Is marriage more rewarding for men or women?
- According to the CDC, 2,015,603 marriages--or 6.1 per 1,000 total population--were performed in 2019 in the US.
- PBS's History Detectives reveals that marriage during colonial times in America was 'largely a matter of property and reproduction' until the Victorian era made way for romantic love.
- A recent Pew Research Study found that 88% of Americans valued love as 'a very important reason to get married,' while 23% said 'legal rights and benefits.'
- A University of Michigan Panel Study on Income Dynamics found that, on average, in 2005, a single woman did about 10 hours of housework per week, while married women did about 17 hours. The study concluded that having a husband 'costs women seven hours of housework a week.'
Popular culture paints the picture that marriage is a woman's holy grail and natural habitat, yet somehow also an asphyxiating cage for men. Public perceptions portray men as 'commitment-phobic,' having to be 'conned' or 'whipped and dragged' into marriage, oblivious of their profoundly debauched nature. But in reality, things are very different.
First, the clichéd view of marriage as 'women's haven or heaven' implies that it benefits women more than men. However, research has shown that marital benefits (wealth, health, and happiness) accrue disproportionately to men.
According to Michael Rosenfeld, a sociology associate professor at Stanford University, two-thirds of modern divorces are initiated by women, which means marriage isn't their ultimate fulfillment. Men often get complacent in marriage, with women experiencing 'lower levels of relationship quality.' Further, the institution of marriage itself leaves women feeling 'stifled and oppressed' because their roles within the family haven't caught up with their roles in society. Married women generally do more for the household, with men deferring many duties to them, including raising children. And this leaves men with fewer parental and marital responsibilities.
Married men also receive a lot of respect in the workplace, as married 'family men' are assumed to be mature and responsible, unlike their bachelor counterparts.
Aside from fewer responsibilities at home and more respect at work, married men also benefit more from marriage physically than women do, as one study found that married men gain more 'in terms of both morbidity and mortality compared to women in US society.'
Ultimately, marriage is more beneficial for men than women because of societal stereotypes. However, it may just be a matter of time before a balance is struck.
To the 2.5 million brides of 2022, the new life they're about to start will have more to offer than just love and companionship. That's because marriage has a lot to offer women--even more than men who tie the knot.
As they enter a long-term committed relationship, women receive ample support from their spouses and get opportunities to be supportive. They also find a social context for shared experiences over time, which is quite beneficial for their well-being.
Marriage also improves women's emotional stability. A study by the University of Georgia showed that women learn to become more assertive during the early years of marriage, and they also report lower levels of neuroticism, i.e., the personality trait indicating a tendency toward negative feelings.
In the bedroom, women have much more to gain once married because, as relationship expert Dr. Jess O'Reilly says, 'As you get to know and trust your partner, you tend to become more comfortable opening up about how you feel, what you like, and what you fantasize about,' something which may be hard for women just engaging in casual sex to do.
For working women, marriage may just be the key to climbing up the corporate ladder because it enables women to focus on their careers rather than wasting time, energy, and resources looking for 'the one.' And after a long day at the office, married women can come home to a supportive husband who can help manage the household--something that they never had as a singleton.
These benefits and more are just an 'I do' away, but only when women choose the right partner. Therefore, they should stroll to the altar with the right man rather than run there with the wrong one.