Ugh, married people, am I right?
They’re all up in our grills on social media, posting pics of each other and writing long, heartfelt captions that would probably be better off sent as private messages. Or, you know, said in person seeing how YOU LIVE WITH EACH OTHER.
They’re the ones who touch your arm lightly at social gatherings while cocking their heads and reassuring you that, ‘You will find someone soon’ even if you’re not actually looking because hello, modern dating is a pit of despair.
I’ve always thought that a lot of it is theatrics because surely, being in a romantic duo isn’t the be all and end all of life, despite what jewellery companies and Richard Curtis would have us believe – but alas.
Science has spoken – turns out married people are a lot happier and more satisfied with life than the rest of us single sad sacks.
In a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies (what a lovely journal, hey?) the authors took data from two UK surveys.
First, authors Shawn Grover and John Helliwell of the Vancouver School of Economics in Canada looked at data about the interaction between marriage and friendship from the long-term British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), which was collected from around 30,000 people between 1991 and 2009.
They then looked at the UK’s Annual Population Survey (APS) for 2011 to 2013, which has a sample size of over 328,000 people.
Guess what? Married people – and those living together as a couple – were found to be more satisfied with their lives than singles, even beyond the honeymoon period and into old age.
‘Even after years the married are still more satisfied,’ reveals co author, Helliwell.
‘This suggests a causal effect at all stages of the marriage, from pre-nuptial bliss to marriages of long-duration.’
The study shows that the key to marital happiness is being best friends with your partner, and those who did had higher levels of wellbeing than those who didn’t.
‘The wellbeing benefits of marriage are much greater for those who also regard their spouse as their best friend,’ says Helliwell.
‘These benefits are on average about twice as large for people whose spouse is also their best friend.’
Weirdly, the difference in happiness that being coupled up gave participants was most notable in middle age – ironically, when people often lose it and start buying designer clothes and secretly sleeping with much younger people.
Unmarried people had a much deeper dip in satisfaction during this period of life, quite possible having something to do with society and its pressure to tick all the boxes like own a house, get married, have kids.
If you haven’t done that – even if you don’t particularly want to – you’re likely to feel a little glum if people keep going on about it.
However, you might want to take this research with a pinch of salt – a previous study showed that actually, single people lead more fulfilled lives.
This is down to the fact that they value more relationships than just the one with a significant other, and because they’re more likely to value meaningful work than married folk, they end up doing more cool stuff.
Add to this the fact that affairs are much more common in older people, and that does question this study’s claim that married couples are skipping happily into their twilight years as in love as they were when they first locked eyes.
You know what though? It’s all subjective.
Some people work better as lone wolves and some thrive in a duo.
Whether you’re single, seeking, in a partnership, happily married or looking down the barrel of divorce, don’t let a collection of data tell you how you’re supposed to feel.
You keep doing you and make the most of what you’ve got. Life’s too short to be fretting about relationship status, amirite?
(But seriously, if you’re in a couple, cool it with the digital PDA. It’s gross and all your friends are talking about you behind your back.)
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