musick says that although Americans tend to idealize and uphold marriage as the most valued form of family, they found there to be no hierarchy in healthy partnerships:

“…our research shows that marriage is by no means unique in promoting well-being and that other forms of romantic relationships can provide many of the same benefits.”

Given the different landscapes upon which Americans are crafting their families in these modern times, these findings further open up the discussion for what is best for children and parents. Considering that a parent’s education has much more impact on a child’s upbringing than a marriage certificate, this study is just one in a recent handful to advocate that for some folks, there really are just different strokes.

(photo: Shutterstock)